I have been reading the newest book by N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church, New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2008. After making a credible case for believing in the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus (which came under great attack during the elightment era from many leading intellectual thinkers), Wright makes the following and very profound comment:
Who, after all, was it who didn’t want the dead to be raised? Not simply the intellectually timid or the rationalists. It was, and is, those in power, the social and intellectual tyrants and bullies; the Caesars who would be threatened by a Lord of the world who had defeated the tyrant’s last weapon, death itself; the Herods who would be horrified at the postmortem validation of the true King of the Jews.
He expresses with much grace and elloquence what I have thought for a long time. If Jesus of Nazareth, who died by crucifixion and buried in a tomb, did indeed literally experience a bodily resurrection (and I believe he did), then it becomes the point of departure that redefines our entire life.
Suddenly, the claims, promises, and teachings of Jesus are no longer the ramblings of a radical Jew but the radical reality of the way God created life to be lived (I use the term radical because Jesus’ way of life is so foreign to the way the world lives). Suddenly, our worldviews, philosophies, morals/ethics, goals, interests, and so much more must change. In short, we must change. We must indeed accept him as Lord, die with him in baptism and allow God to raise us up with to live the new kingdom life.
But here is the problem… Just as we all suffered from having tyrants over us, we all seem to enjoy being tyrants over another. Can we give up the desire to be our own little lords? Since I believe and have accepted that Jesus is indeed Lord of all, this is the biggest challenge of my life. It is a challenge that stays with me every day. Some days I do well but on other days I can look back and see the old tyrant lurking around. Why is this such a hard struggle and what can be done about it for those of us who do indeed believe and accept Jesus as Lord?