Sunday, 11 May 2014

The Risen Saviour

It is important to think often about the resurrection of Jesus. Perhaps we should compile a list of Bible passages that do so and turn to them regularly. One such reference is 1 Peter 3:21-22 where we are reminded of four features of the resurrection of Jesus.

Firstly, Jesus as the God-man has entered into a new level for humanity. His resurrection was not merely a return to life as he knew it before his death. After his resurrection, he was no longer under the normal limitations of space and time: for example, he could enter rooms with locked doors and he could disappear from a room without using its exits. In this life, our humanity has limitations, but through Jesus we are going to have a humanity that will be more capable than what we now are. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 that the resurrection body will be imperishable, dignified, powerful and spiritual. At present we have no idea what that will be like, but we know that Jesus already has experienced it. 

Second, Jesus as the God-man has entered heaven. The apostle is describing the ascension but he is not thinking that it was like a journey into space similar to what astronauts have done. Instead Jesus has entered a world that is not in our universe, he has gone to a location which sinful man can never find or penetrate. Humans were barred from entry there because of their sinfulness, but Jesus our representative has gained access for himself because of his sinless, beautiful life and for us by his atoning death. Jesus could have entered heaven at any time because he lived a completely holy life, but he could only go in as our representative after he had paid the penalty for sin and defeated death.

Third, Jesus as the God-man has ascended to a height which humans could never have reached even if they had not sinned – he has ascended to the throne of God where he sits at God’s right hand. There are not two divine thrones, one for the Father and one for Jesus. Instead there is only one throne and seated on it is One who has our human nature, and who will have it for ever. What does that mean for Christians? It is very hard to say, yet the New Testament indicates that in some ways they will be identified with the throne of Jesus. Of course, they will never become divine. But Paul does say that they will judge the world and judge angels, which gives some insight into the prominence that God will give to his people.  

Fourth, Jesus as the God-man has dominion that humans did not have before. Originally, humans were created lower than the angels (Ps. 8:5), although they had dominion over the lower creatures on earth. But now, because of Jesus, the new humanity is higher than the angelic orders, whatever they may mean for them in the future. Yet even now, the angels serve the heirs of salvation (Heb. 1:14). But his dominion means more.

So let us think about the risen, exalted Saviour today and anticipate seeing and sharing to some extent his glory. 

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