Elsewhere I’ve written about this subject–the significance of Christ’s resurrection as inaugurated eschatology, the bursting of the new creation into the midst of this fallen creation in the person of Jesus Christ who is the resurrected new creation “pioneer” of sorts. But, I’m currently reading Ramachandra’s Faiths in Conflict?; and he summarizes this concept quite well. So, I thought I’d share his thoughts here. If it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying more than once and in more than one way by more than one person, right?
Resurrection, for all first-century Jews, was bound up with the hope of the kingdom of God, of God’s vindication of his people Israel before their pagan enemies and the renewal of his disfigured world.
Resurrection, then, was corporate… public, and physical. … The age to come would be a renewed space-time world in which the righteous dead would be given new bodies in order to inhabit a renewed earth. Thus, the resurrection of the dead – the righteous to eternal life and the wicked to destruction – marked the consummation of the human drama. It spelt the triumph of Israel’s God who was also the universal Creator and Judge of all humanity. Resurrection, marked the dawn of a new world order, the final and supreme manifestation of God’s justice, mercy and power in history.
But … the early Christians proclaimed that the resurrection had occurred in Jesus before the day of resurrection for all. … In the resurrection of Jesus, God not only gives a glimpse and pledge of the new creation, but he announces the dawn of that new creation before its promised fulfillment. Here is a foretaste of the future age in the present.
Resurrection [specifically the general resurrection inaugurated in Christ’s resurrection, the “first-fruits” of the general resurrection, to use Pauline language] is a fresh creative act of God in which he displays his faithfulness to his creation by raising it to new life in his presence beyond death and decay. Resurrection, then, is the Creator’s final act of faithfulness to his creation…
– Ramachandra, Faiths in Conflict? (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 113-114.
To one point that Ramachandra brings out that I find particularly insightful: God’s resurrection work, of which Christ’s resurrection is the initiation and guarantee, is an act of God which is His final and ultimate act of faithfulness to His creation.
As we study redemptive history and the “plot-line of scripture,” so to say, we see over and over again that God is faithful to His creation, which in turn means He is faithful not to utterly destroy humanity in the flood, He is faithful to redeem His creation in His covenant promises, He is faithful to bring those covenant promises to realization, etc. The entire storyline of scripture which is propelled by convent promises made and fulfilled is rooted in God’s commitment to creation. And, therefore, the fulfillment of all of God’s promises in Christ, specifically the inauguration of the New Creation in Christ’s resurrection, is the surest demonstration of God’s faithfulness to His creation. It is the accomplishment of that faithfulness.
In short, the resurrection of Christ is the climax-event in redemptive history.