Tag Archives: John 20

John 20:30-31 – Gospel Writing and Signs

Introduction:

I want to deal with a couple of things quickly and then spend more time on:

  • John’s role in writing his Gospel.
  • The signs he wrote about.

 

John tells us that he wrote his Gospel “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ” (vs. 31).

  • We spoke last week of Thomas’ confession that Jesus is the “kyrios” which includes Jesus as Messiah.
  • So we needn’t revisit the meaning of this confession now.
  • However, we can quickly survey John for the presence of His stated purpose.

 

Jesus the Messiah – a few examples:

  • John 3:28 (ESV) — 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’
    • John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is the Messiah.
  • John 4:25–26 (ESV) — 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
    • Jesus tells the woman at the well that He is the Messiah.
  • John 7:40–43 (ESV) — 40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him.
    • A crowd at Jerusalem testifies that Jesus is the Messiah.

 

Now, the purpose of this purpose, John tells us, is to bring life.

  • If we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, we will “have life in his name” (vs. 31).
  • What is this life?

 

We recently spent 12 weeks or so studying resurrection.

  • We learned that the phrase “eternal life” literally refers to “life in the age to come”.
  • And in second-Temple Judaism, “life in the age to come” is bodily resurrection life.
  • Is John alluding to this?

 

I think it is clear that resurrection is a significant part of John’s meaning.

  • The intermediate stage of heaven, and even the present life lived before death under Jesus’ Messiahship can certainly be in view as well.
  • But the following texts are unmistakably resurrection verses.
  • John 5:24 (ESV) — 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
    • We know this is resurrection life both because judgment happens at resurrection and eternal life is “life in the age to come” which is resurrection life.
  • John 5:29 (ESV) — 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
  • John 6:40 (ESV) — 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
    • “life in the age to come” = “eternal life” = “raise him up on the last day”
  • John 6:54 (ESV) — 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
  • John 11:25 (ESV) — 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
    • Live how? – Through resurrection life.

 

D.A. Carson sums up well John’s stated purpose and the purpose of his stated purpose.

“He writes in order that men and women may believe a certain propositional truth, the truth that the Christ, the Son of God, is Jesus, the Jesus whose portrait is drawn in this Gospel. But such faith is not an end in itself. It is directed toward the goal of personal, eschatological salvation: that by believing you may have life in his name. That is still the purpose of this book today, and at the heart of the Christian mission (v. 21)” – D.A. Carson.

 

 

1) JOHN WROTE HIS GOSPEL

 

which are not written in this book” (vs. 30) & “many other things that Jesus did

  • When we think about the inspiration of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) it is worth considering to the extent possible, what the writers’ role in this process was.
  • Clearly, we believe, as Jesus taught in John, that the Holy Spirit aided the disciples in remembering the words of Jesus and what they meant.
    • John 14:26 (ESV) — 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

 

But we need to be aware that the Gospel writers compiled Jesus’ teachings, His signs and wonders, and His actions in ways that reflected their personalities, style and purpose.

  • For example, “Peter and the Beloved Disciple represent two different kinds of discipleship: active service and perceptive witness” – Richard Bauckham.
  • These perspectives manifested themselves in their writings.

 

For example, John admits to us that he edited His Gospel to exclude many of Jesus’ signs – “Jesus did many other signs…which are not written” (vs. 30).

  • But he did so for a specific purpose – “so that you many believe” (vs. 31).
  • “John restricted his choice of signs to a group that were especially instructive” – Beasley-Murray.

 

Another example that may demonstrate John’s “perceptive witness” is how he weaves into his Gospel the story of a “cosmic lawsuit” – Richard Bauckham.

This lawsuit, “includes the literal events of judicial proceedings against Jesus by the Jewish authorities, acting in the name of the ‘law’ of Moses, and by Pilate. In deutero-Isaiah [Isaiah 40-55] YHWH brings a case against the gods of the nations and their supporters in order to determine the identity of the true God. He calls on the worshipers of the other gods to demonstrate their reality and supremacy, while he himself calls as witnesses his people Israel and the figure of the Servant of YHWH. It is this lawsuit that the Gospel of John sees taking place in the history of Jesus, as the one true God demonstrates his deity in controversy with the claims of the world. He does so by calling Jesus as chief witness and by vindicating him, not only as true witness but also as incarnate representative of God’s own true deity” – Richard Bauckham.

 

In Isaiah, we saw that the chief witness was the Servant of YHWH.

  • In John’s Gospel, this is Jesus.
  • But John also presents us 6 more witnesses for a total of seven.
    • We will encounter this number seven again in a moment.

 

“The seven witnesses, in order of appearance, are John the Baptist (1:7, etc.), Jesus himself (3:11, etc.), the Samaritan woman (4:39), God the Father (5:32), Jesus’ works or signs (5:36), the Scriptures (5:39), and the crowd who testify about Jesus’ raising of Lazarus (12:17)” – Richard Bauckham.

  • Isaiah 43:10 (ESV) — 10aYou are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.”
  • John 5:36 (ESV) — 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.
  • John 20:30–31 (ESV) — 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

Luke also shows us the nature of the Gospel writers’ involvement.

  • Luke 1:1–4 (ESV) — 1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
  • He tells us that he “followed all things closely” and that he was a recipient of eyewitness testimony.
  • So from both the eyewitness testimony and his own research, he decided to “write an orderly account” of what Jesus did and taught.

 

There are a few important implications concerning the writers’ of the Gospel from these insights.

  • (1) They weren’t robots.
  • (2) “The first Christians were not all illiterate peasant laborers and craftsmen, as the form critics supposed, but evidently included people who studied the Scriptures with current exegetical skills and could write works with the literary quality of the letter of James” – Richard Bauckham.
  • (3) “The early Christian movement was interested in the genuinely past history of Jesus…” – Richard Bauckham.
    • As we said last week, Christianity is not just spiritual it is profoundly historical.

 

 

2) SIGN, SIGN, SIGN, SIGN, SIGN, SIGN, SIGN

 

John admits that there were many other signs Jesus performed.

  • However, he chose not to write about them.
  • What he did choose to do is to highlight signs that helped serve his stated purpose.
  • And in fact, He specifically highlighted seven signs just as he highlighted seven witnesses.

 

What are the signs?

 

Kostenberger, who specializes in John, spent a great deal of time seeking a definition of a “sign” from John’s Gospel and came up with the following:

“A sign [in John] is a symbol-laden, but not necessarily ‘miraculous,’ public work of Jesus selected and explicitly identified as such by John for the reason that it displays God’s glory in Jesus who is thus shown to be God’s true representative (cf. 20:30–31)” – Andreas Kostenberger.

 

There are six signs in John that are recognized indisputably as signs – Kostenberger.

  • 1) Water into wine (2.1-11)
  • 2) The official’s son (4.46-54)
  • 3) The paralysed man at the pool (5.2-9)
  • 4) Multiplication of loaves (6.1-14)
  • 5) The man born blind (9.1-7)
  • 6) The raising of Lazarus (11.1-44)

 

And most agree, given the symbolic importance in John of “seven”, that there must be a seventh sign.

  • The problem is that though “commentators widely agree on six Johannine ‘signs’” there is not much consensus on the seventh – Kostenberger.

 

The most common candidate is when Jesus walked on water in John 6.

  • Andreas Kostenberger makes a very good case that the seventh sign is when Jesus cleared the temple.
  • N.T. Wright, however, argues that the seventh sign is Jesus’ crucifixion.
    • I find his reasoning fascinating.

 

He says, “the crucifixion is the climax and culmination of the ‘signs’ which Jesus has given, following the sevenfold sequence of the old creation” – Wright.

  • The “climax and culmination” of creation was the sixth day – a Friday.
  • The “climax and culmination” of Jesus’ work was the sixth day – a Friday.
  • Wright suggests John wants us to make the connection.
  • Why?

 

He says that the sequence of the seven signs “was always about the new creation bursting in on the old” – Wright.

  • John wants us to see the parallel between these two creations and how Jesus was at the center of both.
  • In Genesis, creation burst into existence from nothing through the “Word”.
  • In John 20, new creation burst into existence from the resurrection of the “Word”.

 

How does John’s Gospel make this connection?

 

“John declares from the start, with the obvious allusion to Genesis 1.1, that his book is about the new creation in Jesus” – N.T. Wright.

