The Resurrection and Reconciliation
Reconciliation is so underrated in modern evangelicalism. We continue to keep in mind the relationship between the incarnation and the resurrection. In the incarnation God is the Immanuel who has come to reveal to us that He is with us and subsequently for us. Throughout His whole life God bore our opposition and hatred towards Him but He was still with us and for us. As Jesus Christ revealed more of the truth of Himself to those of His own, the more those of His own wanted to drive Him out. The nation of Israel wanted to be rid of Him but God was still with them and He was still for them. They arrested Him, tried Him beat and whipped Him but God was still with them and subsequently for them, refusing to let us go. Even though they found He committed no crime, He was condemned to death on a Cross, God was still with them and He was still for them. He was crucified yet God was still with them and still for them.
As they were nailing Jesus to the Cross, He responded, ‘Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’ Indeed, they had no idea that they were murdering the Lord of Glory. Forgive is such a highly technical theological word that has been chosen to render the Greek aphe. However there are other alternatives that might better reflect the total submission of Jesus to His own will. I believe it might better read, Father, leave them alone, it is obvious they have no idea what they are doing.’ I have the sense of Jesus implying that even though humanity do not know what they are doing, we will stick by them anyway. God is looking past the current horror towards the ultimate end of His goal.
God rose from the dead to show that despite everything that was thrown at Him, nothing in all creation could erode the eternal fact that God is forever with us and forever for us. In Jesus Christ God and humanity is revealed as reconciled. It is a done deal and for it to be undone God would have to deny Himself. Jesus Christ is forever the risen Lord, a crucified and resurrected Human Being at the right hand of the Father in face-to-face union with Him. This bond of union is indestructible and incorruptible. It extends beyond Him to everything that lives, moves and has their being in Him.
Reconciliation is the ultimate act of loving kindness conceived from before the foundation of the world and brought to reality in the Person and work of the crucified, resurrected and ascended Jesus Christ. We must never downplay or minimise reconciliation in the resurrection event. It goes far beyond what our feeble minds can conceive. God placed His own Son in our peril entirely for our sake and explicitly showed that we are now completely empty handed in our attempt to drive Him away. Humanity is eternally locked into the loving embrace of the Father in Jesus Christ in the very present time through to beyond death in the eternal place. It is hard-wired into our existence and forms the basis of all human life. It is contradictory to what we believe to be true but it is our truth that has to change to be in line with the eternal truth. This is what makes what God has done in the Person and work of Jesus Christ to be such good news of utterly staggering proportions.
The resurrection should not be understood as an event that changed God. What is revealed in the resurrection is the eternal steadfast love towards His creatures is victorious. God has changed us forever. God has never changed. He is the same yesterday, today and forever! The contradiction and enmity was on our side but is now gone. The resurrection is not only our justification but is also our reconciliation. We are now children of God in the same way Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Humanity is judged and condemned on the Cross because of their darkness and depravity but is now made to stand before God sharing in His righteousness and in His absolute delight. It is not something to be seen as an event in the distance. We can be witnesses of this event but it means so much more than that. Baxter Kruger says the gospel is what became of the Son of God and what became of us in Him. It is an event portrayed in the whole life of Jesus Christ that was also happening to us. The Incarnation was God inserting His I AM into our human existence. Jesus lived the human life entirely for our sake. When Jesus was crucified, we were crucified with. When Jesus died, we died with Him. When He rose from the grave, we rose with Him. When He ascended to the Father, we ascended with Him thereby making God in our midst, the eternal Immanuel. As I keep saying, this historical event portrayed in the whole life of Jesus Christ from the birth through to His death and resurrection is eternally present and actualised in us. It is the living God who is living in us that makes us His living people living in the same life as Him. This is what reconciliation means. It has brought us into communion with God in the Son by the Spirit face-to-face with the Father as an act of free utter loving kindness.
Reconciliation is God as He truly is and it is from this point that we look back in history to interpret the truest truth about God. God made His personal promise to Abraham and has carried it through to the end in Jesus Christ. This is despite the fact that humanity has behaved in such a twisted contradiction to who He is. It means that despite our defiance God has come through on His promise. It means for us that we no longer have to try to get close to God as God has brought us into His Light and Life. We are placed where all we have to do is let Him love us and enjoy God loving us.
The resurrection brings everything God had promise to us in complete fulfilment in Jesus Christ. It shows the death on the Cross as victorious. Is shows the extraordinary length God has undertaken Personally to see His promise come to reality. It means that all is squared up with God’s relationship to humanity and humanity’s relationship to God. It goes to show the closeness and intimacy God desired in spite of the darkness and depravity of our wayward beings. His love is such that He became what we are in this waywardness and darkness so that we could be transformed to be like Him and share with Him what it is to be like Him.
