Jesus’ Resurrection & Other Things

It seems to me that so much modern Christian thought about the resurrection goes in the wrong direction.  It moves to the resurrection.  That is, we feel the need to think toward it, to establish it, to prove it.  So we argue that it did indeed happen, and once we’ve made our case, we imagine our work is done.

Reading through Acts recently, I was struck again by how so much early Christian thought moved from the resurrectionThat it happened was a given, but that was only the starting point.   They proclaimed the resurrection and then got to work.

The early Christians began with the reality of the resurrection and then  asked these questions: What exactly happened when it happened?  And, how does this now change everything?

Starting with the resurrection, rather than ending with it, allowed them to talk about the new world that God had brought into being by raising Jesus from the dead.

They thought from the resurrection about all of life.  If God raised Jesus from the dead, how are relationships now reconfigured?  What do marriages look like in light of the resurrection?  How should friendships be reconfigured?  How does parenting look in light of God’s transformation of all things?  How do we resolve conflicts in light of this new reality?

How does the resurrection reorder how we think about owning and sharing our possessions?  What does a resurrection economy look like?  What about resurrection politics?  If God raised Jesus from the dead, should I think differently about putting myself on the line for what is right?  What should a community shaped by the resurrection of Jesus look like?

I’m not saying that the apologetic task is completely wrong-headed.  But it sure seems that we’ve neglected to make the moves the New Testament does–purposefully re-imagining all of life in light of that world-altering and cosmos-transforming reality of God raising Jesus from the dead.

13 thoughts on “Jesus’ Resurrection & Other Things

  1. Kelly

    I was completely blown away by this several months ago when I read Surprised by Hope. The way he talked about resurrection was unlike anything I’d ever heard before growing up in the church. It completely changed my thinking.
    Just finished The Lost Letters of Pergamum last night, btw. Really good. Trying to sort through some thoughts on it.

    1. timgombis

      Wright is a seriously refreshing voice, speaking creatively from that resurrection perspective. We need more like him, especially in local churches–people who can take up local challenges and help reconfigure them in light of God’s resurrection logic.

  2. bobmacdonald

    The resurrection is also in the beginning of the Psalms (3,4,17:15). And they end with Yhwh opening the eyes of the blind (146:8). The motive to learn and to act as Yhwh acts, with equity, and with the preferential option for the poor, and with the inclusive mind, is clear. Sometimes, no, frequently, I think that post-Jesus talk has been about proving the wrong stuff, reductively wrapping up ‘the truth’ in a word or two, and failing to walk where the Master walks. I.e. failing to follow, therefore remaining blind.

    1. timgombis

      Bob, I’m working from memory here, but I think that the force of Ps. 68:20 in Hebrew is far greater than typical translations. Not just “saves from death,” but something more along the lines of rescuing out of the cluthces of death.

      1. bobmacdonald

        68:21 in the Hebrew numbering

        הָאֵל לָנוּ אֵל לְמוֹשָׁעוֹת
        וְלֵיהוִה אֲדֹנָי לַמָּוֶת תֹּצָאוֹת
        Our God is the God of victories
        and to יְהוָה the Lord are the exeunts from death

        It may be a bit much to read into the single common word derived from יצא (yts’) – I had a bit of fun with it in my translation (who knows if it will survive my wife’s editing!)

        Psalm 68 is a whole set of enigmas. Here is an excerpt from my notes: Exit from death. The word is not uncommon and is derived from a verb meaning to go out, so exit, but only here is it used of death. Proverbs 4:23 uses a similar term: the exeunts from life!

      2. timgombis

        I remember working through that psalm for my dissertation and seeing God’s triumph over death clearly there. And yes, it’s a wild mess, but wonderful imagery of divine triumph throughout.

  3. S Wu

    Great post, Tim. I think the modern notion of propositional truth has pushed us to that direction – i.e. the urge to prove the resurrection of Jesus and stop there. (Not that propositional truth is in itself wrong, but there is so much more to it.)

    I have been thinking that the Christian hope is the future resurrection and the renewal of the entire creation. But that’s based on the death and resurrection of Christ in the past. Where we get confused is that we don’t know what to do with these. Somehow we think that in between the resurrection of Christ and our future resurrection there is nothing important – except to convert people to believe in those truths.

    But it seems clear to me that the Christians in the New Testament see it differently. The past resurrection of Christ and the future renewal determine our whole life as followers of Jesus. We are to live out those realities now – to worship the living Christ and to love our neighours; to follow the way of the Crucified and treat our fellow human beings as truly image-bearers of God.

    To use your wonderful words, “purposefully re-imagining all of life in light of that world-altering and cosmos-transforming reality of God raising Jesus from the dead”.

  4. athanasius96

    Great post! I am preparing a study in Acts and it strikes me how Jesus’ death and resurrection are really the whole shooting match. The goal is not to teach a new ethic. All of reality is transformed by these two connected events, and they are grasping to keep up.

  5. Pingback: Running toward (or away from) the resurrection | Dave Asch Speaks

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s