Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Are You Looking Forward to Easter?

Easter is quickly approaching and at this time it is custom for Christians to dwell on the meaning of the death of Jesus and his resurrection. A lot of the time Christians use the resurrection as a proof that Jesus is God. While this can be helpful I don't think it gets to the heart of its meaning. N.T. Wright offers us this helpful paragraph in his book 'What Saint Paul Really Said':

'Resurrection' was, in Ezekial 37, a metaphor for the return of Israel from exile. When Paul was faced with the fact of Jesus' resurrection, he concluded that the return from exile had in fact happened. Exile had reached its height in Jesus' death; now he had come through death, through the ultimate exile, and was set free not just from Greece or Rome, from Herod, Pilate and Caiaphas, but from sin and death, the ultimate enemies (1 Corinthians 15:25-6). This meant that the Age to Come, the Eschaton of Jewish expectation, had already arrived, even though it didn't look like Paul had expected. It meant that Israel had in principle been redeemed, in the person of her anointed representative. It meant that the Gentiles were now to be summoned to join Israel in celebrating the new day, the day of deliverance."

Some comments:

- Israel was in exile because they had disobeyed the covenant. They had sinned against God and he gave them up to their sin. The curses of the covenant had fallen on them. He removed his blessing from them and the nations came against them and enslaved them. So exile comes as a result of sin.

- The promises made to Israel in exile were promises of a new day of salvation, a time when God would atone for their sins and they would know God fully in a new creation.

- These promises were not just for Israel; when this new day, this new creation, came the whole world would be able to join in the celebration.

- Essentially, return from exile means that God has dealt with Sin and sins. One of the greatest things about this promised salvation is that the sins of Israel, and all the world, would be dealt with and the world be free from the effects of Sin.

- Jesus bore these curses on himself. All the evil of the world came against Jesus and did its worst to him. God was dealing, first and foremost, with sin on the cross. When God's people, and all humanity, sinned the result was exile. Jesus went into exile even though he was sinless.

- Jesus was raised from the dead. When God finally dealt with sin the images that he gave in the prophets was that of resurrection (See Hosea 6). Since Jesus dealt with sin on the cross God's new creation, the world without sin and it's evil effects, has come.

These are great things to rejoice about. When we think of the resurrection we ought to rejoice that sin has been dealt with and we get to be a part of God's new world, the world without sin, the world of King Jesus. I am looking forward to Easter.

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