Note; This is an expanded meditation of Easter’s posting.
Jesus was launching a subtle rebellion at his resurrection, the day when Eternity invaded Temporality and Life swallowed Death. He upended the norms of Death and played by his own rules.
He declared one of his norms in Matthew 20:16: “The last will be first, and the first last.” He immediately implemented that rule when the sun was barely up: Women were his first witnesses. Many rabbis took a dim view of women generally and rendered their testimony invalid. Citing their eye-witness reports was tantamount to declaring: “I know Jesus rose. The town drunk told me so.”
But Jesus was ushering in the resurrected life, which embraced the truth articulated in Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
And it would go on. He would not punish guilt-riddled Peter in the wake of the apostle’s denial. Instead, he would restore him. He would not abandon the apostles who abandoned him at the cross. He would grant them grace. The ways of life would overthrow the ways of death wherever he journeyed. As Peter Chrysologus phrased it, Christ “repays good for evil, love for injury, and boundless charity for piercing wounds.”
We see the rebellion’s significance when we grasp its first-century backdrop. The Jews longed for a general resurrection. A new age would dawn. Righteousness would reign. The wolf would lie with the lamb and swords would be beaten into plowshares (Isaiah 11:6; Isaiah 2:4). The might-makes-right era would be remembered only as a faded nightmare.
Christ’s resurrection was a token of things to come. The future invaded the present and now subversively co-exists with the age dominated by powermongers and alpha personalities. We’re now locked in a clash of epochs, a battle between “this age” and “the age to come” (see the language in 1 Corinthians 2:6-10; 5:1-5 10:11; and Hebrews 6:5 – among many other passages), with Satan ruling the present, evil age as a god (2 Corinthians 4:4). Citizens of the future age employ the future’s weapons: Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, God’s Word, prayer in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:14-17), bearing the fruit of the spirit along the path (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control: Galatians 5:22-23).
This invasion has actually racked up a slew of victories, mostly missed by power-wooed journalists and historians enamored with this present age. They rarely report on all the indigenous followers of Christ now living in Africa, South Korea, and China. They don’t even see history’s verified, concrete realities: Christians founded hospitals and most of our modern educational institutions. Blood, guts, and scandal have always seduced reporters – and now that’s magnified by television cameras and Youtube.
The resurrected life isn’t a sexy story.
Which signals a warning to politically-minded followers of Christ (I’m one of them): Politics can be a noble calling, but beware. It’s almost invariably soaked in dominance, power, and all the present age’s other seductive trappings. I’ve seen Christians enter politics with the best of intentions – and, in a flash, their faces are frozen with plastic smiles; their words become empty talking points. They’re hollow shells. The same trap is laid for believers drawn to high-powered business, where rivalry and competition reign as the twin holy grails.
Like almost everything, politics and business can be pathways on which the resurrected life – the life of the age to come – is displayed. But pay heed to succulent fruit hanging from the trees along the path. They’re often poisonous.
Always remember: We now play by the subversive rules of God’s kingdom and the resurrected life. We’re beacons of the age to come, showing the dawn of the Earth’s revival.