After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” What a dramatically understated way to announce the renewal of the world. That’s what Christians believe the resurrection signifies. When Jesus walked out of the tomb, it didn’t simply confirm “life after death,” as in “you’ll go to heaven when you die.” It’s much bigger than that! “Resurrection is a second-stage postmortem life,” N.T. Wright explains, “life after ‘life and death.’” Before Jesus comes back again, when Christians die, our bodies decay and our souls go into the presence of God in heaven. But when Jesus comes back again to make all things new, our bodies will be resurrected—forever reunited with our souls in perfect, glorious, imperishable bodies fit for eternity in the new heaven and new earth. Jesus’ resurrected body was the “firstfruits” of that coming reality (1 Cor 15:20-57)! And in the meantime, in this life, God pours out every spiritual blessing upon us in the heavenly places (Eph 1:3) and exerts resurrection power in us so that we can be transformed into the image of Christ (Eph 1:19-20; 4:24)!
When the stone was thrown away from the entrance of the tomb and Jesus emerged, it signified that God’s new world, God’s kingdom, had arrived. The future had broken into the present. The “firstfruits” had come in.
And “firstfruits” implies more fruit is yet to come! As God bears fruit in us, he takes us up in his cause to bear more fruit in others. Because of the resurrection, N.T. Wright notes, “We find ourselves lifted up, set on our feet, given new breath in our lungs, and commissioned to go and make new creation happen in the world.” Matthew 28 ends with the resurrected King endowed with all authority in heaven and on earth commissioning his followers to spread this news and make disciples who live in light of God’s kingdom. Or, as the Apostle Paul explains it: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:17-19).
Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! So, let’s go forth in this joy to love and serve the world as those who love our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Note: Each day’s devotional is written by a different member of the GRC family.