The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life reach their climax in his death and resurrection, but what do these central gospel events teach us about the relationship of heaven and earth?
At the start of chapter 7, I talk about Tolkien’s idea of eucatastrophe – that happy turn in a story where at just the moment evil appears to have won, it has in fact lost, and there is after all a happy ending.
Matthew records that at the very moment Jesus died the temple curtain was torn in two (Matthew 27:51).
Here is Luke’s account of Jesus first resurrection appearance to his disciples gathered together (Luke 24:36-43).
“While they were still talking, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet and while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate it in their presence. He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’”
Look at this painting by the Italian artist Caravaggio, painted in 1603.
It depicts a later moment in John’s gospel (John 20:24-28), where the apostle Thomas, who had earlier doubted Jesus’ bodily resurrection, is asked by Jesus to ‘…reach out your hand and put it into my side’.
C.S. Lewis uses the phrase ‘death working backwards’ to describe the effects of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and on p.97 I write that through the cross and resurrection a ‘… new week of creation has begun.’
Forty days after his resurrection, Jesus returned to heaven.
At the end of the chapter, I write about the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection as a real event that happened in history.
Give thanks for Jesus’ sacrificial death through which our sins are forgiven, and new life made possible.
Pray that God may show you how to participate more fully in the resurrection life that Jesus makes possible.