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The Life of Jesus Christ: Jesus' Resurrection

Revelation 21:5 and John 20-21

In many ways our annual spring-time celebration of Jesus’ resurrection was far less than it usually is. COVID restrictions were brand new and we had to settle for a fully online worship experience that day in April, 2020. However, since the Lord led us to study “The Life of Jesus Christ” through all four of the gospels, of course we would have a second chance to properly celebrate. By His grace, restrictions are far less and we can gather for a second resurrection Sunday with joy and community, while many will continue to joyfully engage online.

Today I will attempt to engage this rich, beautiful, central and in some ways comprehensive theological and practical topic by examining one verse from the book of Revelation. Yes, not even a text from the gospels. Our chosen foundational text is from Revelation 21:5:

And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”

The specific word used here for “new” is one of the two most common in the New Testament. The first (not this word) is neos, used to describe something new in time, something that was not there before but is now. It can therefore describe something that is young.

The second word (our word for today and the one in Revelation 21:5) is kainos, which describes something new in nature, something new and distinctive, something recent in contrast to something that is old, especially where the old is obsolete.

Thus in the New Testament, kainos is used to describe the new heavens and the new earth, new wine, a new name given to believers, a new song they sing, the new creation, the new man of conversion faith, the new covenant, new birth, new commandment (love), new wineskins, new teaching, new tongues, new garments, new creature and a new tomb.

You might immediately think of some of Paul’s words. The most important for our discussion might be 2 Corinthians 5:17 (both uses of the word new translate kainos):

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come.

In Romans, Paul adds these words directly referencing the resurrection of Jesus and again using a form of kainos which is translated newness. This is Romans 6:4:

“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

There is obviously something beautifully present about the resurrection of Jesus. Paul and others focus on its place in our everyday walk with Jesus.

Eugene Peterson, one of my favorite and most thought-provoking pastors and authors, insightfully warns us that there is a third reality of Jesus’ resurrection that is often neglected. The first and second are clear. First, the resurrection of Jesus is a theological and doctrinal truth about Jesus and history. Second, the resurrection of Jesus is a theological and doctrinal truth about the end times, eschatology and our final destiny. But there is a third reality that impacts us right now in real life - the resurrection of Jesus, in the language of the New Testament, is the central reality of our spiritual formation and growth in Christ.

Peterson writes in his book Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in Everyday Life:


The resurrection life is a practice. It’s not something we practice like practicing musical scales or practicing our golf swing. It is practice in the more inclusive sense in which we say a physician has a practice - work that defines both his or her character and workday. Physicians don’t practice on sick people. They enter the practice of healing. We use the word practice similarly in phrases such as the practice of law, the practice of diplomacy, the practice of prayer. This is the sense in which we practice resurrection - we engage in a life that is permeated by the presence and companionship of the resurrected Jesus in the company of friends.
—Eugene Peterson


Back to our original and central text. The rest of Revelation 21:5 and verse 6 add so much more color, vibrancy, urgency and beauty.

‘I am Alpha and Omega,’ says God to John, ‘the beginning and the end.’ We have already come across this claim by the risen Christ in 1:8. Again, John is hearing the voice that the great prophets had heard: ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god’ (Isaiah 44:6). Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and omega the last. John goes on to amplify this statement. God is the beginning and the end. The word for beginning is archē, and means not simply first in point of time but first in the sense of the source of all things. The word for end is telos, and means not simply end in point of time but the goal. John is saying that all life begins in God and ends in God. Paul expressed the same thing when he said, perhaps a little more philosophically: ‘For from him and through him and to him are all things’ (Romans 11:36), and when he spoke of ‘one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all’ (Ephesians 4:6).
It would be impossible to say anything more magnificent about God. At first sight, it might seem to remove God to such a distance that we are no more to him than the flies on the window pane. But what comes next? ‘To the thirsty I will give water without price from the fountain of the water of life.’ All God’s greatness is at our disposal. ‘God so loved that he gave …’ (John 3:16). The splendor of God is used to satisfy the thirst of the longing heart.”
William Barclay

Could it be that the accuser of the brethren, our enemy, Satan, the devil, is desperately trying to shield our eyes from the right-now meaning and glory of Jesus’ resurrection? The truth is that Jesus’ empty tomb offers for us a centering and central identity as believers and followers of Jesus. We are new creations in Christ. You are new, if you have trusted in Jesus. You were crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20) by your faith. You were raised up with Him (Romans 6:4). His empty tomb is your empty tomb.

And as good as that is, perhaps the best part is forward. Now you get to live in this truth.


Family Discussion Questions:

1. Is it hard for you to believe in Jesus’ real, bodily resurrection from the dead? Why or why not

2. Why do you think it was difficult for some of Jesus’ best friends to believe (Thomas), while for others it seems it was easier (Mary Magdalene)?

3. What do you think Jesus’ resurrection means for you today, right now?

4. How might the reality and power and promise of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead impact the way you face your greatest fears and biggest struggles?

5. Spend some time praying together as a family. Focus on expressing your gratitude to God for all He has done for you.


Small Group Discussion Questions:

1. Why do you think the resurrection of Jesus has been attacked and examined more than any other historical event?

2. Are you familiar with popular arguments for and against Jesus’ real, bodily resurrection from the dead? Briefly review them in discussion.

3. What story elements, from the four gospel accounts, provide unique evidence to its truthful reality?

4. Discuss the first text from the sermon today, Revelation 21:5. Survey the immediate context and discuss who is speaking and what the speaker is referencing in the opening statement of this verse.

5. Read Romans 6:4 and its context. What does this passage reveal about a right-now resurrection identity?

6. What about Romans 8:11? What about Ephesians 2:5-6? Look at Philippians 3:10 and Colossians 3:1 and following.

7. What do you think about “practicing resurrection” as in Eugene Peterson’s quote above?

8. Discuss how Jesus’ resurrection is central to a right-now resurrection identity available to all believers in Jesus.
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