We just celebrated Easter and the resurrection of Jesus but do we really understand what the resurrection means? It has become to think of resurrection as “life after death” but this isn’t Biblically what resurrection means. It’s so much more than that
In Colossians 1:15-20 we have this great hymn, or creed, that describes Jesus and his work. The first half, verses 15-17, describes Christ’s work and role in creation. He is the “Firstborn over all creation”(V15). This doesn’t mean that Christ was the first created being, that’s not what firstborn language mean, just look at the next verse. What it means is that Christ is distinguished from creation, that he is supreme over all creation. As Paul continues in the poem we find that all of creation is held together in Christ. He is the creator, source, and sustainer of all things.
Unfortunately, after the fall, the unity that was there became broken. Our role as the image bearers of God became jarred and distorted. Things were not the way they were supposed to be.
But then Jesus, and Easter came. On Easter day, Jesus became the firstborn of the dead, as Colossians 1:18 tells us. But what does this mean?
Resurrection is not some bodiless experience where we float around. When the women and the disciples came to the tomb it was empty, there was no body. Resurrection is a bodily resurrection. It the raising up and transformation of the body into a new and glorious body. It is similar to the previous body, people could still recognize Jesus in his body, but it is also new. Jesus was no longer confined to one place, he could appear to the disciples in different places. He could now enter into rooms that were locked. This was a new and glorious body, but a body nonetheless.
This is important because Jesus is the first of what is to come. He is our hope that what has happened to him will happen to the rest of us. He is the “Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”(1 Cor 15:20). This is the beginning of the new creation and it is so much bigger than just us. Not only will our bodies, like Jesus’, become new and transformed, but the earth will also become new and transformed. And not only will the earth become new and transformed but the heavens will as well (Rev 21:1). All things will become new and all will come together in a glorious unity in Christ. Just as all of the original creation was bound together in Christ, so now this new and glorious creation, the heavens and the earth and all creation, will come together in glorious reconciliation in Christ. This is the grand hope that has come to us because Jesus is alive. He has risen indeed!