  • Wright, and virtually everyone else, says that “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1) is a clear allusion to the beginning of creation in Genesis – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1).
  • And let’s not forget the parallel between the breath of life from Genesis and the resurrection breath of Jesus in John 20.

 

Additionally, we can’t forget the “first day” parallel.

  • And there was evening and there was morning, the first day” (Gen. 1:5).
    • In Genesis, creation began on the first day.
  • In John 20, John makes sure that we are aware that “Easter was ‘the first day of the week’” – N.T. Wright.
    • Now on the first day of the week” (John 20:1)
    • the first day of the week” (John 20:19)

 

In other words, in John 20, the “first day” brought the beginning of a new creation grounded in Jesus’ resurrection.

So “with the resurrection itself, the ultimate ‘sign’ which will explain what Jesus has been doing” new creation has begun – N.T. Wright.

  • “Easter is the start of the new creation” – N.T. Wright.

 

It is worth repeating.

  • In Genesis, creation burst into existence from nothing through the “Word”.
  • In John 20, new creation burst into existence from the resurrection of the “Word”.

 

Wright also suggests that the parallels John is drawing to Genesis 1 go beyond the first day of creation.

  • He argues that John intends us to note direct parallels to days 6 and 7 of creation as well.

“On the sixth day of the creation narrative, humankind was created in the divine image; on the sixth day of the last week of Jesus’ life, John has Pilate declare, ‘Behold the man!’ echoing the creation of humankind on the sixth day of creation” – N.T. Wright.

  • “And, On the cross [on the sixth day] Jesus finishes the work the father has given him to do (17.4), ending with the shout of triumph (tetelestai, ‘it is accomplished’, 19.30), corresponding to the completion of creation itself” – N.T. Wright.
  • “The seventh day is the day of rest for the creator; in John, it is the day when Jesus rests in the tomb” – N.T. Wright.
    • Genesis 2:2 (ESV) — 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.
  • We need to remember, the link is metaphorical here not literal.

 

We could continue by now showing how these seven signs and resurrection demonstrated that Jesus is the Messiah.

  • The very thing John intended then to show.
  • But we dealt with that a little last week.
  • I think we get it.
  • They not only show that Jesus is the Messiah, but that the Messiah is God.

 

 

John 20:24-29 – Biblical Belief

John 20:24–29 (ESV) — 24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

 

Introduction:

not with them” (vs. 24)

  • When Jesus first appeared to the disciples, Thomas was absent.
  • We don’t know why.
  • But that makes little difference to an important principle revealed here.
  • Whether for good reason or bad, when we are absent from the fellowship of our Church, we will miss out on the blessings of fellowship.

 

We have seen the Lord” (vs. 25)

  • When Thomas got the report from the other disciples his response is hardly surprising.
  • Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (vs. 25).
  • We need to remember that as a second-Temple Jew, Thomas had no category of a risen Messiah or one person rising ahead of everyone else.
  • The other disciples and Mary Magdalene were no better.
  • They “got it” when they saw the risen Jesus just like Thomas did.

 

Interestingly, his statement sounds a lot like the post-modern skeptics of our day.

  • “If God exists, why is He hidden?”
  • “Surely, if He wanted me to believe in Him, He need only show Himself”
  • But, does seeing a resurrected Jesus mean you will trust in Him as Savior?

 

John then tells us that “eight days later” Jesus made His second appearance to the disciples (vs. 26).

  • This time, “Thomas was with them” (vs. 26).
  • And as before, “although the doors were locked” (vs. 26), Jesus just sort of appeared.
  • And as before, He said “Peace be with you” (vs. 26).
  • A dead, buried and risen Messiah says, “Peace be with you”.
  • You got think this is loaded with all sorts of meaning!

 

John then brings us to the moment that was set up in verse 24 – an encounter between Thomas and Jesus.

  • Jesus, as He did with Nathanael in John 1, reveals He knows what the disciples thought and said even when He wasn’t there.
  • And he doesn’t scold Thomas.
  • In fact, we need to keep in mind that, “but for the fact that Thomas and the other apostles saw the incarnate Christ there would have been no Christian faith at all” – D.A. Carson.
  • So, Jesus lovingly says to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (vs. 27).

 

John doesn’t make clear if Thomas actually did touch Jesus.

  • But John does make clear what Thomas said.
  • In response to Jesus’ words Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!” (vs. 28).
  • This is well known as the strongest confession of Jesus’ identity in the Gospels.
  • Even more so than Peter’s, Matthew 16:16 (ESV) — 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
  • And to this response Jesus replied, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (vs. 29).

 

It is this last exchange into which we will dive deeper.

 

 

1) MY LORD AND MY GOD

 

At a minimum, before Easter, the disciples believed at least two things about Jesus’ identity.

  • (1) The disciples believed Jesus to be “a prophet mighty in deed” (Luke 24:19).
  • (2) They also believed Jesus to be the Messiah, the “King of the Jews”, “the Lord’s anointed, the promised redeemer” – N.T. Wright.

 

With Jesus’ resurrection these two views would have been solidified.

“The first and most obvious conclusion which the disciples would have drawn, as soon as they came to believe that Jesus of Nazareth had been bodily raised from the dead, was that he was indeed the prophet mighty in word and deed, and that he was, more particularly, Israel’s Messiah. This would not be because they had already believed that the Messiah, when he came, would be raised from the dead, but because the Jesus they knew had been tried and executed as Messiah, and this extraordinary and unexpected event (as it seemed to them) had apparently reversed the verdicts of both the Jewish and the Roman courts” – N.T. Wright.

 

But, from this, how did Thomas arrive at the fact that Jesus was “Kyrios” and “Theos” – Lord and God?

 

Kyrios:

“Kyrios” carries with it the idea of being Master or King over a particular realm.

  • “The concept of lordship combines the two elements of power and authority” – TDNT.
  • It also carries with it the idea of ownership.
  • And it is worth noting that the LXX uses “Kyrios” for the Hebrew “Yahweh”.

 

The realm that is in view here, it must be noted, is all of creation.

  • This includes those creatures who claim to be lord themselves.
  • In other words, to call Jesus “Kyrios” means He is “the world’s true lord” – N.T. Wright.

 

Importantly, identifying Jesus as “Kyrios” is more than the radical theological claim that He is “Yahweh”, the God of the OT, the God of Israel.

  • It is also an “in your face” political statement to all those who think they are in power.
  • Jesus is “Kyrios” of the Jews and the Romans!

 

So how did Thomas arrive at this conclusion?

 

The Jews and the Romans crucified Him as the Messiah, the King of the Jews.

  • Jesus’ words, signs and self title, “Son of Man”, all indicated that He did see Himself as the Messiah.
  • His disciples saw Him as Messiah.
  • And by His resurrection, the Father exalted Him to the throne where He, in fact, assumed His place as the Messiah, the King of the Jews and the Romans.

 

This was His vindication.

  • He was mocked by creation, but the Creator had the last word.
  • This is why the most quoted or alluded to OT verse in the NT is Psalm 110:1.
  • Psalm 110:1 (ESV) — 1 The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
  • Colossians 3:1 (ESV) — 1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

 

Speaking on how Jesus’ resurrection and exaltation confirmed Jesus’ identity, N.T. Wright says:

“The New Testament writers draw on all these to express the point that…they had reached by other means: that Jesus was the Messiah; that he was therefore the world’s true lord; that the creator God had exalted him as such, sharing with him his own throne and unique sovereignty; and that he was therefore to be seen as kyrios. And kyrios meant not only ‘lord of the world’, in the sense that he was the human being now at the helm of the universe, the one to whom every knee, including that of Caesar, must bow, but also ‘the one who makes present and visible what the Old Testament said about YHWH himself” – N.T. Wright.

 

I think John captures Thomas revelation in his opening chapter.

  • John 1:18 (ESV) — 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

 

Theos:

“Theos” is Greek for “God”.

  • The Hebrew equivalent is usually “El”.
  • This proclamation of Thomas goes “hand in glove” with “Kyrios”.
  • The “whats” and “whys” from above apply here.

 

But, importantly, it profoundly links Jesus’ identity to God in the flesh.

