Jesus’ earthly ministry ends with his ascension to heaven in Luke 24. It’s here that we find an answer to that question.
When Jesus rose from the dead he was at the same time solid flesh and bones, definitely not a ghost, but also able to appear and disappear at will, eventually ascending into heaven. What sort of body did he have?
The apostle Paul spends all of 1 Corinthians 15 working this out, and even after all he writes, it’s still a mystery. In the resurrection, God creates something new, no longer subject to death, out of what has passed away.
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:20–22)
At the end of the book of Revelation, heaven and earth will be joined together. This new creation, this new resurrected body we will receive, will belong in this new world, God’s eternal kingdom.
You understand exactly what Christ’s resurrected body was now, right? Don’t worry, I don’t either, and neither did Jesus’ disciples. So in his final days on earth, Jesus gave us very practical directions on how to proceed.
“‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’” (Luke 24:46–47 NIV)
“‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18–20)
From the time of the Fall in Genesis 3 and the covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12, the Bible has looked forward to a time when God would act to fulfill His covenant promises and would bring the world He created back into the embrace of His saving, healing love. Now, because Jesus has been crucified and resurrected, new creation is here. It is time for all of the world to encounter God’s saving, healing love.
When we think about God’s love and “repentance and forgiveness of sins” we’re usually thinking about me particularly turning from sin and living in God’s wonderful forgiveness. But there is more to this mission of repentance and forgiveness than that. Central to what it means to be a Christian is a focus on the redemption of the world.
We don’t have to look far to see the continuing effects of the Fall (Genesis 3) in our world. As you encounter conflicts in life, remember that as a Christian you live under the effects of Christ’s finished work and dwell in the peace brought through his risen life.
In earthly conflicts, it is impossible to say that one side is entirely responsible for the evil while the other is a completely innocent victim. As followers of Jesus, and members of his body, the Church, we are here to spread the message that the only way forward in any conflict, no matter the scale, is repentance and forgiveness. Only in Christ, through his death and resurrected life, do we find true, eternal peace, redemption, and restoration. May my life and your’s bring that reality into our communities every day.
What kind of changes can repentance and forgiveness lead to, both personally and nationally?
How are you and the body of Christ in your community participating in the mission Jesus has given to us?
“I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:50–58 NIV)