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Jesus’ Resurrection, the First Fruits of our Eternity

resurrection first fruits sxc hu smallThe resurrection of Jesus is not just one grand miracle amid a ministry filled with grand miracles. It stands alone among all the works of Jesus for the magnitude of its significance in the lives of the followers of Jesus, the Christ. It is a unique event not only in the history of Jesus, but also amid all the works of human history. It is the first fruits of our eternity.

If mistaken as a mere miracle, Jesus’ resurrection might easily be confused with other similar works of power. Elijah raised a widow’s son (I Kings 17:9ff).  Elisha, too, raised a woman’s son (2 Kings 4:16ff), but also “accidentally” raised a man whose corpse was tossed atop Elisha’s bone’s as they lay in his tomb (2 Kings 13:20ff). Prior to his resurrection, Jesus himself raised Lazarus (John 11:1ff), a widow’s son (Luke 7:11ff), and a Synagogue official’s daughter (Mark 5:21:ff). After Jesus, both Paul and Peter raise the dead as well (Acts 20:9ff; Acts 9:36ff).

Jesus’ resurrection, however, is distinct from all of these. These were, so to speak, merely resuscitated from the dead, while Jesus was fully resurrected in the ultimate sense of what resurrection is meant to be.  These all died again, in time, passing back into death to await the resurrection. Jesus, however, took on resurrection power, the final glorious body awaiting all those who are destined to spend eternity before an unveiled holy God.

Jesus, while carrying with him the wounds of his crucifixion, took on what Paul has called a spiritual body (I Corinthians 15:44), dwelling at one and the same time in both the material world as a physical material entity that eats (Luke 24:39ff) and can be touched (John 20:27), but also dwells in the realm of the spirit. Jesus can pass through walls (John 20:19), appear and disappear (Luke 24:31), and will live forever unchanged, uncorrupted (Acts 1:11; I Corinthians 15:42). The resurrected body of Jesus is, in relation to his old body, what the plant is to the seed from which it sprouted (I Corinthians 15:37-38). Jesus becomes in his resurrection what God has promised that each of us shall become in turn in the new earth.

It is common, at least in my travels, to find Christians talking about heaven. “Will you die and go to heaven or hell?” “Don’t you want to go to heaven when you die?” Heaven, however, is not what the Scriptures have promised us. They have promised us, instead, that those who belong to Jesus, the Christ, shall live forever before an unveiled holy God in a new earth. Creation will become everything God intended it to become when he first made it and so will we. Man was not made immortal. The tree of life, shrouded in mystery as it is, stands in the pages of Scripture as a testament that immortality was a goal of creation not its starting point. Man was designed to achieve immortality, but, having fallen into sin, was driven out away from the tree of life, the hope of immortality. Adam’s sin doomed him and all his seed to corruption and death away from the garden of Eden, away from the tree of life, away from the presence of God. Jesus’ sacrifice, however, has provided the means for creation and a portion of Adam’s seed to reclaim that which was lost, to finally achieve the goal of creation, eternity before God unveiled, transformed by his glory (I Corinthians 15:49-54; I John 3:2).

So, what is the resurrection? Paul speaks of it as first fruits (I Corinthians 15:20). First fruits are that portion of a crop that the farmer reaps first, a foretaste of that which is coming to fullness in the rest of the crop. When Jesus stands before his Disciples in full resurrection glory, all the promises given to Israel, every hope for which these Jews suffered and died, came walking before them. Jesus was the first to receive resurrection glory and power, but he will not be the last. He takes on in his body the proof that everything promised to Israel is true, real, and just around the corner for them. Fear of death passes away, for this Jesus whom they knew and loved entered into death and has come back to show them what awaits them on the other side, to show them that the eternal promises of God are sure and attainable. Jesus’ resurrection was not a point of faith for those who met the resurrected Christ, it was as solid a validation of the promises of God as one could ever hope for. He was the first fruits of resurrection, a taste of that which is to come for all. Nothing that the world could offer them in exchange for that hope could compete, no temptation could seduce, no threat against their person could intimidate. They did not merely believe, they knew.

What of us? The degree to which the reality of Jesus’ resurrection breaks upon our hearts is the degree to which we too are empowered over temptation, and the degree to which we too are empowered to suffer in the here and now for the certainty of the there and then. For us, Jesus’ resurrection is a point of faith, for we have not seen it with our eyes. We believe the testimony of those who saw. We set our hearts on the conviction that what they have told us is true. We allow the Holy Spirit to convince us of its legitimacy. Even so, the power of the resurrection is a portrait of our eternity.

One thought on “Jesus’ Resurrection, the First Fruits of our Eternity

  1. I am not ignoring your question. I am in the midst of an office transition and want to give a proper answer when I am resettled in my space.

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