A Theology of the Resurrection

Jesus’s resurrection is not primarily a proof that miracles happen. Nor is it simply proof of his deity. The Resurrection of Jesus includes that, but it means more. God was affirming God in flesh. There is a God-ward meaning to the resurrection. And so I started this list to outline the theological significance of the resurrection. This list updates from time to time. Really, it is the rough-draft of my own chronicling of what I find to be the Scriptural testimony as to the meaning of the Resurrection of Jesus (and that list expands with time).

  1. If God did not raise Jesus from the dead, God is not God, but the devil. The resurrection is divinity affirming divinity. The resurrection of Jesus is the divine self-affirmation of what God is like, who is he, and how he is. Everything that Jesus is, God loves. The resurrection is God saying Yes to his own identity.
  2. The resurrection means peace and propitiation have been achieved. The enraged deity has found his satisfaction. It means that Jesus is satisfying to God. And in this, human brothers and sisters of Christ (enemies of God) have been reconciled to God.
  3. The resurrection means that God is capable or rage, and it means his wrath can be satisfied — and was satisfied. He was enraged, but he was propitiated and appeased. There would be no need of the resurrection if God never required appeasement, and it means that he is the kind of God who finds appeasement: he is not only capable of rage, he is capable of peace. The resurrection is satisfaction in flesh, a living God who has been appeased and who himself made appeasement for himself, satisfied to raise his image-bearing man, marking the end of the warfare (all of humanity is not lost).
  4. The resurrection of Christ means that what Jesus offered to God was accepted by God. His life was the right kind of life, and his righteousness matched what God was looking for. The life of Jesus was submitted to God for inspection on the Cross. The resurrection was the declaration of God that Jesus was the right kind of human. Jesus was pleasing to the Father. God loves Jesus, and the resurrection is the acceptance of the payment made.
  5. The resurrection of Jesus means that God himself (the one who was attacked in the Garden) is also the one who brings about peace to the question, “Should God be God?” Jesus said that God should be God (even if it gets him killed). Jesus was not like the first Adam. And he was raised, even for our justification (Rom 4:25). God is for us, and for himself. It means that God is the sole defender of his glory–the only one capable to raise the dead–and the sole initiator of the end of the enmity (an enmity he did not start, but which his rebel image-bearers initiated).
  6. The resurrection itself is as redemptive as the cross with respect to the essential fact of the justification of sinners (Rom 4:25). That is, we are forgiven of our sins (this is atonement), but we are also reckoned to be righteous.
  7. Raised from the dead, Jesus was marked out as Son of God: King and Judge (cf. Romans 1:4 and Acts 17:31).
  8. The resurrection reveals that Death itself serves the revelation of the glory of God in Christ. Death is not ultimate, Christ is, therefore Death plays its dying part and is not the main actor, but the backdrop. Death is the matrix wherein God reveals that he is the God that loves enemies out of which is born the resurrection revelation that enmity does not overcome God. The resurrection reveals that Death itself is subservient to the greater cause of God being God in humanity. The way of God showing that he loves those who kill him is embodied in a resurrected King who first died. Death itself dies and yields its meaning to the glory of God in the resurrection of Christ. As air gives itself to wings for flying, so Death serves the greater glory of God in the resurrection. Death is the right-fit tool of God’s self revelation and decay does not have the final say, but must give up its essence to a greater word. God spoke to the tomb, and the right speaking of God in the Raised Word. Where sin abounded and death seemed like the definitive master, God’s revelation of himself super abounded. The resurrection means that death itself serves God’s incarnated glory. Death proves to be a tool, and is no longer a master.
  9. The resurrection of Jesus is about God being God on Earth, reclaiming what was lost, and bringing justice into the realm of his image.
  10. The resurrection of Jesus is about God being God in Heaven, bringing together both worlds so that his will is, “done on earth as it is in heaven.” The resurrection is heaven and earth wed in Jesus.
  11. The resurrection of Jesus is the Good News that God cares for his creation, cares for justice, and cares to have his image triumph in humanity.
  12. The resurrection of Jesus means a Human body participates in the realm of the Spirit. Jesus’s resurrection stands against all notions that humans finally and eternally escape having bodies.
  13. The resurrection comes in two stages. Instead of ending history, it broke into the middle — already here, but not yet consummated. Jesus is raised, and his followers will be raised when he returns.
  14. The resurrection of Jesus means “end of exile” for the people of God. Prophetically told in the story of Judah and a resurrected valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37).
  15. The resurrection of Jesus means the victory and enthronement of Israel’s Eternal-King — prophetically identified with David in Hosea 3 — is none other than King Jesus.
  16. It means a New Exodus (freedom from the captivity of Satan, sin and death) through a dying messiah. God himself incarnates, fights against Satan, and disarms him by extinguishing death in His own flesh, emerging from the tomb as though passing through the Red Sea.
  17. It means the vindication of God, who was put on trial on Earth, in Jesus, and found guilty. But the resurrection is the Heavenly court reversing the lower verdict.
