Sunday, March 27, 2005

On the third day and the power of the Resurrection

Hosea 6:2 After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.

Talmida has an interesting post about the burial of Christ and the dating of the Last Supper and Holy Week events in general.

I've always settled for the traditional dating: last supper on Thursday, crucifixion on Friday and resurrection on Sunday. Although this verse bothered me quite a bit:

Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

It is tough to get three days from Friday 3pm to Sunday 6am,let alone "three days and three nights." However, that concern was solved for me by my Christology professor who provides a view out there among scholars: an explanation that I really like.

It appears that the idea of the "third day" in the Jewish culture at the time signified the moment of God's power. So that when Jesus says that he'd rise on the "third day," it was not about a third 24 hour day but that God will display his power in Christ. This is brought out by Paul when he says in Ephesians 1: 19.20

19: And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
20: Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,

That phrase "according to the working of his mighty power" apparently is a superlative type greek construction that denotes an an explosiveness. It's not just the "power" but God's "mighty power." Almost like saying the "wet water." "Mighty power" is meant to get a point across. I like to say that imagine if God "stood up" and swung at someone/thing with all it's might, what would that be like? Well he did, he unleashed his power at death in the raising of Christ.

The resurrection is about God's power, his triumph, and less about counting three days after the death. But the one example that brought this reading home to me more than anything is the following.

Imagine that centuries from now, a far removed culture reads your diary in which you say, "she came through for me in the eleventh hour." That's an idiomatic expression that does not mean that she came through for you at eleven o'clock but that as time was winding down and you were out of options.

Christ rose on the third day in an unspeakable display of power that shall never be seen again. And now, as Paul does in 1 Cor. 15:55-57, we can mock death:

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."


Blogger Talmida said...

I like your 11th hour explanation! I wish we knew the underlying story of 3rd day though.

My own personal view is that one either believes or one doesn't -- and that takes faith. Jesus doesn't fulfill all the OT prophecies without a lot of bending and twisting, but faith makes that all unnecessary.

May your EAster be a joyous one, Ono.

9:10 AM  

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