Minister’s Letter, April 2013

Dear Friends,

Last month I wrote to you about the Cross and this month I want to say something about Christ’s resurrection. We need to have the courage to gaze at the Cross in all it’s ugly cruelty, in order to understand it. God is doing something deep, unfathomable, mysterious and hugely significant at Calvary. It confronts our own sin that took him there. On Easter Day Jesus confronts his disciples with the resurrection. Jesus takes the resurrection to Upper Room. The woman who went to the tomb to embalm Jesus’ body delivered the news that Jesus had risen and then the resurrected Christ appears to them there.

Why does Jesus appear before them? The disciples thoughts are firmly stuck in the events of the past and in particular what had happened over past days. They would have played back in their own minds Jesus’ crucifixion time and time again. Peter is caught up with his own sense of shame and regret; Jesus had warned him about his denial before it happened. Not one of the disciples can conceive what life will be like without their Lord and master. However the resurrection is all about their future. Jesus appears before them to bring home the glorious reality of what his Heavenly Father has done. God has raised him from the dead, he has a new resurrection body which bore the wounds of the Cross yet could appear in a locked room. The resurrected Christ confronts the doubt and unbelief of Thomas with the challenge to put his hands and fingers on Jesus wounds (John 20:27). He comes to them in the Upper Room to dispel doubt and unbelief and replace it with assurance and trust in the power of God.

What did the resurrected Jesus want for his disciples (the remaining apostles and other believers)? For a start he wanted to dispel their feelings of failure. For the disciples everything unravelled for them on Good Friday, and in the events that preceded Jesus’ execution. Some of them could have gone back to the fishing. When Jesus met them on the shore of the lake, they had fished all night and had empty nets to show for it. They were failures at the one thing they were supposed to be good at. Yet Jesus spares them from that, with nets full-to- bursting, he renews their confidence, not in themselves, but in him. Next, Jesus is calling them to partnership with him. Jesus recalibrates his relationship with Peter as they walk together on the shore of the lake. Jesus has already identified Peter as the ‘rock on which he will build his church’ (Matt 16:18). Peter, led by the Spirit, will proclaim the gospel of Christ and lead people to it. Yet Peter’s invitation to partnership is extended to all of the believers through the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20).

What does the resurrection mean for Christians today? The resurrection is the supreme source of Christian hope in the here and now and in the future. Jesus’ work on the Cross is made complete by his resurrection. The Cross restores us from sin through God’s supreme act of forgiveness and the resurrection is the ultimate sign of God’s restorative work. Jesus’ resurrection body completely surpasses the body that was nailed and abused on Good Friday. His resurrection body is the prototype of what we will receive from God when we are raised in Christ. We will be made fit for the fullness of the kingdom of heaven when it comes. It is the hope of resurrection beyond the grave and all the other blessings of his kingdom that spurs us on in our discipleship in Christ in this life.

Your minister and friend