“Resurrection and the Renewal of Creation”
What does Jesus’ resurrection mean to you? Does the gospel promise to snatch us away from the world or to renew us and all the world, too? How does the Holy Spirit put the resurrection of Jesus into practical effect in us and through us right now? For many Christians, “resurrection” is simply “what we say happened to Jesus after his death,” or perhaps “a strange word for our own future hope.” But few realize what “resurrection” meant in the first-century world where early Christianity was born. It meant nothing short of “new creation” — the reaffirmation, by the creator God, of the goodness of the original creation, starting with the crucified body of Jesus Himself. Once we grasp this, we see that many lines of thought in the New Testament, particularly in John and Paul, point not just to the resurrection of Jesus’ people, but to the restoration of the whole creation. This restoration has already begun, and part of what the Holy Spirit is doing in the present time, through the work of Jesus’ followers, is to bring about signs and real anticipations of the ultimate new creation. This will happen when (as in Philippians 3:21 or 1 Corinthians 15:28) Jesus subjects all things to Himself and God becomes “all in all.” Christianity’s central event turns out to be even more important and relevant than many people imagine.
N. T. Wright is Professor of New Testament & Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.