Jesus Christ is the I AM of the Old Testament which is synonymous with the title YAHWEH. God has a true existence which far exceeds what we understand by existence. In the Old Testament, YAHWEH says to Moses in Exodus 3, I AM who I AM. God truly exists. He is the true being in all its fullness and the most true Person. It is the Living God who is the Life. It is this life that is inserted into our existence at the incarnation. The whole of human existence is grounded in the very Being of God in Jesus Christ. What Jesus Christ says of Himself as the crucified and resurrected Human Being is also true of us. Reconciliation is far reaching and includes every aspect of human life. It is not only an event in history but a continuing truth in the living and breathing being of Jesus Christ who lives forever more as the atonement and reconciliation in personified form. The eternal peace Jesus shares with the Father is the very peace He shares with us.
Humanity are adopted children of God. They are adopted to share in everything Christ has as the eternal Son of the Father.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that does not face away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith” (1Peter 1:3f).
Our lives are not longer dictated by the fear of doing the wrong thing and therefore have to face judgement for it. We are dictated by His loving kindness where He includes us in His life in the Son by the Spirit. We love because He first loves us. We can live in dignity and are able to treat those around us with the very same dignity God has given us. We have been made dignified with the same dignity as the Son and thereby live in a dignified manner treating all others with dignity as persons.
Therefore in resurrection we have been exalted. We are given to participate in His divine nature. The ascension is merely a continuation of the resurrection where our human nature that is assumed in Him is also lifted into the life and love of the Father, Son and Spirit. We are reconciled into the life of the Godhead, the Trinity.
Reconciliation is consubstantial communion – this is the love of the Father, Son in and through the Spirit, who is in Himself the very love of God. Hypostatic Union is the union of the divine God, the Son in our version of fallen humanity where both the divinity of who God is in Himself and the Humanity of Jesus of Nazareth are the one Person. This has taken place through the operation of the Holy Spirit. Communion or koinonia is the Spirit poured out into our hearts from the Father through the Son. The Spirit is the very Love of God Himself and therefore it is the very love of God Himself that is poured into our hearts. It is not something emanating from God but it is God Himself who is with us and in us. We are actually partaking in who God is in Himself. God as the Word who became flesh is now part of us. God who rose from the dead is also inserted into our very being.
All that is true about Jesus Christ and we are talking about, the uncreated Truth, is now also inserted into us and we dwell in this uncreated Truth. This Truth has united itself to whatever we call truth and has become one. His response therefore becomes our response to everything God needs to hear from us. The Reality of God, something that in ages gone by that was kept from us is now shockingly and explosively brought into the realm of human reality in Jesus Christ. This why it is so important to maintain the integrity of Jesus Christ as God from God, Light from Light and the same being with the Father. We undermine this eternal truth then we lose our anchor and cast off into the stormy seas of human imagination.
With the resurrection, everything that is said about God has a reference point in the Son of God Jesus Christ. If the resurrections did not happen, then we lost in our ability to have God made known to us. Without the resurrection we are still kept in the dark lost in our brokenness of our dark depraved humanity. Everybody’s view of God would just be as valid as each other. The resurrection means that what we say about Jesus Christ is the very same thing we are saying about who God is in Himself, what He is towards us and the point of which our destinies our being driven towards. We are able to articulate the very things of God and His real engagement with us means our speech can conform to Godly ways of speaking. The ground of the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ is the foundation of the very ground of our existence and part of our very being.
In Jesus Christ, God is no longer beyond our knowledge. Jesus Christ is God’s knowledge present to us in human ways of knowing and speaking. The acts of Jesus Christ are not merely symbolic of what happens in the spiritual realm. It is who God is in Himself breaking into our existence, making Himself a part of it and at the same time, transforming us so that we can be eternally part of His life. It is an eternal event made real in our temporary life transforming our way of life into something that is now eternal, just like God is eternal. His reality is now part of our reality. The resurrected Jesus Christ is God’s Personal Promise of His eternal covenant bond to be the God of human beings no matter what the cost, ratified.
Whatever problem humanity created in their hostility between themselves and God, whatever estrangement and darkness caused by humanity’s darkness and depravity has now been bridged by God stepping in humanity’s plight and making their plight His very own. In steeping into our plight as one of us and as our ally, Jesus Christ was able to heal and bring light to all our darkness and confusion about who God is in Himself. The resurrection therefore is the act of God far superior to any event in history showing us where all theology must begin. The resurrection is the reality of God of which we are all a part of. It is God’s good judgement on creation bringing to completion the very decision made before the foundation of world that we are now made to be as unique as He is in Himself.
“There is no Christian knowledge of God which does not acquire its ultimate fullness and depth from a revelation of God in the Risen One” (p. 74).