Reflections for the Week of April 16, 2017 Easter

Gospel: John 20.1-18 or Matthew 28.1-10. The resurrection of the Lord. “The Lord id Risen” is the ancient Easter greeting. The traditional response is, “The Lord is risen indeed.” What does this stellar event mean for Christians? The answer to the question takes us back to “Adam.’” The first human being who was created by God to rule over His creation as described in Genesis 1-3; Ps 8; Ps 72). The whole Bible is about God establishing His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven and His intention that human beings should rule over God’s creation as stewards and as a royal priesthood (Ex 19.6; 1 Pet 2.5,9; Rev 1.6,10; 20.6). We know the story of Adam’s fall which derailed God’s project. Rm 5.12-21 tells of Adam’s trespass resulting in death for all men, and how grace led to the reign in life through Jesus Christ. Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel, is the fulfillment of the entire history of Israel and God’s promise to Abraham to restore mankind through his family, Israel, to a kingdom to be ruled by human beings. The whole earth is to be God’s holy land, and the followers of Jesus the King (this is what Messiah means) are to be a royal priesthood to rule over the kingdom. This is the meaning of Rm 5.17 and the renewal of the world is described in Rm 8.19-26. “Creation itself,” declares Paul, “would be freed from its slavery to decay, to enjoy the freedom that comes when God’s children are glorified.” With the resurrection Jesus is the first fruits of God’s creation-project put back on track. After forty days on earth after His resurrection Jesus ascended into heaven where He rules at the right hand of the Father where He reigns as the truly human being over God’s kingdom at the present time. Justification by faith will enable His followers to extend God’s kingdom on earth as His image-bearers, who are given the vocation to extend the kingdom (this is the royal part) and to reflect god’s glory in His creation back to Him (this is the priestly part). Jesus has dealt with the exile due to idolatry and sin, and now the whole world is God’s holy land, with Jesus and His people as the light of the world. The world is now the interlocking of heaven, God’s dimension, and earth, man’s dimension, to form a great temple filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Isa 11.9; Hab 2.14). This is the “already” part of God’s plan; the “not yet” part is the renewal and restoration of the world when the Lord returns and “the new Jerusalem comes down out of heaven.” The bride, of course, is the church, the kingdom of God made up of those who have been declared righteous and members of God’s covenant family through faith in God the Son and who will reign with Him over the new creation forever. Jesus is ruling now as a human being as it was intended that Adam should do.He was crowned with a crown of thorns and proclaimed as King. The kingdom of God has been inaugurated on earth as it is in heaven by Jesus and is peopled by His image-bearers filled with His Spirit who are commissioned to extend His kingdom until He returns and sets everything right once and forever. His resurrection means that at that Last Day His people will receive new bodies also in the great resurrection of the age to come. Jesus has defeated Satan on the cross and given His people the Holy Spirit to enable them to resist Satan and follow Christ, living lives of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness (1 Tim 6.11) to the glory of God.

Memory Verse: And Jesus came and spoke to them saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Sprit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you to the end of the age” (Mt 28.18,19).

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