  • It is a proclamation that Jesus is God incarnate.
  • And even better, that the Jesus standing before Thomas is the risen God incarnate.
  • John 1:1 (ESV) — 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
  • John 1:14 (ESV) — 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

One other significant thing to consider here is:

  • In Thomas, we have a second-Temple, monotheistic Jew claiming that the person, Jesus, is God.
  • In other words, as a result of resurrection, we have a Jew speaking in Trinitarian language.
  • We can add this to all the resurrection mutations that must be accounted for by historians.

 

 

2) SEEING AND BELIEVING

 

We mentioned that Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (vs. 29).

  • I want to be sure we understand what Jesus is NOT saying.

 

First, as we stated earlier, the reason we have Christianity and all its Jewish mutations is because the disciples and Paul actually saw the risen Jesus Christ in person.

  • Remember, 1 Corinthians 15 begins with the early Christian resurrection creed that cites the list of eyewitnesses that saw the risen Jesus Christ.
  • So, yes, they believed Jesus was “Kyrios” and “Theos” because they saw Him bodily standing in front of them after He had been crucified and buried.
    • Not discounting, of course, that the Holy Spirit had provided them with new hearts to “hear” and “see” this truth.
  • This physically seeing Jesus is necessary and fundamental to the birth of Christianity.

 

But, seeing the risen Jesus is a one-off event.

  • So what about the rest of us?
  • Our belief is based upon the historical testimony of the eyewitnesses (Thomas, Peter, Paul, etc.) as revealed in Scripture.
    • Not discounting, of course, that the Holy Spirit has regenerated our hearts thereby enabling us to respond with belief to this testimony.

 

So Jesus is not saying that a “seeing” belief, in this case, is not as real as a “non-seeing” belief.

  • And Jesus is not saying that because we haven’t seen, our belief has no object.
  • In other words, He is not saying that our faith is a blind faith.

 

Blind Faith – A Common Mistake:

A blind faith is just wishful thinking.

  • It is, as Greg Koukl says, irrationally hoping that thin ice will support your weight.
  • It is a faith that pretends it can exist when contrary to the facts.
  • This is not the faith Jesus is describing.
  • This is not the faith of the Bible.

 

Too many people think the opposite of faith is knowledge – such as Thomas’ need to see Jesus for himself.

  • They think that this type of belief does not require faith and so it is not as “good”.
  • This is false, false, false.
  • The opposite of faith is unbelief, not knowledge.

 

Can we have more faith?

 

And to speak of having “more” faith makes no sense unless your faith is a blind faith.

  • I fell through the ice because I just didn’t have enough faith that thin ice would hold me up.
  • I just need to have more faith that something that is not true will be true.

 

The NT never speaks of faith in this way (that I could find).

  • You will not find the command to have “more” faith.
  • A Biblical faith is qualitative not quantitative.
  • A Biblical faith is milk or meat not less or more.

 

Biblical Faith – Just the Facts:

A Biblical faith is traditionally described as consisting of knowledge, assent and trust.

  • We can rationally determine that a Biblical claim is legit – we can know it.
  • We can then assent or accept this knowledge in our minds as the truth, and thus authoritative over the pretenders to the truth and over our own lives.
  • And then we can trust in it with full assurance that it will deliver what it says it will.

 

Another way to look at Biblical faith is that “to have an object of our faith” is Biblical faith.

  • And, of course, the object of our faith is Jesus Christ and all the things we can learn about Him.
  • And the quality of our faith is related to the truth of the object of our faith and what we know about this object.
  • So, if the object of our faith is found to be false, our faith is false.
  • Remember, Paul said that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, we need to move on.

 

But a blind faith will continue on in ignorant bliss, completely detached from the truth.

 

A text from John gives us a beautiful picture of Biblical faith.

  • John 2:23–25 (ESV) — 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

 

We need to know here that “entrust” is actually the exact same word translated as “believed” in verse 23.

  • In fact, it is the exact same word used for “believed” in our John 20:29 text.

 

So in this text, Jesus demonstrates a belief/trust (pisteuo) that is firmly based on knowledge, assent and trust.

  • The object of Jesus’ belief/trust would be the “many” who “believed in his name”.
  • However, Jesus knows something of this object.
  • He knows this because He, “knew all people”.
  • And the thing that He knows is “what was in man”.
  • So because Jesus knows something of the object that is problematic, He cannot assent to it.
  • He therefore will not trust in the object – the “many”.
  • No matter how much Jesus may love them, He cannot blindly “entrust himself to them” – or literally, He cannot “believe in them”.

 

Our faith, Biblical faith, is the very same!

 

BTW – Hebrews 11:1 makes clear that our faith is also wrapped up in what will happen, not just what has happened.

  • We can trust in the future promises made by the object of our faith – Jesus!
  • This is related to why Paul connects the resurrection of Jesus with ours.
  • If ours doesn’t happen, then Jesus’ didn’t happen.

 

 

John 20:1-23 – Raised and Appeared

We spent the last eight weeks or so learning about second-Temple Jewish views of resurrection and how, because of Jesus’ resurrection, these views were profoundly modified, and what the modifications were.

  • Last week, we summarized a large number of foundational modifications and suggested that the best and only explanation for them was that Jesus was bodily raised from the dead.
  • In other words, the changes were grounded in the historical event of Jesus’ bodily resurrection, not the hysterical ideas of disillusioned disciples.
  • Today we finally get back into John’s text.

 

In John’s Gospel (and the others as well) Jesus’ resurrection is revealed through two basic events.

  • (1) The first event is the discovery that Jesus’ tomb was empty.
  • (2) The second event is the bodily appearances of Jesus to his followers.

 

 

1) THE EMPTY TOMB

 

John 20:1–10 (ESV) — 1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4 Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes.

 

Last Sunday’s sermon dealt with this text, so we will simply point out one interesting fact.

  • A tantalizing inscription was discovered near Nazareth (probably from Emperor Claudius 41-54 a.d.).

“Ordinance of Caesar. It is my pleasure that graves and tombs remain undisturbed in perpetuity … If any man lay information that another has either demolished them, or has in any other way extracted the buried, or has maliciously transferred them to other places in order to wrong them, or has displaced the sealing or other stones, against such a one I order that a trial be instituted … Let it be absolutely forbidden for any one to disturb them. In case of contravention I desire that the offender be sentenced to capital punishment on charge of violation of sepulture” – N.T. Wright.

 

Whatever else this inscription may teach us, it establishes for us that the reaction of Mary Magdalene and the disciples was spot on.

  • An empty tomb did not mean Jesus was raised from the dead.
  • An empty tomb did not mean Jesus was vindicated.
  • An empty tomb did not mean Jesus was God or Messiah.
  • An empty tomb is of no more value as heaven is to Paul without resurrection (1 Cor. 15).
  • An empty tomb simply meant Jesus’ tomb had probably been robbed.

 

But John does show us that something may not be quite right – the grave clothes were still there.

“The expression ‘folded up’ may actually mean ‘rolled up’, which either points to neatness or indicates that the cloth was still in the exact same position as when Jesus’ body had been wrapped in it, or both” – Kostenberger.

  • In other words, they were not “folded up” as in somebody “folded up” a towel.
  • They were “folded up” as in they still retained the shape of how they were rolled around Jesus’ shoulders, neck and head when originally applied – Boice.

 

This would tell John and Peter two things.

  • (1) The body was not stolen.
  • (2) Something very unusual happened.
    • Jesus’ body passed right through them – N.T. Wright, Boice, Kostenberger, et al.

 

So what, then, does John mean when he says he “saw and believed” (vs. 8).

  • “The evangelist does not specify precisely what ‘the other disciple’ believed” – Kostenberger.
  • But we can say for certain that, “For the ‘disciple Jesus loved,’ the linen strips were sufficient evidence that the body had not simply been moved” – Kostenberger.

 

Most suggest that “saw and believed” refers explicitly to a belief that Jesus was raised from the dead.

  • If that is what it refers to, I am all in.

