Friday, 29 April 2011

Bodily Resurrection Matters

Take a read of 1 Corinthians 15. Go on, the whole chapter.

Take your time - it is quite dense and heavy going ...

Encouraged by the time you get to v57? I hope so - He gives us the victory!

So what of v58? Tacked on the end, does it really fit after all that hard hitting stuff about the resurrection?

Yes it does! Because Jesus was raised in the body, it shows us that there is continuity of creation. For sure things will be changed, beyond what we can get our heads round, but the continuity means that aspects of the now will carry through to the eternal future. So the whole chapter becomes a call to mission - to work to put things right now ready to be carried into eternity.

Ever struck you why Jesus put so many things right during his earthly ministry (healings etc.)? He was demonstrating the coming Kingdom, putting things to how they should be in anticipation of what is to come.

We are to do the same.

Of course at the moment death & decay are still soldiering on, so we will have frustrations and disappointment. Yet that should not deter us from the task: death will be swallowed up in victory.

So stand firm, don't be put off, get on with the mission task - the work of the Lord. It will not be in vain.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Ultimate Trust

As we saw earlier Jesus relied on his heavenly Father for his cosmic vindication. There was nothing on earth that could save him, or see him through. No pep talk, no Dutch courage, no secret weapon. Just ultimate reliance on God.

This was surely a key aspect of the atonement - that a man would ultimately rely on God to see him through. With that action of the one man, the many can follow.

And we follow not on just wishful thinking, a belief, a view of a few, but based on a reality. The risen Jesus shows us that he was vindicated, and so the way through is indeed possible.

Of all the Old Testament sacrifices and atonement offerings, none led to the reality that we now see in the risen Christ. Whilst such offerings had their place and validity, God is not looking for the tokens and bits & pieces we might choose to present. He is looking for us, ultimately coming to rely on Him.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Cosmic Vindication

Jesus was silent before his Sanhedrin accusers, except for the words recorded in Matthew 26:64. The clear allusion to Daniel 7:13 (and Psalm 110:1) was enough to seal his fate. It was a robe-tearing moment, for the priests the charge of blasphemy was now proven.

But here Jesus was simply sticking to the same story he had been giving all along, that ultimately his heavenly father would testify to who he was (e.g. see John 8:18). His vindication would come from God, and would be on a cosmic scale.

So the taunts from the hot under the collar priests in v68 to 'prophesy' were futile, just like the various requests for a sign Pharisees had made through his ministry. Such 'earthly' signs are nothing compared to what will be seen in the fullness of time.

The story of Jesus only makes full sense once we understand the complete vindication that he will receive, a vindication so 'out of this world' that I will call it cosmic vindication.

The resurrection, of course, tells us that such cosmic vindication was indeed given.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Carried on Eagles Wings

Isaiah 40:31 is an encouraging verse: "they will soar on wings like eagles ...".  Many a time I have heard it quoted, and in the past year people have kindly offered the verse to me by way of encouragement. It is a great image - a fantastic bird gliding effortlessly in the currents and slip-streams high above the ground.

Now it could well be that Isaiah was picking up on a reference in Exodus, where God is describing how he brought the people out of Egypt (Exodus 19:4). Curiously that was an episode firmly on the ground. In fact it must have been something of an ordeal - they had to walk into the desert, and learn to trust God totally for their protection (chapter 14) and for the most basic of provision (chapter 15 & 16).

Clearly with the benefit of hindsight (or a bird's eye view!) one can see how God carried them through the somewhat arduous journey. Yet at ground level 'how on earth can we survive this?' must often have been a relevant question.

It seems to me that the encouragement therefore is not that God will lift you out above & beyond the pain or difficulty, but he will lead a way through in which (once you have got your head round it) it is apparent that you only made it with His supernatural help, i.e. above & beyond what could normally be expected.