Tag Archives: Jesus’ Resurrection

Christ is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed! Jesus Christ is Alive!

The Resurrection of Christ (Kinnaird Resurrection)
The Resurrection of Christ (Kinnaird Resurrection) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blogging Through the Book Part 4

There is a big culture war in the US right now between people who want religion kept out of public life and people who don’t know how to live separate from their religion.

The key to the problem between the two groups is the resurrection. One group says that this world is all there is and we just make the best of it. The other group says that Christ rose from the dead, and this world is just the beginning. This group claims that the resurrected Christ in the person of the Holy Spirit indwells them, and they can’t go anywhere without his presence.

One point of great conflict is the subject of ethics. If this world is all there is, and if it is up to us as humans to figure out a good way to live, then there can be all sorts of variables in the mix. There is no absolute, no revelation, nothing eternal or permanent. Ethics can evolve and mutate.

On page 82 of The Gospel of Yes Mike Glenn says. “If Jesus is just a teacher [i.e. not risen from the dead], the Beatitudes are inspirational moral goals to which we should aspire.” Many humanists and even many adherents of other religions view the Beatitudes precisely this way. Christian humanists, if there can actually be such a thing, teach the Beatitudes this way. Mormons think of the Beatitudes this way. Other philosophies and religions, (Hindus, for example) see the Beatitudes as kind and lovely teachings to be admired.

If Christ rose from the dead, however, then this world is not all there is. There are eternal absolutes. There is a God who reveals himself and teaches us something better than we can even imagine on our own.  Glenn continues by saying that if Jesus is alive, then “the Beatitudes become the moral expectations of the coming Kingdom.” The Beatitudes are not about time and space; they are about eternity and infinity.

Christ promised his followers that the Holy Spirit would come, but he could only come after Jesus died and rose again. The resurrection was that important. The Holy Spirit is the power of the resurrection living in each believer, as Paul wrote in a letter to the church at Corinth, saying that our bodies are temple[s] of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)  We walk around all day every day in sacred space. The cultural argument about secular and sacred spaces makes no sense to us, because we live in sacred space all the time. We live at the intersection of time and eternity.

When a secular thinker reads Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy (Matthew 5:7) he does not recognize the eternal and infinite dimensions of that teaching. He is like Simon Peter who asked Jesus if he should forgive someone seven times. The secular philosopher, who believes Jesus was an astonishingly good person who was badly misunderstood and mistreated, asks how we can ever be truly merciful. He believes that advocating the end of the death penalty sounds merciful, because he believes he is giving the convicted murderer the opportunity to continue living in the only world there actually is. The only mercy he can imagine is extension of life in time and space. He actually believes that the murderer is being given time to come to his senses and perhaps improve both his character and his life experience before he dies and goes out like a light.

When we read Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy, we know a living Christ who has already shown us mercy from the eternal and infinite throne room in heaven. We show mercy, because we have received mercy, and we will receive mercy in the Kingdom where the Beatitudes are the Word of the Father. Christ, God in the flesh, spoke those words. Christ is the Living Word of God for eternity. His words shape not just this world, but the world to come. We advocate for real mercy, for eternal mercy, when we share the good news of Christ and his mercy to us. We never live exclusively in the present world, because the indwelling Holy Spirit leads us to live in an eternal context.

This truth doesn’t make life easy. It puts us in conflict with people who want us to shed those eternal values when we are in the “real” world. The “secular” world. If the Holy Spirit lives in us, we can never actually be in a secular space or a secular situation. This is the reason that, for Christians, issues such as the death penalty and abortion and euthanasia and genetic selection of babies and even birth control are never simply secular issues. We are concerned about not only our own behavior, but also the behavior of people whom we influence. A Christian employer who operates a dry cleaning shop won’t choose health insurance or background music or the wages he pays simply on the basis of time/space values. If his eternal values conflict with the values of secular neighbors or a secular government, he may have some time/space problems. If he is true to his eternal values, however, Christ promises never to leave him and promises him eternal rewards for his faithful testimony.

I haven’t always been alert to the eternal connection of all my actions. I have been lured more than once into a secular answer when I should have listened to that indwelling Spirit. I have been deeply grateful for the mercy shown to me when I made those bad decisions. I am not likely done with making mistakes. However, I am learning to listen for the voice that speaks in sheer silence, the voice that speaks living words from the Living Word of God.

I am daily more grateful for the truth of the resurrection. And I am grateful to be resident eternally in sacred space.

 

 

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Blogging Through the Book is a group of bloggers who literally blog while reading the book. It’s different than merely reading a book and posting a review. We have a chance to read and share our thoughts in community. Click HERE to learn more or visit www.danapittman.com.”

 

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Why Was The Cross Necessary?

I used to ask myself why Jesus had to die such a brutal death. It is hard to imagine a death more cruel than this one. If a death were required in order for humanity to be redeemed, why couldn’t it be more like a lethal injection, or why couldn’t he simply drink hemlock?

I think Christ’s death had to be brutal in order for human beings to take it seriously. After all, Bible could have said, “Jesus fell asleep one Friday afternoon, and he was declared to be dead, so they put his body in a cave. Then on Sunday morning, they discovered it was gone. Christ had risen from the dead.” This story might be the truth, but who would believe it? Who would take it seriously as a sacrifice for all of us? Even if God did not require blood, people do. Plenty of people doubt the death and resurrection of Christ to this day. The story would be even less compelling if the death had been painless and comfortable.

