The beginning of the end (when the end is actually a new beginning)
God is going to redeem the whole universe.
Jesus’ resurrection is just the start.
A time is coming when heaven and earth will be joined together at last. The resurrection of Jesus is a glimpse of what that will look like.
Jesus is with us in many ways at the moment but then, he will actually be fully with us in body as well as in spirit. When we see him face to face, we will come to know him fully in a way that is not possible right now.
That all seems pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? There are however plenty of passages in the New Testament, particularly in Paul’s letters, that go into more detail than that and can cause confusion. Paul speaks in metaphors that the people of his day would understand from the context in which they are living. When we try to set these images in stone, we create a narrative that is not the exact truth.
This is how Tom Wright explains it in Surprised by Hope –
Jesus will be personally present, the dead will be raised, and the living Christians will be transformed. Tom Wright, page 146
And Tom Wright is clear about this too – there will be a judgement where God will set the world right once and for all. This judgement is a good thing, something to celebrate. It will confront systemic injustice and evil head on. Everyone will be brought to account for what they have done.
Justice will sweep the world. The present world will be transformed into a new creation.
As will we.