Whereas the resurrection concept comes across in subtle ways in the Old Testament, it is far more dominant in the New Testament. It presents itself in an entirely unique way as the resurrection of the shepherd son of David where He stands in as the Redeemer and the Advocate (Acts 13:22f & Romans 15:12).
This resurrection event stands on its own and cannot be compared with any other, and understanding of this event is not according to myths and legends of other cultures. It occurred from within the very core of our darkened and depraved beings where the evil powers at work in our members were utterly destroyed. This event occurred within the structures of the created environment within human space and time. Eternity broke into our history and enacted the decision from God in a decisive and permanent way. The imaginative processes of all cultures are shattered upon this event and replaced by the act of God, and all things are being pressed towards His ultimate goal of the restoration of all things. It is the old world being created anew and afresh. It is the all-powerful decision of God bearing down on every corner of the visible and invisible created order.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ was an unexpected event that took everyone by surprise. Even though Jesus plainly told His disciples what was about to happen, they were shocked that Jesus was arrested, taken away and crucified. All their hopes were dashed. However, when Jesus rose from the dead, and with the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, there were immediate and huge implications for the apostles and those who would later place their trust in Jesus’ hands. With the resurrection as an event they personally witnessed, this shocking revelation brought the whole of the Old Testament in a new light. Their understanding of the Scriptures was now transformed into a new way of thinking and a new way of speaking.
The gospel was birthed in the culture of Israel where the way of perceiving the world was entirely different to any other culture in the world. Therefore the resurrection had a specific meaning and context in Hebrew culture. Yet the event took place very much in the heart of a Greek world which had very opposing ways of seeing, perceiving and knowing. We have to take great care as to the language we use in explaining resurrection in the right context – that is, the Hebrew context. We must maintain its original meaning in the context of Hebrew culture so as to be able to weed out the modes of thought and speech of the non-Jewish nations.
In speaking about Jesus Christ rising from the dead, we must maintain a union between Jesus Christ of Nazareth and God – being of one and the same being with the Father. On the one hand we have God raising Jesus from the dead, but at the same time we have Jesus rising from the dead as an act He personally carried out. The miraculous healings in the New Testament are explained using the same Greek words that apply to the resurrection where there is a raising of the sick. These healings are miraculous acts on a par with the resurrection, where these acts are pointing to this ultimate miraculous act of the resurrection.
The ultimate event is the victorious act of Jesus Christ as He rises out from within the realm of death. Even though it was thrust upon Him by the sinful act of humanity, where they hoped that they would be done with Jesus Christ, He rose above our corruption and mortality where He Himself within His very own being is able to bear down and regenerate human life as a whole.
The pointing of the Old Testament to the One who would be raised up as a Prophet, King, Judge and Priest is in the context of resurrection. This includes the incarnation where Jesus is the seed who is raised up from out of the barren ground, inaugurating a new era. He is the first born of the New Creation, the One in whom all the nations will be blessed. This very act of the Incarnation belongs to the resurrection, and both are tied together. It is an event that could not happen without God making it happen in the heart of the community of His own people.
Torrance interprets the resurrection in a very novel and extraordinary way. His birth is a form of the resurrection where the very Seed of the Messiah is raised. This theme continues through His baptism and the final resurrection, displaying in the most grand way His victory of everything that opposed us. It means His resurrection is corporate. This resurrected Seed is from One that dies and falls to the ground but springs to life and comes up, bringing with Him a whole harvest of grain. The One dies for the sake of the many. One died for all, and therefore all died, which naturally means that the One raised from the dead brings with Him the resurrection of all. It is this theme that is interwoven throughout the New Testament, especially in Col. 2:12,13 and Eph 2:5,6.
The whole of human existence is grounded in Christ in a new way of being where this resurrected life has impacted every person that has ever lived. In this new existence the decision of God to be God of humanity is decisively enacted in such a way that it cannot be undone. In discovering the truth of the message, we are to find the objective reality of the universal impact on humanity of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus died because we did not see Him for who He truly is, where the gravest error of judgement on our part was to put Him to death in the most cruel way possible. In plunging Jesus to the depths of death and hell, these did not have the final say over Him. The final say of God to this was No! As a result, death and hell were destroyed. Yes, He died for our wrongdoing and was raised so that we could be set right with Him.
As we grasp this amazing reality we can relish in and enjoy its fruit. What we discover for ourselves, we declare the same to others with the firm assurance that what is promised to us can and has been given freely to all. It is a past event that is eternally present to every human being.