The Kingdom of God and the Resurrection of Jesus
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is, needless to say, a seminal event in history. So much has been written; the possible implications are huge, but for this discussion, I’ll keep in a Kingdom context. The first thing we can learn from this event is that Jesus is our contemporary; He is with us now, living and working in our midst. In addition, as He promised His disciples, His Spirit lives within us, ready and able to comfort, guide and lead us in our service to Him, fulfilling Jesus’ promise in Matthew 28: 28: “Surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” “The age” is the very same age in which we are living right now.
Secondly, it tells us that there is life after death. I realize that many people have a hard time with this concept; even Christians. I however, have no problem with this concept, because I’m already doing it in a sense. If I might be permitted a little aside, here’s my hilarious story (told in full for the first time “in public”): In 1989, I was pronounced dead in the hospital from carbon monoxide poisoning, of course I had no idea at the time. After a period of time, I woke up. As I discovered, I was on a gurney moving down a hallway to the morgue. All I knew was that I was under a sheet and it seemed like I was in motion. I threw the sheet off and sat up saying something like, “Hey, what’s going on?” The orderly who was pushing the gurney, a really big young man, let go of the still rolling gurney, jumped back and started screaming (poor guy) and ran off down the hall. I almost hopped off the gurney to pursue him, but then I realized three things: First, I was really light headed and would probably just fall. Second, I realized that this must be nothing more than a strange dream (which turned out to be wrong) and third I was naked as a jaybird, and there were lots of people in the hall, all of whom seemed terrified: I stayed put. Then, I was overcome with the sense of how comical the whole thing was, and I began to laugh uncontrollably.
Next, a whole bunch of people came running toward me. When they arrived, somebody grabbed hold of the gurney and rushed me back to wherever I had come from. They hurriedly started hooking up wires and various other things, including an oxygen mask, telling me to breathe deeply; all of these people were… let’s just say, frantic. I objected quite strenuously when they started sticking needles into the joints of my thumbs to take blood samples; not something I recommend for fun times, but they persisted and rushed the samples to the lab, telling me to just relax. You must understand I still had no idea what was going on… most likely a dream…
They told me later, that in those blood samples they took after I woke up, the carbon monoxide level in my bloodstream was about 7 times a fatal level; I simply cannot b alive.
I must say, that even now when I recall that scene, I can’t do so without laughing aloud; what a spectacle!
I can also tell you that for a Christian at least, there is nothing to be afraid of in dying. No, I wasn’t hovering around the room as some have reported, nor did I see any lights or anything. I wish I could tell you some great scene I witnessed or of a face to face with God, but I can only tell you that it was the best sleep I’ve ever had. The process dying can be a little messy though, and it is definitely undignified… but there is nothing to fear.
Of course, this is not the same thing as the resurrection on the last day; for I will die again one of these days… and now you know why I can be a little passionate on certain subjects.
OK, back to the subject at hand:
Resurrected persons have bodies; they are not ghosts or disembodied spirits. Like Jesus, they retain their memories, personalities and identities; everything that makes a person the person they are. Resurrected persons, like Jesus are transformed, having a better, more glorious, more exalted and more lasting kind of existence.
Third, the resurrection of Jesus marks the beginning of the general resurrection anticipated in Apocalyptic Theology. Thus, Paul would describe Him as the “firstborn” of those who have “fallen asleep”. Consequently, Christ’s resurrection is really our source of hope that we too will be resurrected, something I can say with certainty. To avoid running up the word count, I’ll break this discussion for now; we’ll pick up next time at this point. I would like to tell you one more thing from my own experience:
I always thought that I had a calling of some kind, even as a child. Yet even though I had this sense, I didn’t know what it was; maybe you have the same experience. After I woke up on that odd day in 1989, my memory was fuzzy. In the end, I lost quite a bit of it. It was 2 weeks before I remembered my address and phone number for instance. I lost, never to be recovered memories of 1987-1988, and when my head finally cleared, memories from high school, (early 70’s) seemed like yesterday. Before the carbon monoxide episode, I had possessed what some called a “photographic memory”. I could prepare for a test in school by just looking at the book. While I was taking the exam, I could recall looking at the book, and read it word for word; every test was “open book” for me. I could quote a professor’s lecture word for word as well… an unfair advantage. That has never come back, woe to me, but I had information and comprehension of certain things that wasn’t there before. Most importantly, I knew my calling, and all doubts were gone forever… or at least so far. Naturally, however, I had to spend the next 12 years running away from my calling… because I wanted to do something else. (Maybe some of you have that experience as well.)
Silly me! I wasted 12 years.