So far I have talked about the significance of the belief in Jesus’ resurrection for both Christology (the understanding of who Jesus was) and soteriology (the understanding of how salvation works).  It also was significant for eschatology (the understanding of what would happen at the end of time).

Christologically, the resurrection proved that Jesus really was the favored one of God, appearances notwithstanding.  It may have *seemed* like the crucifixion would show that Jesus was not God’s son, and certainly not the messiah; but the resurrection (for those who came to believe in it) showed that in fact he was.  He was the son of God in an even more exalted sense than anyone had thought – he actually had been made into a divine being.  So too he was the messiah in a more exalted sense than had been expected – he was not a mere human king but the divine King of all.

Soteriologically, the resurrection showed that the death of Jesus had not been a mere miscarriage of justice or the unfortunate bad end to a good man.  It showed that the crucifixion in fact was all part of God’s plan to bring about the salvation of the world.  Jesus’ death had been an atoning sacrifice that brought redemption.

The resurrection also had a profound effect on the disciples’ understanding of eschatology, their notions of the end times.   As I have argued repeatedly, Jesus himself believed that the end of the age was coming within his own generation, that a figure he called the “son of man” was to arrive from heaven in judgment on the earth (I’ll be discussing Jesus’ views of the son of man in subsequent posts).  This figure was the cosmic judge of all things, as predicted by the prophet Daniel (see Daniel 7:1-14).  At his coming all the dead would be raised, the good for reward and the wicked for punishment.

But once Jesus was believed to have been raised from the dead, the disciples’ views changed – not so much in ways to flat-out contradict what Jesus had taught but in ways that changed and shaped what he had said.  They came to think that Jesus himself was the Son of Man he had predicted (historically, I will argue, he was certainly not predicting himself to come!); and they concluded that the end had started.

Before unpacking these two points, let me make another more fundamental one that most people have never thought about (or at least I assume so, since I never thought about it for about 50 years!).  Here is the key question that is almost never asked: why would someone who had a vision of a deceased loved one think that the person had been raised from the dead?

Think about it.   Suppose…

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