I sat at the oak desk answering questions that could take me to China. I breezed through the final query: Explain the gospel to me. Twenty years of Sunday school, church camps, and Christian college rushed to answer. After I finished, she said, “You explained forgiveness really well, but what about the resurrection and ascension?”
After my embarrassment drained off–I was the kid with the all right answer in Sunday School–I resolved to never forget the resurrection again. But when I thought about the gospel, it still seemed that all the action–forgiveness, substitution, promise of eternal life–really happened at the cross.
More than a decade passed before I realized how often Christians talk about eternal life without ever mentioning bodily resurrection. Or how we look to Good Friday as the day that changed history, rather than the following Sunday. Not that we ever stopped believing in the resurrection, we just sort of left it in the shadows. The cross took center stage in God’s solution to the problem of evil.
But resurrection burns at the heart of the gospel. The metatarsal bones that Jesus stood on as he talked to Mary in the garden. The twitching biceps as he extended his wrists toward Thomas. The esophagus peristalsing fish down to his stomach by the Sea of Galilee. His brown skin rising into the clouds. All of these broadcast something new about God and his plans for creation. The resurrection expands the gospel beyond what the cross has to offer Continue Reading…