 

But none of those who advocate this contend with the following:

  •  1) The cause of the action in the text is Mary Magdalene’s proclamation that someone stole Jesus body (vs. 2).
    • So, this is what is “hanging in the air” and waiting to be addressed.
    • So given this context, did John see and believe that Jesus was in fact gone – not stolen, but certainly gone, as Mary had said?
  • 2) Verse 9 states that they didn’t grasp that Jesus must raise from the dead as taught in Scripture.
    • If John didn’t grasp that from Scripture, why would he grasp this from the grave clothes?
    • Nothing in his worldview would have given him the category – strange presence of grave clothes equals bodily resurrection of a dead person.
    • And without knowing the meaning of Scripture (and Jesus’ words) would John even have known what to believe?
  • 3) Mary Magdalene saw the grave clothes (she went into the grave) and she saw angels, but she still thought Jesus’ body had been stolen (vs. 13).
    • Certainly if it is argued that strange presence of grave clothes equals resurrection, it would be hard to suggest that strange presence of grave clothes plus strange presence of angels would not also equal bodily resurrection.
  • 4) The only other time in John where seeing and believing are intimately linked together is in John 2:23-25.
    • There it involves a spurious faith not a legitimate one.
    • And interestingly, it follows the text (vs. 22) that connects the disciples’ ability to understand both Jesus’ words about His resurrection and Scriptures teaching on it to a belief that Jesus rose from the dead.
    • In other words, once they believed Jesus rose from the dead, they understood Jesus’ words and Scripture.
    • However, we are told in John 20:9, that John still didn’t understand the Scripture about Jesus’ resurrection.
    • This would imply, then, that John did not yet understand that Jesus rose from the dead.

 

N.T. Wright says, “The grave-clothes seem to be understood as a sign…”

  • Maybe we should leave it at that.
  • And as with the other signs of Jesus, this one needed some explaining.
  • And in just a few verses we will get our explanation.

 

Final comment on the empty tomb:

“It would have proved nothing; it would have suggested nothing, except the fairly common practice of grave-robbery. It certainly would not have generated the phenomena we have studied in this book so far. Tombs were often robbed in the ancient world, adding to grief both insult and injury. Nobody in the pagan world would have interpreted an empty tomb as implying resurrection; everyone knew such a thing was out of the question. Nobody in the ancient Jewish world would have interpreted it like that either; ‘resurrection’ was not something anyone expected to happen to a single individual while the world went on as normal” – N.T. Wright.

 

But we must keep going!

 

 

2) THE APPEARANCES

 

John 20:11–23 (ESV) — 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. 19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

 

In this text, Peter and John have left and the focus is back on Mary.

  • She has come back to the tomb, sees two angels, and is weeping because somebody has, “taken away my Lord” (vs. 13).
    • Mary still hasn’t grasped that Jesus has risen.

 

And then we witness the first resurrection appearance of Jesus Christ – “she turned around and saw Jesus standing” (vs. 14).

  • But, oddly, she doesn’t recognize Him.
  • He then asks the same question as the angels, “woman why are you weeping” (vs. 15).
  • John tells us that Mary suspects this man of being a thieving gardener (vs. 15).
  • But Jesus speaks her name and at once she recognizes Jesus.
    • My sheep know my voice” – John 10:3.

 

And, given Jesus’ words “do not cling to me” (vs. 17), it appears that Mary ran to Him and grabbed hold of Him.

  • This prompts Jesus to speak of yet another new concept for the second-Temple Jew.
  • The ascension of the risen Messiah to the Father (vs. 17).
  • Jesus, echoing His teaching in John 17, cannot stay – He must leave.
  • So we can add this “mutation” to last week’s list.

 

Jesus asks Mary to go and tell the disciples.

  • Another reason Mary can’t cling – she has to go and proclaim.
  • And with this we have the first Gospel proclamation – “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’ – and that he had said these things to her” (vs. 18).

 

And that evening, John tells us of a second appearance of Jesus Christ.

  • Jesus came and stood among them” (vs. 19).
  • He spoke to them and showed them the remnants of His crucifixion, “his hands and his side” (vs. 20).

 

Jesus then did something very interesting.

  • He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit” (vs. 22).
  • And He then tells them, John 20:23 (ESV) — 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.

 

This actions and words of Jesus within John’s appearance narrative bring us to three things I want to explore.

  • (1) The significance of the appearances in tandem with the empty tomb.
  • (2) The meaning of Jesus breathing on the disciples.
  • (3) This forgiveness business.

 

(1) Appearances and the Empty Tomb.

  • We uncovered a moment ago yet another mutation of second-Temple Judaism that must be accounted for.
  • And as with all the others from last week, N.T. Wright argues that…

 

An empty tomb with no bodily appearances of Jesus will not serve as an explanation.

“Had the tomb been empty, with no other unusual occurrences, no one would have said that Jesus was the Messiah or the lord of the world. No one would have imagined that the kingdom had been inaugurated. No one, in particular, would have developed so quickly and consistently a radical and reshaped version of the Jewish hope for the resurrection of the body. The empty tomb is by itself insufficient to account for the subsequent evidence” – Wright.

 

Likewise, a vision of Jesus while His dead body is still in the tomb will not do either.

  • In the ANE, visions of the dead were not uncommon – Wright.
  • “The ancient world as well as the modern knew the difference between visions and things that happen in the ‘real’ world” – N.T. Wright.
  • And encounters of Jesus as visions, “could not possibly, by themselves, have given rise that Jesus had been raised from the dead…Indeed, such visions meant precisely…that the person was dead, not that they were alive” – Wright.

 

But, both an empty tomb and the bodily appearances were necessary.

“The point of the empty tomb stories always was that Jesus was alive again; the point of the appearance stories always was that the Jesus who was appearing was in bodily continuity with the corpse that had occupied the tomb” – Wright.

  • The claims of Jesus’ disciples make no sense without both.
  • Jesus’ bodily resurrection was an historical event, not a provocative idea.

 

One further comment on this point:

“The early Christians did not invent the empty tomb and the ‘meetings’ or ‘sightings’ of the risen Jesus in order to explain a faith they already had. They developed that faith because of the occurrence, and convergence, of these two phenomena. Nobody was expecting this kind of thing; no kind of conversion-experience would have generated such ideas; nobody would have invented it, no matter how guilty (or how forgiven) they felt, no matter how many hours they pored over the scriptures. To suggest otherwise is to stop doing history and to enter into a fantasy world… In terms of the kind of proof which historians normally accept, the case we have presented, that the tomb-plus-appearances combination is what generated early Christian belief, is as watertight as one is likely to find” – N.T. Wright.

 

(2) Appearances and Breathing.

  • John 20:22 (ESV) — 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on [not breathed into] them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

 

We know from both John 17 and from Acts 2 that this act of Jesus cannot mean that they were indwelled with the Holy Spirit.

  • He had not yet gone to be with the Father (John 17).
  • And this was not Pentecost.

 

So what does this text mean?

 

There are at least two things going on here.

  • 1) “The present reference represents a symbolic promise of the soon-to-be-given gift of the Spirit, not the actual giving of it fifty days later at Pentecost” – Kostenberger.
  • “Jesus’ ‘exhalation’ and command Receive the Holy Spirit are best understood as a kind of acted parable pointing forward to the full enduement still to come” – D.A. Carson.
  • 2) A symbolic link to Genesis 2 and Ezekiel 37.

 

I want to quickly deal with the second.

 

A Link to Genesis and Ezekiel:

  • Genesis 2:7 (ESV) — 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
  • Ezekiel 37:9–10 (ESV) — 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

 

In our John text, he breathed “on” His disciples as a group.

  • In the Genesis text, God breathed “into” the nostrils of an individual, Adam.
    • We know in Adam’s case, the breath was the breath of life.
  • In Ezekiel, the breath is also “into” but it was “into them”.
    • “The prophet calls to the wind to ‘breathe into these slain that they may live,’ after which ‘breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army’” – Beasley-Murray.
  • But what is meant by the breath in our John text?

 

The breath of Jesus, with its allusion to original creation and with what came to represent bodily resurrection in second-Temple Judaism, is a resurrection breath.

  • It is a nod both to the original creation and the promise to restore Israel.
  • But it primarily serves as a symbol of the new creation grounded in resurrection.
  • And the Holy Spirit is relevant because He is power to this new creation and resurrection.

Jesus’ breath, “represents the impartation of life that the Holy Spirit gives in the new age, brought about through Christ’s exaltation in death and resurrection” – Beasley-Murray.

 

N.T. Wright takes it even further.

