This past week me and the kids have been having this discussion about Jesus’ resurrection. Of course we all know that Christians, all over the world, will be celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth this weekend. And there will be a plurality of ways in which Christians will be doing this, whether Catholic or Protestant or Eastern Orthodox, or whatever in between, they will be celebrating God’s raising of Jesus from the dead. This morning we climaxed our week long conversation with why Jesus’ death and resurrection has significance. My kids understand the basic outline of Christ’s passion and resurrection, but when engaged in that ‘so what?’ I got blank stares. Which is quite indicative of my discipling skills as a Christian father. But I pressed them on about it. Which led us to some thinking about scripture. I told them the key to understanding the significance of Jesus’ resurrection lays in how they understand his life and his death.
What was his life in the gospels about?
In the gospels Jesus preached about the coming kingdom of God. He proclaimed repentance and trust to be requisite for entrance into this kingdom. And in the gospels Jesus lives out the implications of this coming kingdom. He engages in many things in the gospels that point to and were an embodiedment of that kingdom. In the gospels Jesus is presented as a coming king proclaiming the good news of victory of his coming kingdom. But his kingdom was of a very different nature and character from other kinds of kingdom. To get a picture of how his kingdom is different read the Gospels.
Why did he die?
Typically Christians will give the short, easy, and lazy answer “he died for my sins.” That’s too easy and it doesn’t require one to think hard about the very deep reason why Jesus died. We don’t want to unpack what it means to say that Jesus died for our sins. Jesus was killed primarily because of the kind of kingdom he preached, taught, and lived about. There was something about this kingdom he so much talked about that it got those in power very scared. They were somehow threatened by his message of the kingdom of God. So what do all ‘sincere’ rulers and kings do to people they feel are a threat to the established ‘order’ or ‘kingdom’? They get rid of them. Jesus was killed because of the message and life he lived. A life that pointed to a heavenly order that transcended the order of men and would-be kings. The present age, as it is ruled by the flesh, the world, and the devil, killed Jesus. Jesus was killed by spiritual forces of wickedness, as embodied by Jewish sympathizers to the Romans and the Roman Empire. Jesus was killed by a political/social/spiritual order (Rome) as it was possessed by demonic forces. Why? Because Jesus presented a different order that simply said your time of rule is almost up! Jesus was essentially saying, “there is a new Sheriff in town!” But what do you do to a new Sheriff that wants to change things, get people to live differently than the older order, challenge the legitimacy of the older order? You kill that nuissance of a Sheriff. In that day, you crucified nuissances. So they did. That’s is why we celebrate Good Friday. The new Sheriff in town was killed by demon possessed outlaws.
“so what?” my kids asked. The new Sheriff was killed. And?
But something strange happened. The Sheriff is killed, yet he re-appears again. They can’t seem to get rid of this new Sheriff. Which is even more scary because of what this new Sheriff represented. This new Sheriff represents a new order, a new kingdom, a whole new way of living in God’s world, a way of life that is not determined by the deceptions and illusions of the older order or sheriffs. So it wasn’t just that this new Sheriff was somehow brought back to life that was scary, but what this new Sheriff represented…the coming of a new kingdom and city whose builder and maker is God.