Resurrection as Injustice Undone, Part 2

Resurrection as Injustice Undone, Part 2 April 10, 2024


As we continue to think of resurrection as injustice undone, consider the emphasis in our reading: “The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.” The point is not that Jesus would suffer and accomplish something through that suffering. No, it’s that though he would suffer, God would triumph over that suffering and bring him back to life. This is Easter’s good news. Hate, injustice, bigotry, power and privilege don’t have to have the last word in our stories. Justice and love can!

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(Read this series from its beginning here.)

The book of Acts, which continues Luke, always defines Jesus’ resurrection as the good news, not his dying:

“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.” (Acts 4:33, emphasis added)

The message was not one of death and dying, but of life and resurrection:

Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. (Acts 2:22-24)

Their God had reversed Jesus’ death!

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. (Acts 2:32-33)

When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. (Acts 3:12-16)

Historically, Christians have used these passages in antisemitic ways to harm our Jewish friends and neighbors. But Peter, who is speaking in Acts 2 and 3, is also a Jew, and the Jewish people did not crucify Jesus. In Luke’s gospel, the Jewish people loved Jesus. It was the elites who had everything to lose if their society took on the shape described in Jesus’ sermon on the mount or Luke’s sermon on the plain, and it was the elites who sought to use Rome’s strong arm to silence Jesus. This was not a religious conflict but a political one. It was not a matter of Christians versus Jews as antisemitic Christians have made it out to be. It was a conflict where the rich and powerful tried to stop Jesus (Luke 6:24) and God stepped in and undid their attempt.

Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ (Acts 4:10-11)

The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him from a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” (Acts 5:30-32)

You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.) We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. (Acts 10:36-43)

So it is also stated elsewhere: ‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’ Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. (Acts 13:35-38)

And lastly,

“We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. (Acts 13:32-33)

These passages leave us with one more thing to consider regarding the resurrection. We’ll take a look at that, next.

(Read Part 3)


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About Herb Montgomery
Herb Montgomery, director of Renewed Heart Ministries, is an author and adult religious re-educator helping Christians explore the intersection of their faith with love, compassion, action, and societal justice. You can read more about the author here.

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