A Resurrection That Matters
There is one more way in which the resurrection of Jesus transforms our understanding of what God has called us to. The resurrected Jesus is the one who has the authority to send us out to the ends of the earth with the assurance that we will not labor in vain.
Matthew is representative of the other Gospels. Only after being raised from the dead can Jesus say, "All authority has been given to me; therefore, go!" From his first appearance to Mary in the garden to his last appearance to Paul on the road to Damascus, when the resurrected Jesus appears, he almost always sends. The vocation and mission of the church as a sent people depends on the resurrected Jesus as our sender.
Together with what we have already seen above, resurrection transforms and empowers Christian mission because (1) the Lord of all the earth is the one who sends us; (2) we are scripted into this Lord's resurrection story such that our own lives and futures are mirrors of his; and (3) the breadth of this mission must encompass the entirety of the created order. This is the Good News: not only a story of forgiveness but also a story of power, of transformation, and of hope.
In Flannery O'Connor's short story "A Good Man Is Hard to Find," the Misfit explains the world-shattering significance of Jesus' resurrection: "He thrown everything off balance. If he did what he said then it's nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow him, and if he didn't, then it's nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can."
With these words O'Connor declared, in concert with the New Testament writers, that the Resurrection is everything. Its truth or falsity determines whether the world has been irrevocably shaken by Easter Sunday or whether, instead, God has left Jesus, us, and the entire created order unanswered in our cries for salvation. No less than this is at stake in our affirmation that Jesus is raised from the dead.
J. R. Daniel Kirk is associate professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary and author of Unlocking Romans: Resurrection and the Justification of God (Eerdmans).
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Previous Christianity Today articles on Easter include:
Peace Be with You | Christ's resurrection not only frees us from death, but also frees us from using it. (April 18, 2009)
Hymn for Easter Day | Charles Wesley's 'Christ the Lord Is Risen Today' brings alleluia's historical significance to modern audiences. (March 30, 2010)
'It Is Finished' But It Is Not Over | God's work of redemption continues in the redeemed. An excerpt from Cross-Shattered Christ. (March 24, 2005)