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Friday, April 03, 2015

Jesus & the Resurrection of the Body

A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
 Matthew‬ ‭16‬:‭4‬ 



It has been said many times that 'it's all about Jesus'; it might just as well be said ( speaking of Scripture, or the Bible ); 'it's all about Israel'! Truly, it is all about Israel, for Israel is called the Son of God ( Hoseah 11:1 ) for indeed, Matthew equates the two in his record of the Gospel! The Resurrection of Jesus, then, in fact, the Resurrection that Jesus was ( John 11:26 ), signaled the Resurrection of Israel, She who was dead in her trespasses & sins, according to Scripture ( Isaiah 59:2 )!

This is the Season in which we, as Orthodox Christians, have traditionally celebrated the events surround the crucifixion, death, burial & resurrection of Israel's Messiah! Some call it Holy Week, in which they observe Lenten practices like fastidiously observing the days of the Holy Week such as Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, on which a special 'Lord's Supper' is observed & Good Friday, wrapping up with Easter Sunday, called Resurrection Day by others in an attempt to get away from the Eastern roots & etymology of Easter! Those who simply call it Resurrection Day often forgo all the Holy Week rigamarole & simply celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, not as the Messiah of Isrsael necessarily, but as the Messiah of the World!

Without the understanding that Jesus was, first & foremost the Messiah of Israel, the Story that Scripture reveals makes less sense than it should & tends to lead many to a mistaken view of the universal purposes of salvation! This misunderstanding leads many to believe that Jesus was simply the Sacrifice for those who chose to accept Him, rather than fulfilling a definite purpose, as described by the prophet Isaiah when he quoted God as saying, 'So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.' ( Isaiah 55:9 )

The purpose for which Jesus was revealed as the Son of God & the Messiah of Israel was to redeem that which the Story of Israel described as having been lost, fellowship & communion with the Divine! Israel, from the beginning ( Ezekiel 16 ) had enjoyed the privilege of being the object of the Creator's affection & the recipient of the blessings of the Covenant! Through Her adultery & idolatry, She had become separated from the Divine & was as good as dead, sleeping in the grave of Her Exile! Her Redemption was the object of the Desire of All Nations ( Genesis 12:1-3 ) & that Desire was realized in the Messiah of Israel, Jesus the True & Only Begotten Son of God!

Many who celebrate this Season of Resurrection are ignorant of the Story of Israel, whether willfully or otherwise & longingly look forward to the resurrection of their individual bodies! They believe that Jesus' resurrection, bodily in nature as it was, signals their own ( biological ) resurrection! This could not be further from the truth, however, for the Resurrection of the Messiah of Israel simply signaled the Resurrection of The Body of Israel, which indeed had a universal ring to it, although not a biological one!

It is indeed all about Jesus! As the Messiah of Israel & the One who would redeem Her from the death of Her Exile, Jesus was revealed as the Promised One who would awaken Her from the sleep of death, the same death that Jonah had prophetically suffered during his own period of exile in the belly of the fish ( Jonah 2:1-9 )! It was never about individual, biological bodies being raised, although such resurrections did occur from time to time as signs for those who had been blinded by the God of that age; it was always & only about the Resurrection of the Body of Israel, the Apple of God's Eye! 

During, not just this Season, but all year long, let us live our lives in the realization & celebration of this Glorious Truth, the Truth of the Resurrection of Israel! With that realization, we understand that the Resurrection is fulfilled in us who are, as the apostle Paul wrote, 'the Israel of God' ( Galatians 6:16 ) & 'the Body of Christ' ( I Corinthians 12:27 ). We, the Church, are ( in ) the Resurrection of Israel, not the sense of replacement, but in Fulfillment of the Promise made to Her in the Beginning!

Charles Haddon Shank

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