There is more. Christ’s death had to be brutal, because Satan had to be shamed. Satan is, above all things, proud. There would be no way to defeat him with finality without shame. The brutality and inhumanity of Christ’s death was among other things shameful. It was intended by the Romans to be shameful. Humiliating. Cruel. Satan needed to know that God cared for humanity so much that God himself would lovingly endure this shameful death to set people free from Satan’s grip.

And the resurrection? Without the brutality of the death, the resurrection would have meant little. Jesus brought people to life many times during his ministry, but none of those resurrections did anything for humanity. The deaths may have been painful and miserable, but when those people came back to life, Satan simply grinned. When Christ endured the horror of crucifixion and then took up his life again, Satan was done. He still had his freedom to afflict us here in time and space, but that freedom has limits. The world where Satan runs free will come to an end, but Christ’s kingdom has no end. The resurrection promises us that life here and now is changed forever by the resurrection. Those who follow Christ live in time and space, but they live at the intersection where eternity pierces the envelope and redeems creation.

Mike Glenn writes, “In the resurrection Christ brought into reality all the promises God had given to his people.”

What promises is Mike talking about?

Start with Abram in Genesis 21:2-3

I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

The deaf shall hear and the blind shall see Isaiah 29:18

On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.

Nobody needs to go hungry any more 

Isaiah 55:2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry.

God is the God of life

For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: Seek me and live.

God will never leave us here at the mercy of evil, all alone

To Joshua in Joshua 1:5, I will not fail you or forsake you

To Joseph in a dream foretelling Jesus’ birth Matthew 1:22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.”

And many more.

Some people say that Jesus was a great teacher just like other great teachers. However, if he rose from the dead, then he is very different from all the other teachers. He knows things no other teacher knows. If he says we must love our enemies, then we need to listen. A man who suffered on the cross, died and rose again, knows things about both enemies and love that we need to learn. The beautiful thing about the resurrection is that it not only showed us that Christ has power over physical death, but he also has power over “all other forms of death in [our] lives, such as relationships … and opportunities.” Furthermore, “the Risen Christ is not limited by time and space, so he is with us in the present, and he waits for us in the future.”

Some might try to argue that God could have arranged for Christ to die a less brutal death than the crucifixion, and I won’t argue, but I will say that anything less would not get our attention. Human beings are cruel. We don’t like wimps. Jesus was no wimp. He faced death in the most brutal fashion, and then he overcame it. He faced Satan, with love and grace, and then he overcame Satan. From the moment the first nail was hammered into Christ’s body, Satan’s last days were begun. The image of the great dragon lashing his tail and sweeping stars out of the sky in the book of Revelation reminds me of a three-year-old’s tantrum. Satan is much more dangerous and vicious than any toddler, but he felt as impotent as a toddler when Christ faced the brutality of the cross, and won. Because he did that, we all can join in that great crowd of people, myriads and myriads of people in the new heaven and the new earth at the wedding feast of the slaughtered lamb, the One who suffered shame, excruciating pain and death in order that we might live with him forever and ever.

Jesus said “Yes” to death in order that he might say “Yes” to life, “Yes” to redemption, “Yes” to transformation. Without the cruel cross and the resurrection, we would all be subject to Satan’s permanent “No.”

Free from Oppression

The lesson of the American Revolutionary War is that human beings want to be free and they will endure a great deal of suffering if suffering is the price of freedom.

The founding of Christianity also cost a great deal of suffering, and that suffering purchased freedom for all people. The American Revolution set British colonists free from oppression by a tyrannical king. The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ set all people free from the oppression of a tyrannical demon.

Peter, an eyewitness to the work of Jesus during his ministry, described Jesus’ work as ‘healing all who were oppressed by the devil.” (Acts 10:38). He lumped together the sick, the lame, the deaf and the demon-possessed in a single group – those who were oppressed by the devil. Peter saw the devil behind all human suffering, with good reason, because human suffering only began when humans were cast out of the Garden of Eden after Satan successfully lured them to reject God.

Suffering of any kind narrows people’s horizons. Anyone who has had any serious illness knows that it can be a major task simply to drink a sip of water. The same thing happens when people are overburdened with stress or fear. You might get up one morning and feel that anything is possible, only to discover that someone else was given the promotion you worked toward for three years, and suddenly your world closes in and feels very small and dark. This is the way people feel when evil imprisons and oppresses them.

The message of Easter is that Christ’s death and resurrection set people free from that imprisonment. In the parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus told us that evil will always be part of the world, but in Christ, we can be set free from its oppressive power.

When Peter went to visit Cornelius he told the people gathered there what Christ had done. Peter told them about Christ’s death and resurrection, and as he was explaining that he and many others had shared meals with the risen Christ, the Holy Spirit fell on the whole group. Peter said simply, “everyone who believes in [Christ] receives forgiveness of sins through his name.´ (Acts 10:42) Forgiveness of sin is the experience of being set free from the oppression of the devil.

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, he could only heal those he could reach. He was God incarnate, and in that incarnation, he did not reach out to everyone. However, the resurrected Christ is available to all. The risen Christ is the promise to everyone that God wants us to be free. When we enter into a relationship with Christ through baptism, we are released from the prison of sin and our world becomes spacious. God created each person with gifts for service and fulfillment. When we belong to Christ we are set free from Satan’s constraints that suppress our achievements and our fulfillment. Free from Satan’s power, we can become all that God had in mind for us.

This is true freedom.