Today’s post is the continuation of yesterday’s post which can be found here. We shall explore the points outlined yesterday within the framework of my crucifixion reflections.
The God of Life
The God of Life
Resurrection says that God could not stay dead. God is a God of life and death is not compatible with this God and his means of agency. As the triune God interacted with the world in Christ that agency brought God’s manner of life to earth and the crucifixion brought that manner of life to death.
The resurrection says that God could not be contained. I hope to convey that this is not cheap and this is not easy, I hope this does not convey a Christian optimism that seeks to ‘escape death’ – God, in some way, died in Jesus brutalized and asphyxiated; that is no cheap claim. If Christians affirm the Trinity, it could be said that the Trinity experienced a rupture of the highest order on Good Friday. God experienced himself as forsaken. Yet the resurrection has us affirm that this God, whose internal communion is that of life and love, could not stay dead, broken and incomplete. So we say that the triune God, who became fully manifest in Jesus, raised him from the dead (Rom. 8:11), because the God of life cannot stay dead, even when bound to the frailty and contingency of a human. Death becomes another chaos that this God, in interacting with, must push back.
The forgiveness in resurrection
Additionally, the resurrection says that we must see our violence, our oppression, our ever-provisional means of controlling that which we inhabit, as redundant. They are no longer a threat to a man who is bodily alive after being thoroughly bodily dead.
“having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Col. 2:15
The politicians, the priests, the people, who feared the behaviour and threat of this man did what all noteworthy institutions do, silenced the enemy. The resurrection says that the God who speaks for the poor and the oppressed, the maligned, the victims, those lacking the provision of justice will not stay quiet, this God has removed the threat of finality from the weapon of death these people use to silence there problems. But more than this, just as the crucifixion of Jesus signifies God’s refusal to adopt the moral high ground of judgement and condemnation, instead serving us in bearing the violence of our sin to death, rendering it nothing and in the process forgiving us completely; instead offering us life in which he promises we shall experience his own resurrection as we are welcomed as members in his kingdom community. The resurrection shows this forgiveness to be a message of life giving substance, to be communicated to all, even the orchestrators of Jesus death themselves (Acts 4 – just consider the immensity of Jesus, represented by and indwelling Peter and John, returning to the court that condemned him, announcing that salvation is an option for them through him (v12), that is forgiveness at its most intense).
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14
Jesus, when he has passed through death, is restored to the world as the place and name in which any and every human being may find grace and hope and identity.
With all of this in mind let’s draw out more fully what we it looks like when we connect these points with particular details of Jesus’ life and how that is embraced in the resurrection.
Jesus, the resurrected king
The resurrection involves the resurrection of the king of Israel. Jesus’ death was orchestrated, by the aforementioned court, because the claims he made about himself, the message he carried with those claims and the challenge to the men in power that came with those claims and message was enough to unsettle them as Jesus challenged the channels of power. The claims involved messiah- and king-ship, the message was that as God’s king, God’s kingdom looked like what he talked about and lived, it did not look like what Herod and the Sanhedrin talked about and lived. In this way the crucifixion is the killing of a rival.
It is then clear that inversely the resurrection vindicates this rival as God’s king, bringing God’s socio-political, taking up actual space on earth, way of doing things – also known as, God’s kingdom. The resurrection is the news that the way Jesus, Israel’s king, taught and lived, is the way those who self-identify as his people also live and move and act communally. This is a way open to all, it invites all because while this story is particular to Israel’s history and story and involves its God and king, this story is universal in scope because this God is understood to have created all things and implicated all things in the resurrection of this king, who has himself been put in charge of all things (Matt. 28:18, Acts 17:31, Philippians 2:6-11, Colossians 1:15-20).
The resurrection of the kingdom
With this in mind it is also quite clear that the resurrection is therefore the resurrection of the kingdom of God. When Jesus dies the kingdom of God vision he spoke of died with him. It was as redundant as the failed messiah’s life. Jesus’ resurrection brings that vision cascading out of death with him. The kingdom of peace, life, justice, hope, that challenged the powers that be in Jesus’ life, is raised as a reality that exists beyond death; it cannot be subject to the same contingency, transience and provisionality that all current structures undergo due our world’s fundamentally entropic character. The kingdom exists with the same living after death energy of Jesus himself.
The character of the kingdom is crucifixion and resurrection
It is here we must see the kingdom of God as intimately bound with the nature of the God revealed most characteristically in the crucifixion and resurrection. The kingdom of God as a kingdom of peace, life, justice and hope is such because that is the God we see reflected in Jesus himself. God is characteristically a God of love and forgiveness, God refuses to take up arms and exists non-violently. God stands with the marginalized and oppressed. God becomes the victim at the hands of those who would make him such. God reveals in Jesus that this way of living is not just a viable option; it is seen, in the resurrection, to be the only serious option bearing hope for approaching life and its end. The kingdom of God, announced and witnessed to in gospels is of this same character. Accordingly the people of that kingdom, its citizens, which includes the church, are to be people of this exact ilk. The resurrection says that people who wish to be identified with the resurrecting God’s way of doing things must be a people who participate in the life affirmed by the resurrection.
Jesus is the resurrected king of Israel, the resurrection marked the raising of the kingdom he lived his life realising. The resurrection makes life in this kingdom-community possible and life in this community is a life that manifests the crucifixion and resurrection. Disciples of Jesus become a community that picks up their crosses and follow a king in whom God walked the earth, who after being three days dead was raised to life – his followers can do no less than go the way of death and life.