  18. It means New Creation. A completely and physically dead human became physically and forever alive. Jesus is the New Adam constituting a New Humanity.
  19. It means New Creation is being poured out so as to cover and colonize the whole world as the Church.
  20. It is a rebuilt Temple where Jesus and his Church are the restored Abode of God in humanity.
  21. The resurrection means that Satan is judged, and his head has been mortally wounded. What God told the devil he would do to him (Gen 3), has been done to him.
  22. The resurrection means that humanity is no longer the free domain of Satan, but another human, a True Human has been unleashed on the Cosmos, and he is the Second Adam.
  23. The resurrection of Jesus means that God is good to show himself. It is rooted in his goodness. It means that he does not dismiss our historical concerns. God does not dismiss the human mind, but comes to us so that humans could touch him and have faith that is according to sound and reasonable evidence.
  24. Like the last point: The resurrection means that God treats the human mind as valid, and wants the intellect to inform upon the heart for worship. God engaged the human intellect and the human mind of his disciples–even disciples who demanded proof. He did not terrorize them for their intellectual demand (and need), but showed himself alive, and gave proof that Jesus is the God-Man who will judge the world.
  25. The resurrection of Jesus points back to a covenant between that Father and the Son, wherein the Son merited the blessing of that earlier agreement (John 17:1-3)
  26. The resurrection of Jesus speaks of the kind of love God has. God’s love for God is Trinitarian. God the Father loves God the Son. God’s love of God is on the basis of God being God (and not on the basis of God being gracious to himself!). God loved Jesus and raised him from the dead, not with grace operating (Jesus was not in need of grace), but because Jesus merited the Glory of the Father (John 17:1-3). According to the merit of the person of Christ, God raised him from the dead. And, God loved God before he raised Jesus from the dead. The resurrection reveals that God is worthy of being loved for the sake of who he is, that his love flows from himself, and in the resurrection he reveals the meritorious life of Christ.
  27. The resurrection of Jesus does not make God loving (God already was loving). That is, Jesus was not fixing some weakness or deficiency in God (a deity that needed fixed because of his inability to love). God raised Jesus because of the meritorious work of Jesus (John 17), and not because Jesus was in need of grace. Likewise, Jesus loved God for who God is, not for a need of grace. The resurrection of Jesus points back to God being loved for who he is (Jesus loved God, even though Jesus himself was not a recipient of grace).
  28. The resurrection points back to the Character of the kind of Love God has and embodies, revealing that he is not to be loved nearly because of utility [see my article on the subject of God, love and grace]. To expand this in a different direction, we could recall that God loved us while we were yet sinners. That is, the death and resurrection of Jesus did not make God loving (he already was loving!), rather his death made God satisfied. The resurrection did not make God loving. God’s love is not, first of all, an act of grace, but it flows from his character. God is loving.Grace follows. That is, it is from his kindness that rebel human’s experience the love he has, but the love comes historically prior to the death and resurrection (though not necessarily prior — as if it were a raw love looking for a solution — for the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus can be understood as theologically prior).
  29. The resurrection of Jesus is itself the very proof that Jesus is the coming Judge — Acts 17:31, “For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” That is, the resurrection is not (first of all) the thing to be proved, but is itself the proof of what is to come.
  30. The resurrection is how Jesus is the Great High Priest (from the book of Hebrews).
    In the book of Hebrews, there is a central role that the resurrection plays in all of his arguments. Jesus is alive. That means he can be a high priest still. The Abrahamic promise of blessing was an oath by God. That oath produces hope, and Hebrews 6 says that hope is available to us because Jesus is alive (that is, he is a priest of a different kind than the Levites who die).
  31. The resurrection of Jesus means the New Covenant is better than the Old (from the book of Hebrews). In Hebrews 7:17,21 he picks up on the word, “Forever” (GK: Into the age) so that part of the new covenant being better is rooted in the resurrection itself (7:22), as the Levites died (7:23), and he always lives to save and make intercession (7:25). The pattern of death then judgment is also part of body of Christ. That is, in 9:26-28, Hebrews switches from Jesus’ death to Jesus as a living judge (which makes one think of Acts 17:31). And chapter 10 picks up on that judgement.
  32. In the book of Hebrews, Faith sees the resurrection of Jesus, and thus sees hope as real. So faith itself sees that Jesus is the resurrected king (of which Isaac would have been a type if he were raised — 11:19), and everyone was looking for a better resurrection (11:35), so that this country, this world, this city is not the one they are looking for. Thus we have this statement in 11:39-40, “they did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” This can be understood in the light of the resurrection with 11:39-40 said in reference to us living in the era of the Resurrected Lord.

A shorter version of this was published in the Louisburg Herald, April 9th, 2008.

This article was published under Newspaper, Resurrection.

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