The remarkable story of the resurrection of Lazarus in John chapter 11 signifies Jesus’ power of the resurrection. However the resurrection of Lazarus was not like the resurrection of Jesus.
One presumes that Lazarus died again. Even though he dies again, he once again is implicated in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is one obvious difference here. Just like Lazarus, Jesus was born of His mother Mary, where both Jesus and Lazarus shared the same flesh of any human being bearing the same fallen condition. When Jesus rose from the dead, He did not rise to His old condition. Not only did He defeat the powers of darkness, but in doing so He recreated and transformed the humanity He inherited from Mary, and was crucified. Not only was His own humanity transformed into something completely new, but this had the same impact on the whole of creation. Thus, if we are going to speak about events within the new created order, then a new language has to coincide with the new way of seeing and the new way of knowing.
Again we are speaking of a corporate resurrection that has been administered altogether with Jesus Christ’s own resurrection as a very real event for the believer. The very same power that raised Jesus from the dead is also in us and it is this power that we are tasting and participating in. The overwhelming and overflowing fullness of God overflows into us (Col 2:9-10).
I sit here at my computer and carry out something that only 20 years ago could never be imagined. I am typing into a server that is halfway around the world, and at the click of a button it is viewed by the whole world. I had to undergo a complete willingness to learn from a technology that was totally foreign to my way of thinking. The only similarity that this website has with 20 years ago is the keyboard of the electric typewriters. As I progressed into the world of cyberspace, the more complicated the process appeared to be until someone in the know was able to show me how simple it really is. All along the way, it is information that comes to me from the outside and I have to conform my way of seeing and knowing to understand how it all works. I have to conform to the ways of the internet.
In the very same way, when we are confronted by an event that has happened at one time in history in a specific cultural context, as we have no insight into its inner workings, we have to allow the event and its implications to have its way in us. As the internet has had a universal impact on our whole way of life, so too has the resurrection. However, the internet goes only so far. While there are people around the world who have never seen a computer, on the other hand the resurrection impact is total and throughout, where nothing in the whole of the created order is left out. Therefore, to fully understand the resurrection, we must allow the full and ultimate impact to fall on us and we must work within this truth.
It is the believers who have the ability to come closer to understanding this event in its true context. If we try to fathom it from our own fallen ways of seeing and knowing, we fall short. We try to grasp the New Testament witness to lay out the true extent of this event. The foundation on which the resurrection is grounded is from within the circle of love and in union with the Son. Understanding the resurrection is one of participating in the resurrected Jesus Christ. From here we do not try to work out how but rather we try to work out why.
If we try to set up our own rules based on what we believe is right or wrong, or try to create God in the image of a human being, then the evidence before us might be completely missed or misunderstood. The believer who is prepared to listen and learn from the new way of being in Jesus Christ is in the best position to properly weigh up the resurrection event.
There is an ultimate act and an ultimate grounds from which the resurrection is to be understood before its real knowledge and experience are possible. It is an objective reality, but one that includes us in the mind that comprehends the meaning of this event in the best way possible. The very mind of Jesus has impacted our minds and grounded our way of knowing and seeing in Him. In Jesus Christ, who is in union with our beings, we have been taken up into the very presence of God, so we share in the very divine nature of the being of God Himself. Jesus did not rise alone and for Himself – we were raised with Him. So what has objectively taken place corresponds to our subjective experience of the resurrection event.
In this event there is unity between the spiritual and the physical where they actually overlap and interpenetrate one another. Our view of the world is one of perichoresis in every part of the created order where the ground of everything lies in the One in whom everything live moves and has its being. Our interpretation is in the theme of union with God in Jesus Christ. It is to let this event critique the way we think rather than critique it with what we think we know. It is what we think we know that must be rigorously tested by the resurrection in the context of the Hebrew meaning of this event rather than by adopting non-Jewish interpretations that later arose and influenced the gospel. If we adopt the Hebrew way of thinking, our way will become clearer.
In doing so, we maintain the union of Jesus and His humanity, as well as the human Jesus with the very being of the Father. Therefore the very being of God is active and present in Jesus Christ of Nazareth from the incarnation to the passion and death, as well as the resurrection. This meant for the Jew, a radical review of the doctrine of God had to be undertaken. Torrance says it like this:
“. . . God Himself must be thought of as having visited His people, to take upon Himself their nature and their destiny so that the whole doctrine of God, his relations to the creation, to history, to the guilt and pain of humanity, to all mankind, and therefore even the ancient covenant of God with Israel, had to be reconstructed in the face of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Hence far from countenancing any form of dualism in the relation between God and the world, the resurrection destroyed the very possibility of such a way of thinking for Christians: the non-dualists mode of thought here came to its complete fulfilment in the resurrection of Jesus Christ in Body, and with it a new understanding of the living God whose very being and life are accessible to human knowing and participating.”
There is so much the resurrection can tell us if we would only stand and listen under its transforming power. The early church understood this vitally important frame of reference provided by the New Testament witness of such an event. It is something that happened within and as part of this created order, and this is what Torrance means by space and time. However, even our understanding of space and time needs to be revamped in the light of this event. There has been so much dissection of theology that has caused the gospel to become so far removed from the New Testament culture and meaning. By accepting the fact that the church fathers had a much stronger and clearer grasp of the New Testament Greek than we could ever hope to have, we can look afresh at their way of seeing and knowing such an event as the resurrection. By taking this way of seeing and knowing into the New Testament, we are faced with an utterly staggering event of shocking proportions.