Jesus’ Resurrection was the Inauguration of New Life in This Life
The resurrection brought the power of the coming age into the present age. Remember, in John 11, Martha replies to Jesus’ statement that her brother Lazarus would be born again—someday at the final resurrection. Jesus’ response reshapes her timeline, “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25 ESV) Why those two together—resurrection and life? It signals what Lazarus really needed. He was dead. He clearly needed resurrection and Jesus could provide that.
But what did Lazarus really need beyond resurrection? Life. When Jesus’ talks about life he’s not talking about life as we know it in the kingdom of man. He is talking about life in the kingdom of God. Life eternal. Not just immortality. People in hell live on forever. Life is vibrancy and fullness. Remember Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25, emphasis added) More than simply being raised again, we need life. That’s what he’s saying here. I am not merely the one who brings you back from the dead. I am the one who grants you life. Jesus is talking about eternal life; unending life. And not merely an unending existence. It is human life to its maximum fullness. Maximum flourishing. Maximum joy. We’re not all on life support for eternity. He came that we may have an experience of fullness, and righteousness, and relationship with God, and physical vibrancy, and joy, and pleasure, and gladness, and beauty, like nothing we’ve ever known in this world.
In other words, the life given by faith in Jesus is life in the realm of the kingdom of God, a life not merely ended by physical death. It is a life sustained by the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
Jesus’ Resurrection Indicates a New Kind of Life is Available in This Life
I think we have long thought about this wrongly. Take a look at this chart:
This approach produces seriously weak Christianity. Except for forgiveness of sins, the really great stuff about being a Christian is someday. So I just try not to blow it by walking away from the faith or doing something so bad that I wonder if I’m really saved. Just hang in there. Suffer along as a dying sinner. But our struggles aren’t in the future, our issues are in the present.
- “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
- “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
Romans 6:4 is a key verse. It connects Jesus’ resurrection with our present walk which it describes as “newness of life.” How? Let’s go back to our chart.
What’s wrong here? Our view of resurrection life or eternal life is too exclusively in the future. Romans 6:4 says that Jesus’ purpose in being raised from the dead was that we might live now in newness of life. Future? No. Present walk. Present life. Newness. Resurrection life now.
Anyone want some newness in their life? How do people attempt to get it? New Car. New spouse. Go to some exotic location and wish life was always like those 10 days. But what happens after the new spouse and 10 days in Tahiti? I’m still stuck with the same me. My external circumstantial “new” can’t change the old sinful, selfish me inside.
But Christ was raised so we could walk in newness of life today. What happens is this:
What this means is, in the big picture, what the Bible is communicating is that there was Creation, and then mankind fell (not on the chart), and the kingdom of man was superseding in our minds the kingdom of God. When Jesus was resurrected, it brought into this age, this kingdom of man, the power of the future kingdom. Biblically, we are actually living in the new age now. The Dawn has come. Tomorrow’s new life is available today. Jesus’ resurrection was the first light into the darkness of the old kingdom of death. By faith in Jesus, we have the power and the capacity to walk in newness of life. That’s the big picture.
But now, let’s look at your picture:
You were born. If you’re a Christian, at some point in your life, you put your faith in Jesus; you were converted. From that moment on, you are now walking in what is known as eternal life. Now you can’t necessarily see it, not in a way that you do when you die, but you have it right now. It is within you. The power of God. The kingdom of God.
You Christian, have a spiritual nuclear reactor within you. And God is exerting the force of his glorious realm to transform you into the likeness of his glorious Son. And that is the most glorious existence that we can have—to be like Christ. And the Bible calls that newness of life.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2017 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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