Jesus tells us: “I am the resurrection and the life” John 11.25
Early Christians switched the day of worship not to the day before the Sabbath, Friday, when Jesus was crucified but to the day after, Sunday, when he rose from the dead. Today is Sunday and we are Christians:
Why do we do what we are about to do?
In our quest to remember what the people in Jesus’s audience forgot about the messiah we have forgotten what they remembered.
Psalms 132 tells us that a Descendent of David would be enthroned forever
Psalms 16 tells us that this King will not undergo decay
Psalms 110 tells us that this King who is of and yet above David is also a priest and that he will conquer and judge the world
The Old Testament does say that the Messiah was going to be a king; it said it over and over. Most Jews in first century Palestine were comfortable with that kind of Savior-King. But they had the wrong sort of king in mind.
What they couldn’t wrap their minds around a savior who was suffering servant despite what is written in Isaiah 53, that the messiah was to be God’s Suffering Servant.
Jesus had to spend most of his time teaching what the kingdom is like, not that it wasn’t a kingdom. Jesus had to make the crowds and his disciples understand his vicarious suffering as a ransom for our sins.
We however love the sacrificial Savior and the crucified Christ.
We love the suffering, and rejoice in the gift of forgiveness through Jesus’ sacrifice. The biggest Christian blockbuster film, Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, as the title suggests, is 2 hours about suffering and a 30 second postscript about the resurrection. Modern Christians understand the Messiah’s suffering and sacrifice.
BUT. We can’t wrap our heads around a king. We don’t want anyone to tell us what to do.
Aren’t we the Wealthiest, best Educated, most Enlightened people the world has ever known?
We don’t tolerate Kings, or Queens, Chieftains, Dictators, or Presidents for Life. We are proud citizens of a republic and we have rights.
We bow to no man
We bow to no God-Man.
You shake hands in a democracy. You kneel before your king.
Christians are NOT proud citizen of a republic with rights
Christians are humble subjects of a king with grace given privileges and duties and responsibilities.
This tells us something about what the resurrection is for.
The resurrection wasn’t necessary for forgiveness. Before the Crucifixion there were Countless guilt offerings in the temple. As revealed in Leviticus God graciously provided these sacrifices as a way for repentant Israel to be forgiven of their sins.
And no sheep ever came back. All of those sacrifices stayed dead. It’s what sacrifices do. When you kill an animal, or a man, it isn’t coming back.
Jesus is more than a guilt offering. Jesus is more than a sacrifice. God raised him from the dead with an immortal body. Jesus ascended to the right hand of God. God enthroned him.
The resurrection gives me more than the forgiveness of the sacrifice–for which I am incredibly thankful–it gives me hope. It gives me hope that I like Jesus and unlike those sheep might “come back”.
It gives me hope that I will not face the corruption of death, that I will have a resurrection body like Jesus who is both Savior and King.
It is tempting to stop here, with another “privilege” and ignore the “responsibility”.
We will have resurrection bodies like our resurrected king. This turns me (all of us I hope) away from moralistic therapeutic deism towards obedience and submission of my will to a risen and enthroned king.
This is how we reconcile Jesus sayings that it is both easy and difficult to be his disciple. Entrance into the kingdom is easy. God is gracious indeed. But the standards for those inside the kingdom are much higher than we might like, if you don’t find it difficult to be like your king, you are doing something wrong.
Living like Jesus lived is the expected response, responsibility, to God’s grace not a legalistic condition to earn God’s grace
I shall not just be thankful for Jesus taking one for the team so I can wallow in cheap grace.
I shall, as a member of his kingdom, serve my risen and enthroned king and work to improve and expand his kingdom.
The resurrection and enthronement of Jesus makes me serve a king not merely benefit from a sacrifice.
And NOW, just as Jesus resurrection is the first fruits of our promised resurrection the Lord’s Supper we celebrate now is an appetizer for the heavenly banquet we read about in Isaiah 25.6-9.
6 On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine the best of meats and the finest of wines. 7 On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations; 8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.
The Lord has spoken. 9 In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
Jesus told the twelve at the last supper (in Luke 22.16 and 18 and parallels Matt 26.29 and Mark 14.25) that he won’t eat the Passover again until it is the wedding feast of Revelation 19 when his bride, the church, joins him in the resurrection.
Join me in blessing the bread as we look forward to that wedding feast.
“Father, bless this bread, Jesus’ body, as we remember the body that he sacrificed so we might be forgiven as well as his resurrection body, the immortal body of our living king that gives us hope of joining the feast that has been promised to us. AMEN”
“Father, bless this cup, Jesus’ blood, blood that he shed to wash us of our sins, a sacrifice which we did not deserve. I pray that we will all mimic Jesus sacrificial life until we hear the words ‘well done good and faithful servant’ AMEN”