Thursday, April 13, 2006


Paul calls Jesus' resurrection the firstfruits of what will happen to us (1 Cor. 15). I think this analogy may be lost on most of us. "Firstfruits" points to when a farmer harvested the first part of his crop to ripen. This first sampling of the crop would tell him how the rest of his crop was going to develop. The NT authors did not intend for you to interpret Jesus' resurrection to mean that "Jesus was raised from the dead and therefore your nonmaterial soul has the promise of an afterlife". By using the term "firstfruits" they are saying "This is what it's going to be like for you." Now, I have to state here that I do believe that after you die, if you are a follower of Jesus, your spirit/soul does, in fact, go to "be with God." As Dallas Willard points out "What else would God do with His friends?" This is, however, not the promise of the event we celebrate at Easter. As N.T. Wright points out in Simply Christian, Easter points to not "life after death", but "life after life after death." Even the ancient Jews believed that for God to be faithful to his promise, everyone to whom he had ever been in covenant with would have to be alive to enjoy it's fulfillment. They believed that when God did what God was going to do, all of his people would be there to enjoy the fulfillment of God's dream for the world. This is not simply to say that they would be raised to life again only to get old and die again either. When the New Testament writers describe Jesus' resurrection and his appearances afterwards, (again, as Wright points out), it is almost as if they didn't have the language or vocabulary to describe what they were seeing and experiencing. He was the same as before, yet somehow different. He was familiar, yet at times unrecognizable. He had physicality (he ate, drank, touched, was touched, etc.) but he also walked through walls, came through locked doors, appeared and vanished. He was alive again and he was physical, but he was more than that as well. The biblical word is "glorified", but again, it must be stressed that even this condition is presented as a "firstfruits" for us. We will be free from death and decay. We will be free from the fallout of Genesis 3. But, we will not be raised "incorruptible" to live in a world that is corruptible. Paul states plainly in Romans 8:18-25, that Creation itself has the same promise as the Children of God. Creation itself will be freed from the bondage of death and decay. It will be free from the fallout of Genesis 3. In short: God, human beings, and Creation will become what God had in mind all along and will go on from there forever toward exciting, amazing, and as yet undreamed of possibilities. The kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our God and he will reign forever and ever, Amen. That's what I celebrate at Easter.

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