1. Hope of a Meaningful Life
The gospel is God’s promise that our life, values, actions, the cross, death, and resurrection in some way will follow a pattern of Jesus’. Christ’s life/death/resurrection is the hope of a meaningful/purposeful life – along with Christ, in the current creation as well as in the new creation (Rev 21-22).
2. Christ’s Resurrection – Dawn of New Creation
The current creation “has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth… we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23). Revelation 21-22 talks about the new creation (where there will be no more pain, no more tears, no more mourning, no more death, etc.
2.1. Jesus Did Not Come ‘Back‘ to Life!
Jesus was not the first to come to life after death. It happened to Lazarus a few days before Jesus. So what is the difference? The difference is that Lazarus came back to life and it was reversible in the sense that he died again. Jesus did not come back to life. Instead, he moved forward to a new level/dimension of life, where he retained the physical body.
2.2. Jesus’ Tomb Was Not Empty!
Jesus’ tomb was not fully empty – the clothes were still there. If the tomb was totally empty without the grave clothes, it might give some credence to the theory that the body was stolen (though the fact that armed guards were protecting it, makes that nearly impossible – not to talk of the multiple public post-resurrection appearances and the witnesses who were willing to die to testify).
John 20:6 says that Simon Peter went into the tomb and “He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen”. Later John “also went inside. He saw and believed” – John 20:8. The gospel writers found it important to mention these details, so let us not call it an empty tomb.
2.3. Why Was the Stone Rolled?
So what does it mean that the “cloth was still lying in its place” and what is it that John saw that he immediately believed based on what he saw in the tomb? L.T. Jeyachandran has suggested that the cloth was in the same position as it was when it was wrapped around Jesus and that he could come out without disturbing the clothes. Later John 20:19 seems to indicate that Jesus could come into a room with a locked door. It is explicitly made clear that Jesus’ resurrection was physical (and that there is continuity, as Jesus still has the scars to show to Thomas). So if post-resurrected Jesus can enter the closed room, it could mean that the stone was not rolled to let Jesus out but to let us in!
2.3. Glorious Body of a Different Dimension?
L.T. Jeyachandran narrates a science fiction story by Indian mathematician Jayant Narlikar published in a magazine called ‘Science Today’. It is about a house with 11 dimensions (we know 3 dimensions + time). It suggests that a body belonging to a higher dimension will not resist a lower dimensioned body. In a 11 dimension house – we as 3 dimension person can go through that house without realizing it was there. Probably something like that is what happened to the body of Jesus. It was probably raised to another dimension.
That is why he could go through the tomb without disturbing the clothes. Could come through walls of the upper room – yet could lower himself to our dimensions, and offer himself to be touched and verified by disciples.
2.4. Seal of Approval on the Material World
Those of us brought up in eastern culture tend to elevate the “spiritual world” over the physical, but through Jesus’ incarnation and physical resurrection, the promise of our own physical resurrection, and the description of the new creation, God has put a seal of approval on the material world and its potentially eternal relevance.
2.5. Let’s Take our Work Seriously
Colossians 3:23-24: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ”
2.6. Dawn of New Creation
Christ’s resurrection marks the beginning, the dawn/inauguration of this new creation). To raise from the dead with new material body, there has to be a new creation
3. United With Him in a Resurrection Like His
Our life in Christ is a continuum. This life, after death and in the New Creation. As Paul says:
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his” – Romans 6:5.
Bible teaches that Christ’s resurrection is the pattern that our resurrection will follow (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Cor. 15:49). As we live this life, we are looking forward to a new level of life.
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death” – Philippians 3:10
“Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” – Philippians 3:20-21
3.1. What Will We Do in New Creation?
So if our post-resurrection bodies are physical (same body with new properties), what will we do in the new creation? The book of Genesis says that God formed man from the dust of the ground (matter) – and breathed into him the breath of life (spirit). We are a combination of spirit and matter and Genesis says that we are in charge of the material world (Genesis 1:26-28, Genesis 2:15 – cultivate and take care of it, etc). This was before the fall. Work was there before the fall, – just that it became a toil, seeped with injustice, abuse, exploitation, etc after the fall. But this is still God’s world.
Let us see the description of the new creation.
Some of the characteristics of the new Jerusalem:
- Coming down out of heaven from God (Rev 21:2)
- There will be no more night (Rev 22:5)
- Gates will never be shut, for there will be no night there (Rev 21:25).
So the new Jerusalem is described as a “Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Rev 21:2). It is not described as we going up.
In Old Testament, gates are shut at night, during the war with an enemy, and on the sabbath day. In the new creation, there is no sabbath means we will be working all days!
3.2 Garden to the City
So is it possible that we will continue to cultivate, explore, research, develop science and technology, art, music, literature, etc in the new creation? It seems that based on biblical data, new creation resembles the work that God asked before the fall – even as we move from the garden (Eden) to the City (New Jerusalem).