  • He believes that John, “intends his readers to follow a sequence of seven signs, with the water-into-wine story at Cana as the first and the crucifixion as the seventh” – Wright.
  • And then we come to resurrection.
  • He says John “is careful to tell us twice” that resurrection comes on the first day of the week.
  • This fact, He says, is to make clear that Jesus’ resurrection was the “start of God’s new creation” – N.T. Wright.
  • This means, for Wright, that the cross (“it is finished”), was the completion of the first creation.
  • There was then a Sabbath day of rest, as in Genesis, and then resurrection – new creation.
  • In this context, it is even easier to see Jesus’ breath as symbolic expression of a Spirit-powered new creation.

 

3) Appearances and Forgiveness.

 

John 20:23 (ESV) — 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

  • After Jesus breathed on the disciples and spoke of receiving the Holy Spirit, He makes this interesting comment.

 

Its meaning, obviously, has to be linked to the previous verse specifically, and to resurrection generally, given the context.

  • The first thing we need to notice is that the “you” is a corporate “you” – the disciples.
  • This links up with Ezekiel 37’s corporate context which dealt with the restoration of Israel.
  • We know of course that the twelve represented the twelve tribes of Israel.
  • And we know that the “now and not yet” of resurrection and new creation is now corporately lived out in the context of the Church.
  • The disciples, then, are the transition from Israel to the Church.
  • And so it is within this context that the meaning becomes clear.

 

Jesus’ words are apparently a formal declaration that the religious “gatekeepers” have been replaced.

“Jesus is declaring that his new messianic community, versus the Jewish leadership represented by the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees, is authorized to affirm or deny acceptance into the believing (new) covenant community” – Kostenberger.

  • By their preaching the Gospel, the disciples are now the ones that “affirm” believers or “deny” unbelievers.
  • But NOT based on their whims, will, inclinations or power!!
  • They (we) proclaim the Gospel and those given to Christ believe and are forgiven, and those that aren’t given do not believe and aren’t forgiven.
  • So it is now the Christian who “…can declare that those who genuinely repent and believe the gospel will have their sins forgiven by God. On the other hand, they can warn that those who reject Jesus Christ will die in their sins” – John MacArthur.

 

 

Resurrection and the History of Jewish Hope – Part 3

We have seen how the Jewish view of the afterlife and specifically, bodily life after ‘life after death’, had a trajectory that was historically destined to be completed on Easter Sunday.

  • We saw how a hope for the people and the land was expanded with exile to include a hope for return and restoration.
  • We saw how resurrection became a metaphor for this return and restoration.
  • And ultimately, the hope for return and restoration came to itself contain the idea of a literal resurrection.

 

We saw that resurrection in the O.T. is most vividly seen in Daniel 12:2-3.

  • Daniel 12:2–3 (ESV) — 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
  • Now we need to see how the idea of resurrection exploded during the 2nd Temple period which includes 1st century Palestine.

We will see that, “The evidence suggests that by the time of Jesus…most Jews either believed in some form of resurrection or at least knew that it was standard teaching” – N.T. Wright.

 

Our survey of this period will give us the info we need to explore what Martha was talking about when she talked to Jesus about “the resurrection of the last day” (John 11).

  • The importance of this will become evident when we discuss the significant changes in resurrection that occurred between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

 

 

1)  RESURRECTION IN 2ND TEMPLE JUDAISM

 

We are going to look at just 5 of the many examples N.T. Wright gives of 2nd Temple Judaism’s developing views of resurrection.

  • (1) The Book of 2 Maccabees.
  • (2) The Septuagint
  • (3) The Essenes at Qumran
  • (4) The Sadducees
  • (5) The Pharisees/Rabbis

 

 (1) 2 Maccabees:

This was written during the 2nd century oppression of the Hellenized Syrian, Antiochus Epiphanes.

  • He ruled over Jerusalem for a short time.
  • Apparently, he forged an alliance with Hellenized Jews against those who still centered their lives on temple life and YHWH.
  • As part of his rule he was forcing the traditional Jews to abandon their ways.
  • The books main thrust is the revolt of these traditional Jews under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus.
  • “This book provides far and away the clearest picture of the promise of resurrection anywhere in the period” – N.T. Wright

 

In one particular passage, the story is relayed of seven (7) sons who refused to abandon their ways.

  • They were then tortured and killed with their mother looking on.
  • The words of sons speak plainly of resurrection.
  • 2 Maccabees 7:9 – “You accursed wretch, [said the second brother,] you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws” – N.T. Wright.
  • 2 Maccabees 7:14 – “When he was near death, [the fourth brother] said, ‘One cannot but choose to die at the hands of mortals and to cherish the hope God gives of being raised again by him. But for you there will be no resurrection to life!’” – N.T. Wright.

 

(2) The Septuagint (LXX):

The Septuagint is the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible.

  • It was written in the 3rd century BC (earliest copies we have date to about 4th century AD).
  • Our Old Testaments, by the way, are based on the Hebrew Masoretic texts (from 7th century AD or so).
    • Side Note – dead sea Scrolls confirmed from 2nd century BC confirmed accuracy of MT.

Wright tells us that “as the Bible was translated into Greek the notion of resurrection became, it seems, much clearer, so that many passages which might have been at most ambiguous became clear, and some which seemed to have nothing to do with resurrection might suddenly give a hint, or more than a hint, in that direction” – N.T. Wright.

 

Some Examples of this:

  • Generally, the ambiguous texts we looked at over the past weeks from Hosea and Isaiah, “all use what became the standard ‘resurrection’ language, namely the Greek verbs anistemi and egeiro and their cognates” – N.T. Wright.
  • Hosea 13:14 provides a specific example.
  • “The Hebrew text asks, ‘Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death?’ and expects the answer ‘No’ [in context]. The LXX, however, has turned this into a positive statement: I shall rescue them from the hand of Hades, and I shall redeem them from Death” – N.T. Wright.

 

(3) Essenes at Qumran:

The Essenes spoke of the dry bones of Ezekiel 37 this way:

“I have seen many in Israel, O Lord, who love your name and walk on the paths of justice. When will these things happen? And how will they be rewarded for their loyalty? And YHWH said to me: I will make the children of Israel see and they will know that I am YHWH. And he said, Son of man, prophesy over the bones, and say, May a bone connect with its bone … [the text continues, following Ezekiel 37] … and they will live, and a large crowd of men will rise and bless YHWH of hosts who caused them to live” – N.T. Wright.

  • The original says – “…I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people” – ESV.
  • “Here there seems to be no question: Ezekiel 37 is being seen, not simply as a metaphor for the return from exile, but as a prophecy of actual resurrection. This is, so far as I know, the earliest post-biblical text to take Ezekiel in this way” – N.T. Wright.

 

(4) The Sadducees:

They were the exception to the “most Jews” that came to believe in resurrection.

  •  “Basically, the Sadducees denied resurrection; it seems more than likely that they followed a quite strict interpretation of the Old Testament, and denied any significant future life at all” – N.T. Wright.
  • They held the 1-stage view of death that we discussed a couple of weeks ago.
  • This meant that they did not believe in “an age to come” as the Pharisees – N.T. Wright.
  • Their hope was in the land and the people, and Return and Restoration.
  • This, by the way, made them the conservatives of their day.

 

Josephus also has some insight for us into the Sadducees.

  • “The Sadducees, he says, will have nothing to do with ‘the persistence of the soul after death, penalties in the underworld, and rewards’” – N.T. Wright.
  • “More specifically, ‘the Sadducees hold that the soul perishes along with the body’” – N.T. Wright.

 

(5) Pharisees and Rabbis (their “heirs and successors” post 70 AD):

As we consider the beliefs of the Pharisees, we must be aware that it is from this tradition that Paul’s initial views of resurrection were formed.

  • As N.T. Wright puts it, “That is where Paul started” – JETS, 2011.
  • I don’t think it a coincidence that Jesus chose a Pharisee to articulate the radical changes and implications Easter Sunday brought to bear on resurrection.

 

It goes without saying that the Pharisees embraced the idea of resurrection.

