Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Resurrection Story

Sin has lost it's power, death has lost it's sting. From the grave you've risen victoriously. - from the song "Marvelous Light"

I've been sitting here for about an hour trying to write a bible study for tomorrow night on the significance of the resurrection. At first I thought it was going to be easy. I've been a Christian practically my whole life and have been studying the bible longer than that. But as I began to think about it I could only feel the emotions of the power of the resurrection. I felt thankful, free, peaceful, but speechless. I immediately felt a bit embarrassed...how could I, a wanna be theologian, not be able to articulate the significance of the resurrection.

I turned to my friend Google to ease the pain. One pastor wrote that if the resurrection of Christ had not happened "the gospel would be in vain, our faith would be in vain, and the apostles would have been false witnesses." So, in other words, Jesus had to rise from to dead to validate our belief that he rose from the dead. This is the classic error of "the tail wagging the dog." "Surely we are incapable of having a wrong belief therefor the story has to be true." This explanation completely misses the transformational power of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. Other articles I read were more theologically sturdy but failed to grasp the depth, the necessity, and even the relevance of the resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

Then I came across an article by N.T. Wright. He says, "It is the real world that the tyrants and bullies (including the intellectual tyrants and bullies) try to rule by force, only to discover that in order to do so they have to quash all rumours of resurrection, rumours that would imply that their greatest weapons, death and deconstruction, are not after all omnipotent. But it is the real world, in Jewish thinking, that the real God made, and still grieves over. It is the real world that, in the earliest stories of Jesus’ death and resurrection, was decisively and forever reclaimed by that event, an event which demanded to be understood, not as a bizarre miracle, but as the beginning of a new creation."

Ah ha! We are on to something here. In the resurrection story God is reclaiming the mess that his beautiful creation has become. This does not mean that we will not experience frustrations, cancer, high cholesterol, or divorce. What this does mean is that death does not have the last word.

In commenting on this topic Rob Bell says, "Resurrection announces that God has not given up on the world because this world matters...this world that God is restoring and redeeming and renewing. Greed and violence and abuse they are not right and they cannot last. They belong to death and death does not belong."

Jesus' life, death, and resurrection conquered death. Not only was it a nice metaphor but it literally happened. It is finished. Though I may never grasp the depths of this concept I pray that I live in the reality of the resurrection story. There is hope amidst war, depression, broken relationships, the daily grind, the emptiness of trying to keep up with the Joneses. His name is Jesus.


Andrew said...

Any post that quotes both N.T. Wright and Rob Bell is good with me! Surprised by Hope was a gospel-altering book for me. I'm like you in that I feel like an idiot for just now "getting it." Now the gospel is all about living the resurrection now - a resurrection that broke into the middle of history in Christ's resurrection. Yes, there is still cancer and divorce and the like, but there is hope that our own resurrection lives are somehow a part of God's plan for the restoration of all creation in the Final Resurrection.

Coby said...

Well said Andrew. Come to San Antonio so we can grab coffee and talk!

mandi said...

sorry i'm just now reading this.

i'm still thinking on this. i mean, who hasn't heard the fact that death was conquered in the resurrection? but to really think on what that means. not just that death was conquered...but it makes all things new.
like i said- i'm still thinking on this.