What does the resurrection mean? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I don’t post on Easter or do Facebook, so on that Sunday, I don’t contribute, but now that it’s done, I do want to say something about the resurrection that I said to a small group recently. As I thought about this, Acts 17 actually has well what I am wanting to say. You see, we often think that resurrection means we’re all able to be forgiven of our sins. Now I don’t deny this. Forgiveness is good and it’s important and we should celebrate it. To say that’s all it is though is like saying all that a college degree is about is getting to have a good job or all that getting married about is getting to have sex. Those are good and important things, but there is much more involved.
When we get to Acts 17, we see this taking place.
22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Something to consider is that sins are never mentioned here. Ignorance is mentioned, but not sins. Is repentance mentioned? Yes. Repentance often has an overtone of forgiveness, but it can also be used of just changing one’s mind. Consider how it is used in the autobiography of Josephus.
I perceived … that there was a great many very much elevated in hopes of
a revolt … I therefore endeavoured to put a stop to these tumultuous
persons, and persuaded them to change their minds … [I] desired them
not … to bring on the dangers of the most terrible mischiefs upon their
country, upon their families and upon themselves.
[I told Jesus] that I was not ignorant of the plot which he had contrived
against me …; I would, nevertheless, condone his actions if he would
show repentance and prove his loyalty to me. All this he promised …
For more on this, please go here.
So what could we say the message is?
We could say the message is in the past you have been ignorant, but no longer. The great wrong here is idolatry. God let you go, but now He has truly spoken in a way that is unavoidable and He has shown that He will judge the world by the man He raised from the dead. Do note that. It is not that because Jesus has been raised, you are forgiven. It is that because Jesus has been raised, judgment is coming. Jesus is the king of this world and this resurrection is meant to be a public demonstration to the whole world that Jesus is indeed King. This is something I think we miss quite often. Jesus is the King. He’s not just a savior, although He certainly is. He is our Lord and Master and we are to live our lives in service for Him. The question is not “What is Jesus doing in your life?” The question is “What are you doing in His?”
Celebrate forgiveness and be thankful for it, but don’t stop there. You were forgiven not so you could receive a blessing for God, but that you could extend His blessing by serving others.