IVP - Andy Unedited - New Testament Archives

February 28, 2018

Why Resurrection Matters (Mark 12:18-27)

Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. . . . Jesus replied . . . "Now about the dead rising--have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!" (Mark 12:18, 24, 26-27)

Many Christians think that the spiritual is more important than the physical--that prayer, evangelism, worship, giving to Christian causes, and encountering God matter more than caring for our physical selves or for the created world. Doing church work, we may think, is more important than our job as an accountant, store clerk, salesperson, or truck driver. Reading the Bible, we might think, is more important than other reading we can do to learn about the world and people that God created.

Part Truck.jpgof the reason for this is due to the misimpression we have about what happens after we die. Many think we will live forever as spiritual beings in heaven. This notion is perpetuated by many hymns about flying away from our physical existence and going to Gloryland. But that is not actually what the Bible teaches. The concept held by the Pharisees and others, and affirmed by Jesus in contrast to the Sadducees, was that our final destiny involves living in a transformed physical existence on a new earth (Isa 66:22)

Jesus, we believe as Christians, was raised bodily. His physical body was gone from the tomb. He has a resurrected body that is somewhere else. He didn't turn into a merely spiritual being after his death, like a ghost. If his body didn't rise, then he didn't actually conquer death. But if his body did rise, then we also can participate in this victory with our raised physical bodies. As the Easter hymn affirms, "Made like him, like him we rise." Similarly Paul says, "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Co 15:20). We will have transformed bodies like him.

"But," Paul goes on to say, "someone will ask, 'How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?' " (1 Corinthians 15:35). It will be physical, but not exactly like our bodies now which die and decay. Rather they will be some new type of physical body, much like Jesus's resurrection body that lives forever (1 Corinthians 15:42; Philippians 3:21). That is how death is conquered. We will have bodies that won't die. The difference will be like the difference between a seed buried in the ground and the plant that rises from it (1 Corinthians 15:36-38).

What this means is that our physical bodies matter. What we do with them matters. What we do with, and in, God's physical creation matters. Everything matters--gardening, education, play, health, sharing meals, prison conditions, poetry, real estate deals, laughter, stamp collecting, basketball, paintings. These are all worthy matters for our time and effort, for they will go with us into the new heaven and new earth.

AsMark Through Old Testament Eyes.jpg the Irish poet Evangeline Paterson wrote, "I was brought up in a Christian environment where, because God had to be given pre-eminence, nothing else was allowed to be important. I have broken through to the position that because God exists, everything has significance."

In the New Earth, somehow, everything we do here, whether completely successful or not, whether temporary or lasting, will also be transformed and join us in our resurrected lives. When we are tempted to wonder if it really matters what we are doing here on this planet for a few short decades--to wonder whether our work has any lasting value--we can remember that because of Christ, the seed of our life and all we do will become a glorious tree.

Each Wednesday until Easter I am posting a Lenten reflection, excerpted and adapted from Mark Through Old Testament Eyes. Used by permission of the publisher.

photo credit: 4givin, pixabay.com

Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:03 AM | Comments

February 14, 2018

The King Rides a Colt (Mark 11)

Each Wednesday until Easter I am posting a Lenten reflection, excerpted and adapted from Mark Through Old Testament Eyes.

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here." . . . When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. (Mark 11:1-2, 7-8)

Why does Jesus specify a colt, and one that no one has ridden before? Animals without defect, or which had never been worked before, were considered holy--necessary for worship and sacrifices (Lev 22:19-25; Num 19:2-3; Deut 21:1-9). Animals which had never worked before were specified to pull one of Israel's holiest objects, the ark of the covenant, after it had been taken by the Philistines (1 Sam 6:1-9).

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:02 AM | Comments

November 2, 2017

From Africa for the World

Why would a old, white, North American, evangelical male be interested in the Africa Study Bible? I'll get to that in a minute. First, a bit of introduction to this remarkable volume.

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:06 AM | Comments

May 31, 2017

Paul's New Perspective

Those who walk down the middle of the road, it is said, are likely to get run over by both sides. That is where Garwood Anderson has chosen to daringly place himself in his Paul's New Perspective. In the current debate on justification between those who hold to the Traditional Protestant Perspective (TPP) and the New Perspective on Paul (NPP), Anderson charts a third way.

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:46 AM | Comments

January 17, 2017

Widows and Orphans

I have lived with the New Testament letter of James for many decades. And I frequently puzzled over one aspect of a particular verse: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (Jas 1:27) Why widows and orphans? Why not people who are hungry or ill or grieving? Is there something special about orphans and widows that should take our attention?

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 9:53 AM | Comments

May 24, 2016

Kenneth E. Bailey, 1930--2016

In the 1970s a friend gave me a copy of Kenneth Bailey's The Cross and the Prodigal. I was blown away. It transformed my understanding of how to read the New Testament. Later I devoured Poet and Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes. Bailey's basic thesis was that Middle Eastern peasant culture changes only very slowly. So if we want to understand the world that Jesus lived in, we should get to know Middle Eastern peasant culture today.

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 11:37 AM | Comments (1) are closed

March 23, 2016

Enjoy a Week in the First Century

Want a quick, entertaining way to get a solid feel for what it was like to be in Roman-occupied Palestine? That's what Gary Burge offers in A Week in the Life of a Roman Centurion. In this window into the world of the first century, we look through the eyes of Appius, a tough-minded, pragmatic Centurion. The story is enriched as we get to know his household, his familia. Livia, his companion, knows the power of her allure. Tullus is a captured slave with skill as a scribe who rises to a place of trust. Gaius is the manager of Appius's affairs, organized and completely loyal to his lord.

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Posted by Andy Le Peau at 10:04 AM

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