  • “The resurrection is assumed to be the ultimate prize, the reward for a life of holiness and Torah-observance” – N.T. Wright.
  • They believed that resurrection would occur “in the age to come” when all things would be put right – people, land, nation, return, restoration and resurrection.
  • Some, it appears, believed the resurrection would occur only in Jerusalem or the Holy Land.
  • All believed that the God of Israel who had the power to create, give Abraham and Sarah a child, and lead Israel out of Egypt also had the power to resurrect.
  • Resurrection, “will be caused by YHWH’s power and spirit” – N.T. Wright.

 

They, like any resurrection believing Jew, had a 2-stage view of death.

  • They believed in an afterlife (the intermediate state before resurrection), but it wasn’t the major concern and lacked detailed development.
  • “The dead were alive in some intermediate state, place or manner”, is about as specific as we can get – N.T. Wright.
  • There are allusions to souls residing in a “temporary Paradise” or, oddly enough, “being stored away in cupboards” – N.T. Wright.

 

In their liturgical prayer books, there are countless references to resurrection.

  • This example is from Amidah’s “the liturgy for the Day of Atonement” and it reads “‘Thou art also faithful to revive the dead. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who revivest the dead’” – N.T. Wright.

 

The Targums also convey some very specific info about their resurrection beliefs.

  • The Targums are “interpretive renderings” of the OT into Aramaic – Bruce Metzger.
  • N.T. Wright highlights an example of resurrection belief found in the rendering of Hosea 6:2.
  • He says, “the Masoretic text has ‘After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his presence’, the Targum has ‘He will revive us for the days of consolation which are to come; on the day of the resurrection of the dead he will raise us and we shall live in his presence’” – N.T. Wright.

 

And another example is found in how the Targum renders Job 14:12, which in the MT seems to rule out resurrection.

  • Job 14:12 (ESV) — 12 so a man lies down and rises not again; till the heavens are no more he will not awake or be roused out of his sleep.
  • This text “has been altered in the Targum, as in the LXX, so that it only denies the future life of the wicked, leaving the way clear for a resurrection of the righteous” – N.T. Wright.

 

And it was the Pharisees who attempted to answer the questions raised by resurrection (pun intended).

  • There were three main questions addressed in Pharisaic/Rabbi discourse.
  • “How will YHWH accomplish it? What will the body be like (clothed or naked; the same or changed)? and, particularly, which texts in the Bible predict it?” – N.T. Wright.

 

With respect to the 1st question, “…some sort of continuing personal identity, however hard it may be to describe, is necessary if the person being raised at the last day is…to be identical with the person who has died” – N.T. Wright.

  • There are even traditions that say that those who died with deformities will be resurrected with them so that they can be recognized.
    • But then later they will be fully restored.

 

Another question was what of those righteous that died outside of Jerusalem?

  • The apparent theory was that, “the bones of Jews buried outside the Holy Land would roll through underground tunnels in order to arrive there for the resurrection” – N.T. Wright.
  • They even had theories on what happened to the person whose bones had been burned up.
    • The power of God to create bones from clay was often cited.

 

Wright even says that, “there is every reason to suppose that belief in the importance of the bones for future resurrection played a significant part” in changes made to how the guilty were executed.

  • This was because, “The body was important, and its most durable parts, the bones, were to be rescued from destruction” – N.T. Wright.
  • Therefore, for example, “stoning was moderated”; the guilty were sometimes executed by “forcing burning liquid down their throat”; cremation was avoided.

 

And what of the question about which OT texts speak of resurrection.

  • This was “the key question which the Sadducees pressed on the Pharisees (and, it appears, on Jesus)” – N.T. Wright.
  • Specifically, “Can you find resurrection in the Torah itself?” – N.T. Wright.

 

One example of how the Pharisees would answer this question was by citing Deuteronomy 11:9.

  • Deuteronomy 11:9 (ESV) — 9 and that you may live long in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them and to their offspring, a land flowing with milk and honey.
  • Their logic was that “YHWH swore to the patriarchs that he would give the land to them, not merely to their descendants, the oath could only be fulfilled by their being raised from the dead” – N.T. Wright.
  • This is similar to Jesus’ response to the Sadducees criticism of resurrection.
    • He is not God of the dead, but of the living” – Matt. 12:27.

 

NT Picture of Pharisee-Sadducee Polemic:

Acts 23:6–9 (ESV) — 6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Br`others, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” 7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?”

 

As we have seen, Luke confirms for us that the Sadducees believed in neither:

  • (1) Life after ‘life after death’ (resurrection) – “there is no resurrection” (vs. 8)
  • (2) ‘Life after death’ – “nor angel, nor spirit” (vs. 8)
  • The Sadducees believed in angels or spirits, by the way, but not that dead people were angels and spirits.
  • “They did not deny the existence of angels or spirits, but they denied that the dead were in a state that could be so described” – N.T. Wright.

 

And Luke confirms that:

  • the Pharisees acknowledge them all” (vs. 8)

 

But note what else Luke show us.

  • Even though the Pharisees believed in resurrection, ““They do not suppose for a moment that Paul has actually been a witness of the resurrection itself; that is out of the question as far as they are concerned” – N.T. Wright.
  • This is because, as we have seen, resurrection, “will take place at a future date when all the righteous dead are raised to share God’s new world” – N.T. Wright.
  • This is why they suggest that Jesus presented Himself to Paul during the disembodied intermediate state as “a spirit or an angel” (vs. 9).
  • “He may perhaps have had a visitation from someone who, though not yet bodily raised, is presently in the intermediate state between death and resurrection” – N.T. Wright.
  • For them, had Jesus been bodily resurrected, all the righteous Jews from Israel’s history would have also been resurrected and Israel’s glory would have been restored.

 

 

2) THE STATE OF JEWISH RESURRECTION ON GOOD FRIDAY

 

It will help us now to summarize all that we have discussed thus far.

“From several angles at once we are confronted with overwhelming evidence that the small seed of Daniel 12.2-3, and the other Old Testament passages we looked at earlier, had grown into a large shrub” – N.T. Wright.

 

Summary Thus Far – the “Large Shrub”:

The examples we have surveyed clearly express a belief in resurrection.

  • A resurrection that, “means new bodily life, a life which comes after the ‘life after death’ that dead people currently experience” – N.T. Wright.
  • And this resurrection is also “both the personal hope of the righteous individual and the national hope for faithful Israel” – N.T. Wright.
  • And importantly, our examples place resurrection in “…the context of God’s judgment on the wicked and his vindication of the righteous” – N.T. Wright.

 

“Resurrection was not a strange belief added on to the outside of first-century Judaism…resurrection had been woven into the very fabric of first-century Jewish praying, living, hoping and acting” – N.T. Wright.

“They were telling the story of an actual people and an actual land – and an actual god, YHWH, the creator, whose covenant with Israel was so unbreakable, so powerful, that he would act in a new way to restore what had been lost in the exile, namely land, Temple and national life” – Wright.

 

So resurrection in 2nd temple Judaism consisted of at least 10 things:

  • (1) “Personal hope” of bodily resurrection for the individual.
    • For example, 2 Maccabees even spoke of resurrection as the “re-embodiment [of] hands, tongues, entire bodies” – N.T. Wright.
  • (2) Judgment of the wicked.
  • (3) Vindication of the righteous.
  • (4) A result of the power and spirit of YHWH.

 

But Wait, There Is More:

(5) Resurrection and the Age to Come

  • The literal resurrection carried with it the idea, “…as the great event that YHWH would accomplish at the very end of ‘the present age’, the event which would constitute the ‘age to come’” – N.T. Wright.
  • We will see next week that this link between resurrection and the “age to come” was very important to Paul.
    • It is what he referred to when speaking of “eternal life”.

 

(6) Resurrection as Metaphor

  • And yet, along with a literal bodily resurrection, talk of resurrection never lost its meaning as a metaphor for national return and restoration.
  • “The point of the whole story, they would say, was that they would return to their land. If that hadn’t happened, the prophecy remained unfulfilled…” – N.T. Wright.

 

What Resurrection Was Not (or what 2nd Temple Jews didn’t say):

(7) “Nobody imagined that any individuals had already been raised, or would be raised in advance of the great last day” – N.T. Wright.

  • Resurrection was always corporate in scope.

 

(8) “There are no traditions about prophets being raised to new bodily life; the closest we come to that is Elijah, who had gone bodily to heaven and would return to herald the new age” – N.T. Wright.

