Resurrection: continuity and discontinuity. Jesus, rises, not someone else. His body can be touched, he can eat. He is recognised. Clearly there is continuity. But there are changes. He appears and disappears from sight. He eats not to stay alive, maybe indicating that eating is always about more than satisfying hunger, but each time we take food we are ‘guests at his table’. Continuity and discontinuity at a personal level. And also at a corporate level.
The Hosea Scripture, ‘on the third day he will raise us up’, indicates that his resurrection was the resurrection of Israel. And because it was the resurrection of Israel there is continuity and there is discontinuity as far as corporate identity is concerned. The second sign of the arrival of the kingdom (resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit) was promised to those who repented, for the promise was for ‘them’, for all those who saved themselves from that corrupt generation (Acts 2:39,40). The crisis had truly come as far as the apostolic preachers were concerned: refuse to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah and the fate will be to be ‘utterly rooted out of this people’ (Acts 3:23), clearly indicating that those who refused the Messiah will no longer be viewed as part of ‘the people’ (Lev. 20:3, 5, 6).
A strong perspective to say the least. But the strength of it is in proportion to the intervention of heaven through the life of Christ. ‘Born of a woman, born under the law’, coming to his own who do not receive him, punished by the twinning together of Imperial and religious powers, but vindicated by heaven.
The very title ‘son of God’ is not a title indicating divinity. Israel was God’s son, called out of Egypt, and Jesus is declared ‘son’ by the resurrection (Rom. 1:4). He is raised as the one true Israel, the one and only truly human one.
The ‘people’ called to be a sign of the age to come, to image themselves (imagine) not on the Imperial powers of the day but on the radical horizontal outworking of a devotion to a God who is not in the image of any Pharaoh nor Caesar, that son had failed. The Son comes and overcomes, even death cannot hold the Author of life.
Such life is so strong that everything has to be redefined. There is continuity – the call continues; there is discontinuity – those in Christ are the children of promise, the descendants of Abraham. It took a while for there to be an outworking of where the Gentiles fitted in the scheme. It seems the early days were spent in seeking to provoke as many (Jews) from the broad way that would only lead to destruction and on to the narrow path that would lead to life. Those early days were spent in persuading Jews. They knew they could be part of the ‘people’, but only if they came through the door of life.
This is not ‘replacement theology’ but Christocentric theology. Christ at the centre of all of God’s purposes redefines everything. Those in Christ have to pick up that calling to be imaged by God for the sake of the world, to be signs that both point to that reality and as signs bring that reality ever closer. Salvation from… is important, but salvation for… is what defines the ‘people’. A Christocentric definition does not necessarily condemn all Jews (and Paul wrestled with that one), nor does it condemn all those outside of Christ. A judgement to come will decide on those issues! It does not condemn, but it calls from that tomb for all who through their obedience to Christ, can humbly line up to be counted among the ‘people’.
Israel, today, cannot be whitewashed for treatment of those who are their neighbours. Any such, unthinking response cannot stand the test of any biblical prophet, and one can only applaud the recent comments by Pope Francis for his public rebuke.
The tasks that lie ahead are enormous; the energy flowing from the tomb though is more than necessary for the fulfilment of the task. The early call was to the Jew; now we understand the call is to one and all for there is no Jew nor Greek, but ‘all’ are in Christ.