Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Observations on the Significance of the Resurrection

Pittsley, if you're reading this, this one goes out to you. I just finished (about an hour and a half ago) preaching a message on 4 observations concerning the significance of the resurrection. My topic was selected, in large measure, as a result of your post a little while back bemoaning the minimization of Easter in many evangelical churches. Your observations resonated with me. It is only in recent years that I have come to have a better appreciation for the significance of the resurrection and so I thought others might benefit from some of my reflections. Anyway, I thought you'd like to know that your seed thoughts have taken root and I praise the Lord that they are bearing fruit to your account here in VA Beach. Fruit not only from the challenge they were to me, but also to several who spoke to me after the message regarding how the Lord used the texts to incite their affections.

I manuscripted my first point in order to help clarify my own thinking. My first observation was that the Resurrection Vindicated Jesus; it's basically devotional reflections on Romans 1:4. I'm including that first point below and offer it for your encouragement and meditation. (Those of you who are Wright, Thielman or Schreiner fans will probably see their fingerprints all over this).

The Resurrection Vindicated Jesus

To be sure, the resurrection vindicated Jesus, in the sense that it showed He was Who He said He was. The resurrection was the fulfillment of prophecy, especially Jesus’ own prophecy concerning Himself. John 2:18-22 So the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?" 19 Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." 20 Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.” However, the resurrection did more than just demonstrate that He meant what He said and that His prophecies were fulfilled. Listen to the opening words of the book of Romans - Romans 1:1-4 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Here the resurrection makes plain that Jesus is the Son of God. Does this imply that He was not the son of God previously? Certainly not. Rather, He has by the resurrection been declared, or that word could also be translated “appointed” the Son of God WITH POWER. During the incarnation, we understand that Jesus humbled Himself taking on the form of a servant. With the resurrection He has been appointed to a new status (for lack of a better term). Having been glorified He is no longer the humble servant but now the exalted King. At the beginning of this verse, Paul describes Him as Jesus Christ our Lord. Let me digress for just a moment. This is a phrase we often take for granted to the point that I think we may fail to see its significance. First of all we need to get a hold of the name Jesus Christ. Christ is not His surname, like Nate MIHELIS. Furthermore, it is not as if Jesus is His human name and Christ, His divine moniker. No, the term Christ is a transliteration of the Greek christos which means “anointed one” or messiah. Likewise, lord is not a title that should be taken lightly, sort of like “sir” or “mr.” No, lord was a term used to speak of the emperor, as in “Caesar is lord.” So what do you get when you put it all together? Paul is explicitly saying, the resurrection demonstrated that Jesus the Messiah is King.” After all, this is what Paul and his companions where accused of in Thessalonica. Right after the rulers of the city accused them of turning the world upside down, they charged them with these words: Acts 17:7 “…these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king -- Jesus." Paul’s message is clear: Jesus the Messiah is King and He brooks no rivals!” That’s quite a statement. It’s the kind of statement that changes the course of history. Are you starting to see why the resurrection is so significant?

1 comment:

Luther's Stein said...

It seems this Easter God has been doing a similar work in all of us. I posted on my blog several days ago concerning the significance of Jesus' quotation of Ps. 31 as his final prayer from the cross. In studying to prepare that sermon, God was teaching me of the importance of God vindicating Jesus' righteous life through the resurrection and its import for Christians who await his coming enduring public shame as he did.

Thanks for the direction to Romans 1 here Nate! It is a blessing.