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Sunday, April 23, 2006 

Et Resurrexit: Initial Implications Part 3


If the early church, subsequent to their belief that Jesus’ resurrection meant the beginning of the eschaton, had come to see that same resurrection as a validation of Jesus’ Messiahship then there would have been at least one more conclusion those followers would have reached. The resurrection would further be understood as the decisive event in which Jesus becomes the Kyrios, i.e., the Lord. As with Messiahship, by itself the resurrection would not denote Lordship per say. But when we combine the initial insights discussed in the previous posts, Jesus’ resurrection as the beginning of the end and the confirmation and vindication of his Messiahship, it only makes sense that an understanding of Jesus as Lord would follow. If Jesus was indeed the King of the Jews he was also now the Lord, of not just Judea or of Israel in general but of the entire cosmos. (see Wright, "Resurrection of the Son of God", p .563-66.)

This concept that the Messiah would be the ruler of the whole earth is firmly rooted in Jewish belief, especially in the Psalms:

I will tell of the decree of Yahweh: He said to me, "You are my son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel." (Ps 2:7-9)

"Give the king thy justice, O God, and thy righteousness to the royal son . . . May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth! May his foes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust! May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute, may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!" (Ps 72:1; 8-11)

"I have found David my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him . . . He shall cry to me, You are my father, my god and the rock of my salvation; And I will make him my firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth." (Ps 89:20, 25-27)

And also in Isaiah:

"And now Yahweh says, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered in him, for I am honored in the eyes of Yahweh, and my God has become my strength-he says: "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." (Is 49:5-6)

Though each of these passages places a distinctive emphasis on how God’s anointed one will treat the nations of the earth (whether harshly, mercifully, favorably, etc.) each affirms that the Messiah’s function as Yahweh’s anointed one was to represent His kingdom and rule over all the ends of the earth.

For further evidence of this connection between Jesus’ Lordship, Messiahship, and resurrection there is Acts 2. Peter in the same speech in which he asserts the resurrection of Jesus as a validation of his Messiahship also asserts that Jesus is Kyrios, by virtue of his resurrection:

"This Jesus god raised up, and of that we are witnesses...Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified." Acts 2:32, 36

But we can penetrate back even further than the book of Acts for a connection between Jesus' lordship and his resurrection from the dead. There is an important passage that is generally acknowledged by scholars as containing an early baptismal creed formulated by the earliest church, namely, Rom 10:9. Here we find the most basic form of Christian proclamation: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved." What this creed exhibits is that there exists a symbiotic relationship between confession of Jesus as Lord and the belief that God raised him from the dead. Indeed, you cannot have one without the other. The confession of Lordship and the inward belief of resurrection are integral to one another. The early believers could proclaim that "Jesus is Lord" precisely because "God had raised him from the dead."

In conclusion, the twin beliefs that Jesus' resurrection meant the beginning of the eschaton and the validation of his Messiahship ultimately gave birth to the notion that Jesus was now Lord. In the next post I will conclude with a brief discussion concerning why these initial implication were and are so important for us, who are decidedly removed some 2,000 years from these events, today.

What do you make of Mark 6 and Herod Antipas thinking John the Baptist was 'raised from the dead' in Jesus. It seems to have no eschatological significance and could be interpreted as entirely spiritual.

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