Does it seem strange that after his Resurrection Jesus does not show himself to Pilate, Herod, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin, or others who had apprehended, accused, clamored against, prosecuted, and crucified him–and would have been dumbfounded to see him alive and well–but instead shows himself to his lowly former associates who had not proved themselves very stalwart after all? Sure, he could have created quite a stir among political and religious officialdom…but would they have shown anything except fright, even terror? If he had simply wanted to do something for effect, this would have achieved that purpose. But evidently Jesus intended much more and very different. He desired repentance, turnabout, and trust, so the follow-up would have to be linked to his previous doing and teaching because only these made clear the kind of lifestyle he wanted to propagate on earth. The Jewish leaders and Roman authorities knew little about these, even misrepresenting and twisting what they did know. Therefore, “This One God rouses the third day, and gives him to become disclosed, not to the entire people, but to witnesses who have been selected before by God–to us who ate and drank together with him after his rising from among the dead. And he charges us to herald to the people and to certify that this One is he who is specified by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To this One are all the prophets testifying: Everyone who is believing in him is to obtain the pardon of sins through his name “ (Acts 10:40-43). [1/20/94]
Jesus, as his name signifies, is Jehovah-with-us-for-the-sake-of-our-salvation. So whereas God, the Father of Jesus, is Jehovah above and beyond us, Jesus, the Son of God, is Jehovah with (“among”) us in person, and the Holy Spirit–the spirit of God and of Messiah Jesus–is God with (“in”) us in spirit, i.e., in motivation. The Resurrection of Christ was God’s demonstration of the shape of our salvation as human beings. Such a salvation was quite at home in and adapted to this creation. Had he stayed longer than 40 days, we may have expected fresh wonders even greater than those he performed before. But he wanted us to get in on the act of salvation too! So he left us and sent the Holy Spirit, the divine motivator of wholesomeness, from his Father to us instead, to be actually within us and not simply alongside us in the person of himself. What an unspeakable Gift! [8/2/94]
The Levitical marking of days, tithes, tribes, foods, functions, tabernacle furnishings, and a host of other items, as “clean” or “unclean” could never be dispensed with or transcended in the interest of universalizing the worship of the true God, Jehovah, until the promised gift of the very Spirit of holiness, power, and life had been poured out. The reason for this becomes clear when we ponder the nature of wholesomeness (holiness) in its integral relation to the agelong life or physically energizing vitality that mankind lost due to Adam’s downfall. The magnitude of that loss could not be historically manifest prior to the incarnation of God’s Spirit uniquely in Jesus of Nazareth. He stunningly demonstrated by his miraculous restorative power precisely the legacy of humanity that was surrendered by Adam’s sin. Jesus could touch the diseased, even the dead–the “unclean”–without himself becoming unclean, because in him the polarity of power was reversed so that God’s uncreated life flowed back into creation to recreate degenerated structures. Without this power getting restored in Christ to believing humanity, all created objects that were marked off as “unclean,” although not structurally evil in themselves, were hazards to human life. God in His love and kindness had to warn His people of such infecting and defiling dangers because they were not yet able to obtain His own Wholesome Spirit; their lives were yet in jeopardy from “original mortality.” [2/21/94]
Not God’s righteousness in Himself but His justice for us as demonstrated in recorded history is the ground of our expectation of the future. (The Hebrew and equivalent Greek words contain both nuances.) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the grand historic centerpiece that demonstrates the Father’s justice to Jesus. Moreover, whatever Jesus was bequeathed in the covenant on the grounds of his faithful obedience to the Father, he may justly and rightfully bestow upon whomever he desires. Among other benefits, God gave him the right to have daughters and sons who could inherit parcels of territory in God’s future Kingdom as members of his body, offspring of his household. [8/28/94]
The incomparable superiority of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead as a sign and miracle to historically demonstrate and prove God’s justice is the immovable fulcrum by which we are to gain the leverage of discernment against every subsequent claim to our credence on the basis of a contemporary sign or miracle. For all modern signs and miracles have been already divinely relativized as to their potential corroborative significance by their unflattering comparison with that supremely attested act of God.
Nevertheless, the Resurrection of Christ not only radically relativizes every other possible sign or miracle, but, far from giving succor to cessationism (the belief that miracles ceased after the first generation of the church), it also urges on the body of Christ to draw upon the now irrefutably manifested power of the coming Kingdom of God in order to continue its testimony from generation to generation until Christ returns to earth in person. Signs and wonders ought always to be the companion of Kingdom proclamation, for they are the divinely appointed means for advancing it against the Darkness and for drawing human beings to the Light. So although their saving effect upon their practitioners and even their beneficiaries may sometimes appear sadly null, yet their legitimating effect upon the accompanying message is yet profound. And for observers who take the hint and trust the Lord therein proclaimed, the proof may even mature into conclusiveness. The proof is in the pudding. [9/13/94]