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5 Minute Jesus: Resurrection



Episode 64: Kingdom Come

The Apostles’ Creed has been a standard summary of Christian belief since its origins in the second century.

To this day, it is affirmed by both Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. Now, there are two references in this creed to the ‘afterlife’. One relates to Jesus. In the middle stanza it says: “On the third day he rose again from the dead.” That’s the heart of Easter, the heart of the Faith. The other reference is about believers in general. It comes in the third stanza: “I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”

Sometimes even long-term church goers assume that the reference at the end of the creed to “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting” reiterates what is said earlier about Jesus’ resurrection (“on the third day he rose again”).

But the third stanza of the creed is about believers, not Jesus. Following the teaching of the New Testament, the Apostles’ Creed states that just as “on the third day (Jesus) rose again”, so at the end of history men and women will experience their own “resurrection of the body”, and it is in this bodily mode that we will enjoy “the life everlasting.”

Historically, in other words, the Christian view of the afterlife has always envisaged resurrected bodies in a revived creation, not immortal spirits in an eternal heaven. That is what the Kingdom of God is all about—the Lord’s reign over creation.

Jesus himself frequently spoke of the resurrection—ours not his. In Luke 14:13–14 he said, “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” In John 5:28–29 Jesus says, “Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear my voice and will come out—some, to the resurrection of life, some, to the resurrection of condemnation.”

Paul taught the same thing. He described Jesus’ resurrection as the ‘first fruits’ (1 Cor 15). This is an agricultural term for the initial produce of a coming harvest. Jesus is the first indication—the inauguration—of God’s great future harvest when he revives the dead and renews the creation.

When I first became a Christian, I assumed—I feared—that the Bible taught the ethereal, clouds, and angels view of heaven. I thought God’s kingdom was a bodiless spirit world. But I loved the taste, smell, sight, sound, and touch of this world, and now I was meant to look forward to losing those five senses and having them replaced by a spiritual sixth sense. I was not terribly excited about it.

Fortunately, someone pointed out to me that the Bible says nothing of the sort. The Bible’s ‘kingdom come’ is not an ethereal place of clouds and spirits—that’s pagan theology, Hindu theology, Hollywood theology.

The ‘kingdom come’ is a new creation with resurrected bodies. It is a place where the frailties and disappointments of this natural order are resolved through an extraordinary act of divine re-creation. The resurrection of Jesus is so central to the Christian faith, not just because it marks out his life as a unique historical moment, but because it’s the ‘first fruits’. In Christ’s resurrection God shows he is willing and able to breathe new life where there is currently death and decay.

The resurrection of Jesus is God’s tangible guarantee within history that he will do the same for us, and the whole creation, at the climax of history.

By John Dickson

Want to hear the rest of the episode?
Check out episode 64: “Kingdom Come”





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