God does something new

When Jesus rose from the dead, His resurrection was the first phase of God’s new creation, a new kind of existence—a human body was transformed by the power of God into one that is no longer affected by death, decay, and corruption. Nothing like this had ever happened! “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him.”1

Jesus’ resurrected body no longer suffered from the torture He had undergone—His back torn to shreds from the whipping; His head bloodied by the crown of thorns; His hands, feet, and side pierced. He was no longer battered, nor was He exhausted from all He had endured.

His risen body wasn’t a spirit; it was physical, which His followers could touch. He taught them,2 walked with them,3 cooked for them,4 and ate with them.5 He was once together with 500 of them at one time.6 After 40 days,7 He ascended into heaven,8 where He sits at the right hand of God.9

As Christians, we too are part of God’s new creation. We can look forward to the time when Jesus will return and raise our bodies as well.10 The apostle Paul speaks about our bodies raised from death in terms of a seed that is planted, and from which the more complete plant grows.11 He goes on to explain that these new bodies will be imperishable, raised in glory and power as spiritual bodies.12

Being imperishable means our bodies will not have the weaknesses they have now. They won’t be affected by aging, sickness, or weariness as they are today. As one author wrote, “In these resurrection bodies we will clearly see humanity as God intended it to be.”13

When a person receives Jesus as their Savior, God’s Spirit comes to dwell within them and they are renewed and regenerated. Renewal is a renovation, a change in the believer for the better. Regeneration is the production of a new life consecrated to God, a radical change of mind. “When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”14

As part of the new creation, God’s Spirit changes us, helping us to put on the mind of Christ, as we develop and reflect some of God’s characteristics by growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.15

And that’s why we have so much to celebrate!—That God dwells in us and helps, guides, and renews us; that we are part of His new creation; that we will live eternally in our new bodies, with perfect health and no aging, sickness, or disease. This is the good news of the Gospel: the love that God has for each individual, the offer of everlasting life, of resurrection from the dead, of being a new creature in Christ Jesus today and a part of the overall new creation for eternity.

May we be motivated by the beauty of God’s gift through Jesus to share it and its blessings with all we can.

* * *

There are two ways to look at human history, I have concluded. One way is to focus on the wars and violence, the squalor, the pain and tragedy and death. From such a point of view, Easter seems a fairy-tale exception, a stunning contradiction in the name of God. That gives some solace, although I confess that when my friends died, grief was so overpowering that any hope in an after-life seemed somehow thin and insubstantial. There is another way to look at the world. If I take Easter as the starting point, the one incontrovertible fact about how God treats those whom he loves, then human history becomes the contradiction and Easter a preview of ultimate reality. Hope then flows like lava beneath the crust of daily life.

This, perhaps, describes the change in the disciples’ perspective as they sat in locked rooms discussing the incomprehensible events of Easter Sunday. In one sense nothing had changed: Rome still occupied Palestine, religious authorities still had a bounty on their heads, death and evil still reigned outside. Gradually, however, the shock of recognition gave way to a long slow undertow of joy. If God could do that

—Phillip Yancey16 (b. 1949)

  1. Romans 6:9 ESV
  2. See Luke 24:27.
  3. See Luke 24:13–15.
  4. See John 21:9–13.
  5. See Luke 24:41–43.
  6. See 1 Corinthians 15:6.
  7. See Acts 1:3.
  8. See Acts 1:9–11.
  9. See Mark 16:19.
  10. See 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17; 1 Corinthians 15:51–52.
  11. See 1 Corinthians 15:35–38.
  12. See 1 Corinthians 15:42–44,49.
  13. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 832.
  14. Titus 3:4–5 NLT
  15. See Galatians 5:22–23.
  16. The Jesus I Never Knew (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995)