  • “However important Moses, David, Elijah and the prophets may have been, nobody claimed that they were alive again in the ‘resurrection’ sense. The martyrs were honoured, venerated even; but nobody said they had been raised from the dead” – N.T. Wright.

 

(9) “There are no traditions about a Messiah being raised to life: most Jews of this period hoped for resurrection, many Jews of this period hoped for a Messiah, but nobody put those two hopes together…” – N.T. Wright.

  • Easter Sunday, of course, threw a wrench into this scheme.

 

(10) Because resurrection has not happened, it is not yet the “age to come”.

  • “It is still ‘the present age’” – N.T. Wright.

 

All of these give us the Jewish resurrection background in which Easter Sunday occurred.

  • They give us an idea as to what Martha thought of when she said, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:24).
  • And they tell us, importantly, what Saul the Pharisee believed about the resurrection up until his Damascus road experience.

 

Rabbit Trail – The Issue of Lazarus:

Was his a resurrection?

  • Armed with this information, we can now answer this question.
  • The best description would be to consider it an “extended healing” or “resuscitation, like Jairus’ daughter” not a resurrection – N.T. Wright.

 

Why?

  • Lazarus’ new life was a “starting off again in exactly the same kind of world as at present” – N.T. Wright.
  • The age to come had not dawned.
  • The other righteous Jews had not resurrected.
  • There was no judgment of pagan enemies and vindication of righteous Jews.
  • He will die again.

 

And interestingly John tells us that Lazarus came out of the grave “bound”.

  • John 11:44 (ESV) — 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
  • Furthermore, Lazarus required assistance to be free of his grave clothes.
    • Unbind him, and let him go.
  • The resurrection body in the “age to come” will not be “bound”.
  • Wright suggests that with this language John wants to differentiate this “extended healing” from Jesus’ resurrection.
  • He says, “John intends the reader to see this incident as a signpost, but only a signpost, of what is to come” – N.T. Wright.
  • It is worth mentioning then, that neither Saul nor Paul would have seen Lazarus’ rising as a resurrection in either the literal Jewish sense or Christian sense.

 

Conclusion:

“The world of Judaism had generated, from its rich scriptural origins, a rich variety of beliefs about what happened, and would happen, to the dead. But it was quite unprepared for the new mutation that sprang up, like a totally unexpected plant, within the already well-stocked garden” – N.T. Wright.

 

And, as we have been hinted at over the last few weeks, all these developing threads of resurrection seemed to be converging at just the right time – the Sunday after Passover week within a context of 2nd Temple Judaism.

  • All the categories of resurrection for Easter Sunday to fill and even explode were in place.
  • We will see next time, from Paul, what exactly this “well-stocked garden” of Jesus’ resurrection contained.
  • And, importantly, why Paul’s view of resurrection contains the most practical implications for the Christian life of almost any other doctrine.

 

Resurrection and the History of Jewish Hope – Part 2

Last week we were introduced to the early Jewish view of the afterlife.

  • We learned about their 1-stage view of death, etc.
  • We saw they were concerned primarily with the land and the people.
  • Their hope was not in the afterlife, but in long life, children and the land.
  • And then during exile, the hope expanded to include return and restoration.
  • And it was within the expanding nature of their hope that their view of resurrection blossomed into a 2-stage view of death.

 

1) TWO-STAGE VIEW OF DEATH – THE HOPE BLOSSOMS

 

What is a two-stage view of death?

  • It is “a two-stage expectation (a period of waiting following the martyr’s death, and then bodily resurrection at some future date),” – N.T. Wright.
  • So it wasn’t an expansion or further development on their views of life after death – the afterlife.
    • We saw last week how unsophisticated these views were.
    • The “waiting” was simply being asleep in Sheol, the body having returned to the dust.
    • The pagans’ views, by comparison, were far more developed.
    • But it was the addition to the equation of “bodily life after ‘life after death’” – resurrection.

 

Quick Rabbit Trail:

I want to make a point before we begin.

  • Christians often speak of the Jews of the OT as if they spoke with one voice and were in complete agreement about theological matters.
  • In fact, they were no more homogenous than Protestants or Jews are today.
  • And OT Scripture captures many of these differences for us.

 

So, when we say of a text that “it wasn’t referring to this or that”, or “that the Jews took it to mean this or that”, we are saying two things:

  • (1) We are speaking about how various Jewish traditions interpreted or understood the text.
    • It is, after all, through these folks and their traditions that God choose to work and speak.
  • (2) We are not denying the objective or typological meaning of the text that God Himself intended.
    • God meant exactly what He wanted, even if some of that meaning was not visible until after the resurrection of Jesus.
    • “Typology can be defined as the study of analogical correspondences between persons, events, institutions, and other things within the historical framework of God’s special revelation, which, from a retrospective view, are of a prophetic nature” – G.K. Beale (JETS).
    • We will see several examples of this as we move forward.

 

BTW – It is, in my mind, evidence of God working that on that third day in Jerusalem, all the differing threads of Jewish History pertaining to death, the afterlife and resurrection were gathered together into their final resolution and clarification in Jesus.

  • God knew what He was doing.

 

Let’s move on.

 

Exile – The Fertilizer of the Resurrection Hope:

All of the following passages will leap off the page and scream bodily resurrection to us.

  • However, each passage “is set in the context of the continuing affirmation of the Jewish hope for restoration, for liberation from exile, persecution and suffering – N.T. Wright.
  • So whatever else they meant or came to mean, the foundation of their meaning was the Return and Restoration we spoke of last week.
  • The Jews’ primary concern, as we learned last week, was the Land and its People.
  • It was through them that God’s covenant with Israel was being fulfilled.

 

(1) The most well-known text that seems to speak clearly about bodily resurrection but referred instead to Return and Restoration is Ezekiel’s dry bones text.

  • Ezekiel 37:1–14 (ESV) — 1 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. 11 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

 

Clearly this was originally an exilic text.

  • The concern was Return and Restoration of the people to their land.
  • “Ezekiel is no more envisaging actual bodily resurrection than he envisaged, when writing chapter 34, that Israel consisted of sheep rather than people” – N.T. Wright.
  • And one way we know this is by the disconnect in imagery between verses 1-10 and verses 11-14.
  • Verses 1-10 show the bones of Israel’s exiled people scattered, unburied (presumably unclean), and far from home.
  • But verses 11-14 speak of the people of Israel in a grave and being raised from the grave – back to Israel.
  • Plus, it “lacks the regular language of sleepers walking, of dwellers in the dust, or of the resurrected shining with a new glory” – N.T. Wright.

 

But here is the interesting thing about this passage.

  • It is difficult for us to not see some reference to a literal resurrection.
    • And this is for good reason.
    • And so it was eventually with the Jews.

“The undoubted allegorical character of this passage did not stop it being seen, from at least the early rabbinic period, as a prediction of literal resurrection” – N.T. Wright.

 

(2) Our second text comes from Isaiah’s Suffering Servant passage.

  • Isaiah 53:7–10 (ESV) — 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? 9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

 

Here is another Return and Restoration from exile text that appears to be flirting with resurrection.

  • We see that the servant, the nation of Israel (and later Jesus, of course), was dead.
  • The power of the LORD arrives in verse 10 with “Yet”.
  • And then the servant has prolonged days and is prospering in the will of the LORD.
  • The power of God has Restored and Returned the servant – the nation of Israel.
    • Note the reference to Israel’s ancient hope – “his offspring” and “prolong his days” (vs. 10).
    • And the power of God that Returned and Restored is represented by God’s power over death.

 

However, as with Ezekiel, this text also became to be read as a resurrection text among many Jews.

“Daniel [we will see shortly] provides evidence that some people were already reading Isaiah this way; and so…does the form of the Isaiah text as we have it in Qumran” – N.T. Wright.

  • In other words, when the Qumran community copied their version of Isaiah in Hebrew, they chose to emphasize the resurrection aspect of this text.

 

Important Reminder:

As the Jewish view of resurrection developed on top of its hope for Return and Restoration from exile, we can’t help but to rightly see Jesus come more clearly into view.

  • This is no accident.
  • On to our third text.

 

(3) Our third text also comes from Isaiah.

