What the Resurrection Demonstrates

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For Christians the resurrection is of supreme significance, but can we articulate why? I’m not so sure.

Our first instinct may be to say that Jesus’ resurrection proves his divinity, but I think it in fact proves God’s divinity, which is rather redundant.

If you think about it, a god being raised from the dead is actually expected; it’s a human that needs special intervention once they are dead. Raising someone from the dead proves divinity; being raised from the dead says nothing in that regard.

Fundamental to Christian belief is that we are all going to be resurrected someday, but that doesn’t mean that any of us are divine. If God is God, he can raise anybody he wants from the dead. That he raised Jesus says something about Jesus, but not necessarily that he is part of the Godhead.

But what does it say?

I guess in a sense you could say that the resurrection proves Jesus’ humanity, but that doesn’t really sound like we’re saying much. Why go through the trouble of resurrection to prove that he was human when much more mundane things like eating and sleeping, bleeding and dying could do that?

It is a big deal, though, God becoming human, and Paul makes a big deal about it in Philippians 2:

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.(Philippians 2:5-7 )

But it’s the next line that informs our understanding of Jesus’ humanity and the resurrection:

And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly ex alted him… (vs. 7-9 )

He was resurrected because of his obedience, which is not just another way of saying that he lived a sinless life. That just means he avoided doing some bad stuff.

Obedience is not avoiding anything, it’s taking something on. Obedience is active, it’s assertive, it’s proactive. To understand Jesus’ obedience we need to look at what he did that last week.

He entered Jerusalem like a military leader, but without an army. He challenged the Temple leadership and the Roman oppressors, but told his followers to put their swords away. He told Pilate that his kingdom is different, that if it were the same as all the other kingdoms of the world, “my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.” (John 18:36)

If Jesus had gathered an army and then gone into Jerusalem, he would have been disobedient.

If Jesus had avoided confronting the Jewish and Roman leaders because he didn’t have an army, he would have been disobedient.

It was because he stood against the forces of injustice and oppression but was unwilling to use their means to accomplish his ends, i.e. he refused to kill but rather allowed himself to be killed on a cross—this is why he was said to be obedient.

And this is why God raised him from the dead.

The resurrection is the vindication of a particular way of responding to the forces of evil, the oppressors who bring death to the world, and the agents of violent injustice who use brute force to accomplish their ends.

The first person truly resurrected didn’t just die, he died army-less on a cross as the solution to the world’s way of ongoing death and violence.

Resurrection is for those who thus pick up their crosses and follow Jesus.

Photo by © Can Stock Photo Inc. / nito

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