In the Train of the Risen

The great New Testament theologian C.H. Dodd once noted that all the resurrection accounts included several features. In each Jesus greeted His followers with ‘Peace,’ ‘Shalom,’ as a result of which any doubts about his identity vanished. Then He sent them on a mission to all the nations of the earth. Both had to do with the Kingdom which had just dawned: the Prince of Peace had come and now He would gather the nations in His victorious train (see especially Daniel 7). What are the implications of these consistent themes? As we shall see, the first is personal and the second corporate.

We know the peace that comes into our hearts because on the ‘Yes’ spoken to us in Him. This experience is integral to our conversion, however it took place in each of us. But it is an experience of something deeper than the experiential. Look in John 20 about the assurance of the proclamation of the loosing of sins. This is given us come what may, and so we are reassured of it should be ‘feel it’ or not. (Martin Luther’s witness here makes this clear). This is peace as the world cannot give, since it is built on the ‘finished work’ of Christ confirmed in the resurrection.

Secondly, the mission to the Gentiles was a sign of the dawning of the Kingdom. (Compare Matthew 28 with Isaiah 2). So mission is not an optional programmatic activity but constitutive of living in the time and the train of the Risen. It is ‘baked in,’ which is what the popular phrase of a generation ago, ‘the mission of God,’ meant to say. The resurrection gives shape to our common life, though we sometimes fall asleep and need preaching to awaken us. May it be so this Eastertide.



Complete the Race (II Timothy 4:17)

At the end of our vacation we find ourselves in Chicago for its Marathon weekend (the fastest, I have read this morning, perhaps because it is cool and relatively level). Marathons offer many good things. You can see world-class athletes from places like Ethiopia and Kenya. There is a feel of fiesta with signs by family members, getups by some for-fun runners, and food for sale.

But as I looked out my hotel window at 7:30 a.m., I watched the race of competitors who have lost legs or their use. Wheeling vehicles by arm for 26 miles means serious fitness and determination.

Those competitors were to me, this morning, a symbol of the Church too. For each is wounded. The larger family cheers them on. Each by grace has risen up to run the race. Ahead is the goal, the prize, the welcome home. We find the companionship of Jesus the Lord, there, and along the route too.