  • Isaiah 26:19 (ESV) — 19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.
  • Wright says there can be no doubt, even in the original Hebrew, that this text is literally speaking of a bodily resurrection.
  • And as with our previous texts, we know that Qumran and the LXX took it as such.
  • The LXX, the Septuagint, was a Greek translation of the OT made in the 200’s B.C.
  • When they translated texts like this, they deliberately chose cognates of the Greek word for resurrection.

 

However, “It is still possible, of course, that here resurrection is, as we [saw] in Ezekiel, a metaphor for national restoration; but the wider passage, in which God’s renewal of the whole cosmos is in hand, opens the way for us to propose that the reference to resurrection is intended to denote actual concrete events” – N.T. Wright.

 

In other words, the idea of a bodily resurrection became a metaphor for Return and Restoration.

  • And it is likely that the idea of resurrection began to “arise” as this metaphor.
  • But, as we will see in Daniel, blossomed into much more.

 

(4) We will finish with the oldest, and for the Christian, the most tantalizing of the OT Return and Restoration texts.

  • Hosea 13:14 (ESV) — 14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.
  • And then there is this interesting gem.
  • Hosea 6:1–2 (ESV) — 1 “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. 2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.

 

“Hosea offers arguably the oldest passage in OT on resurrection” – Wright.

  • These passages are dated to the 8th Century B.C.
  • And interestingly, while our Ezekiel (and, as we will see, Daniel too) text is Southern Kingdom and younger.
  • These texts, like Isaiah, come from the Northern Kingdom just before it fell to Assyria.
  • So this development of Resurrection finding a home in Return and Restoration texts was happening in two places.
  • And all the threads of resurrection developing within the varied Jewish contexts of time and place were coming together just in time for Jesus.

 

These Hosea exilic texts were (like our other texts) taken in the Inter-Testamental period to have resurrection overtones.

  • The Christian, of course, comes to the first and recognizes Paul’s allusion to the text from 1 Corinthians.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:55 (ESV) — 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
  • Clearly Paul is teaching us that this is a resurrection text.
  • And we certainly can’t help but read the second and be struck by the phrase, “on the third day he will raise us up”.
  • At the time, Hosea was probably referring to a blessing for many that would come “in a little time, after a short delay” – AYBD.
  • But the DJG calls this a “Pre-Christian Antecendent”.
  • Some suggest that Paul alludes to it in 1 Corinthians 5:4 – AYBD.
  • Us normal folk can perhaps be a little more overt – “Jesus in the OT”.

 

Summary thus far:

Speaking of the texts we have looked at thus far, Wright says:

“What we have, in fact, in these passages can best be seen in these terms: hope for bodily resurrection is what sometimes happens when the hope of ancient Israel meets a new challenge, which might include the threat of judgment, as in Hosea and Isaiah 24—7 [by God via the Assyrians], and, more specifically, the fact of exile, as (in different ways) in Ezekiel 37 and Isaiah 53” – N.T. Wright.

  • In other words, God used the reality of exile and invasion to teach the Jew that their hope in just a Return and Restoration was short changing His power over creation.
  • He had, in fact, much bigger plans in store.

 

The Big Pivot:

Now let’s move on to the clearest, fullest and most obvious resurrection text in the OT – Daniel 12:2-3.

  • And Wright suggests, and cites others that argue likewise, that the two Hosea texts and the Isaiah texts we covered were of great influence to Daniel.
    • This, by the way, further reveals that these Return and Resurrection texts came to be seen as Resurrection texts as well.
    • Wright says Daniel 12 is so pivotal that to read it is “to stand on the bridge between the Bible [the OT] and the Judaism of Jesus’ day, looking both backwards and forwards, and watching the passage of ideas that went to and fro between them” – N.T. Wright.

 

The Hope Fully Blossoms – Daniel and Resurrection:

Daniel 12:2–3 (ESV) — 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

“There is little doubt that this refers to concrete, bodily resurrection. The metaphor of ‘sleep’ for death was, as we have seen, already widespread; sleeping in the dust of the earth (literally, ‘the earth of dust’ or ‘the land of dust’) was a clear biblical way of referring to the dead. It was therefore natural to continue the metaphor by using ‘awake’ to denote bodily resurrection — not a different sort of sleep, but its abolition” – N.T. Wright.

 

But interestingly, however, this text speaks only of the resurrection of some.

  • “The passage is not attempting to offer a global theory of the ultimate destination of the whole human race…” – N.T. Wright.

 

Wright calls this passage the crown of all that had gone before.

  • “Any second-Temple Jew who pondered the book would find in 12.2—3 not a new and outlandish idea, unanticipated and unforeseen, but the crown of all that had gone before” – N.T. Wright.
  • In other words, as we have seen, resurrection “fit” the Jewish theology of Return and Restoration.
  • And no passage makes this clearer than Daniel 12:2-3.

 

So this text does not abandon the Return and Restoration ideas of the previous texts.

  • But it firmly places them upon a literal bodily resurrection.
  • And not only does this text clearly speak of a bodily resurrection.
  • But, importantly, it also begins to give it a specific shape.

 

Shape of Resurrection in Daniel 12:

  • (1) It speaks of a glorified risen body.
    • “…Resurrection is not simply a resuscitation in which the dead will return to life much as they knew it before. They will be raised to a state of glory in the world for which the best parallel or comparison is the status of stars, moon and sun within the created order” – N.T. Wright.
  • (2) It speaks of the judgment of pagans and the vindication of martyrs.
    • “Israel’s god will reverse the actions of the wicked pagans, and raise the martyrs, and the teachers who kept Israel on course, to a glorious life. Simultaneously, he will raise their persecutors to a new existence: instead of remaining in the decent obscurity of Sheol or ‘the dust’, they will face perpetual public obloquy [public disgrace]” – N.T. Wright.
  • (3) Resurrection happens to individuals, but it is the individuals of Israel who are raised and vindicated together.
    • In other words, it is corporate in shape.
    • “…this is not something other than God’s long-promised act of vindication for the exiled nation” – Wright.

 

Conclusion – Two-Stage View of Death and Resurrection:

Concerning all the texts we have just covered, N.T. Wright says,

  • They all point to “…the common hope of Israel:”
  • What was the common hope of Israel?

“…that YHWH would restore her fortunes at last, liberate her from pagan dominion, and resettle her in justice and peace, even if it took a great act of new creation to accomplish it. This is where the solid hope of the earlier period (hope for nation, family and land) joins up with the emerging belief in the creator’s faithfulness even beyond the grave” – N.T. Wright.

 

And whatever the Jew thought about resurrection’s relationship to its ancient hope of Return and Restoration,

  • (1) It was not a move away from it but an affirmation of it.
    • The development of resurrection “…is not a move away from the hope which characterized all of ancient Israel, but a reaffirmation of it” – N.T. Wright.
  • (2) Resurrection, in fact, could be seen as fitting metaphor for Return and Restoration.
    • Exile itself is “the strange half-life lived after that death, and return from exile to be seen as life beyond that again, newly embodied life, i.e. resurrection – N.T. Wright.
  • (3) Like Israel’s ancient hope (and unlike the pagans), resurrection was grounded in the goodness of creation, life and the body.
    • The development of resurrection in Israel “…grew directly from the emphasis on the goodness of creation, on YHWH as the god who both kills and makes alive, and on the future of nation and land” – N.T. Wright.

 

And because of the way in which Resurrection depends on Return and Restoration, Wright even suggests that ultimately,

“…the meanings of ‘bodily resurrection for dead humans’ and ‘national restoration for exiled/suffering Israel’ are so closely intertwined that it does not matter that we cannot always tell which is meant, or even if a distinction is possible, in relation to particular passages; that is part of the point” – N.T. Wright.

“The either/or that has tended to drive a wedge between different interpretations of key passages (either ‘individual resurrection’ or ‘national restoration’) must be exposed as fallacious. In Daniel 12, the resurrection of God’s people (at least in the persons of the martyrs, seen as representing the nation) is the form that national restoration takes. This is the real end of the deepest exile of all” – N.T. Wright.

 

Having traced the development of the 1-stage view of death into, through the idea of resurrection, a 2-stage view of death, we can now come to Jesus and Easter Sunday ready to fully fathom what happened.

  • And as we do so we will look at the options available to the Jew at Jesus’ time.
    • From the Sadducees’ denial of resurrection
    • To Martha’s resurrection on the last day.
    • We will deal with this next time.