Nearly two billion Christians throughout the international globe called Earth will celebrate the resurrection of Christ in the Easter festival. Untold millions of colored eggs, supposedly laid by rabbits, will be eagerly searched for by brightly dressed children. Hundreds of millions of Christians who seldom attend church will make their yearly pilgrimage dressed in Easter finery. Billions of dollars will be spent and made on Easter related things - from special candies to new bonnets.
On December 25th nearly two billion persons in every nation on country on earth will celebrate the birth of Jesus the Nazarene. Virtually the entire earth will light up with Christmas colors and religious pageants. Billions of dollars will be spent and earned by Christians and non-Christians alike. Indeed, for many merchants the Christmas season is “make up break” for their financial profits for the year.
Few of these two billion Christians will realize that neither of these two festivals were ever encouraged or sanctioned by the original Church founded by Jesus Christ. Indeed, the only memoriam he enjoins upon his disciples is the annual observance of his death, called the Lord’s Supper. [See the article above.]
Why is it that the birth and resurrection of Christ were not among early Christian observances? There are several reasons, but here we focus on one and the Biblical meanings behind this principle. Consider what one of the wisest inspired men to ever live wrote a thousand years before Christ:
Better a good name than costly oil,
The day of death than the day of birth.
Better to go to the house of mourning
Than to the house of feasting,
For to this end everyone comes,
Let the living take this to heart.
[Ecclesiastes 7:1, 2 New Jerusalem Bible]
According to this inspired principle it would be the day of Jesus’ death which should be “taken to heart” rather than the day of his birth.
There are very good reasons why the death of Jesus Christ ought to be celebrated. His death was foretold as well as the fundamental reason for it. [Compare the article above] Isaiah 53:5, 10,12 foretold the suffering and death of the Messiah and what that death would accomplish:
Yet ours were the sufferings [Messiah] was bearing,
Ours the sorrows he was carrying,
While we [Jews] thought of him as someone being punished
And struck with affliction by God;
Whereas he was being wounded for our rebellions,
Crushed because of our guilt;
The punishment reconciling us fell on him.
It was Yahweh’s good pleasure to crush [Messiah] with pain;
If he gives his life as a sin offering,
He will see his offspring and prolong his life,
And through him Yahweh’s good pleasure will be done.
After the ordeal [Messiah] has endured,
He will see the light and be content.
By his knowledge, the upright one, my servant will justify many
By taking their guilt on himself.
Hence I [Yahweh] shall give [Messiah] a portion with the many,
And he will share the booty wit the mighty,
For having exposed himself to death
And for being counted as one of the rebellious,
Whereas he was bearing the sin of many
And interceding for the rebellious.
[New Jerusalem Bible]
According to Isaiah’s prophecy the death of Messiah would result in the “bearing the sins of many.” We note the prophet did not say “all” but “many.” Indeed, the Messiah himself gave the same reason for his death at Matthew 20:28: “The Son of Humankind came, not to be served but to serve, and offer his soul as a ransom in exchange for many.” [NCMM Paraphrase] Thus, Messiah’s death would serve as a “ransom” - or a sin-offering - for “many.”
Jesus was aware that all humankind had inherited a defective DNA from Adam and Eve resulting in their ongoing deaths. The Spirit-Helper sent by the Risen Lord pressured Paul to write: “Through one man sin came into the social order of humanity -- and death because of sin - and so death spread to all humans because they all had sinned.” [Romans 5:12 NCMM Paraphrase] This death-principle had been understood by the ancient servants of God. [Job 14:4; Psalm 51:5; Ecclesiastes 7:29]
The sins of humankind sent every human into unconscious death and there they would remain unless God had provided the means for returning them to life. That all the dead would be raised to stand before God’s Judgment was taught by Jesus the Nazarene: “But I tell you that every fruitless word human’s speak will be held to account on Judgment Day. For by your words you will be declared righteous and by your words you will be accursed.” [Matthew 12:36, 37 NCMM] The Nazarene taught this Judgment Day would have two outcomes: “All those in the memoriums will hear the voice [of the Son of Humankind] - those having done good things unto a resurrection of life, [and] those who habitually did vile things unto a resurrection of condemnation.” [John 5:28, 29 NCMM Paraphrase; compare Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2]
Paul taught both the Jews and the Greeks that there would be a resurrection of all humanity to a judgment. To a Greek court of philosophers, Paul expressed his belief: “Indeed, the God has overlooked these times of ignorance, but now He is declaring to all humankind everywhere that they should repent. Because He has appointed a day in which He is to judge the inhabited earth in justice by a Man He has appointed. He has furnished something in which all may trust by resurrecting him from among the dead.” [Acts 17:30, 31 NCMM] To a Roman court he defended himself when he said: “I have a hope in the God - a hope these men also share - that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” [Acts 24:15 NCMM]
The very possibility of this resurrection of all humanity from the unconscious condition of the dead [Psalm 146:3, 4; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10] was based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote about this declaring two primary things: a] all, everyone, would be resurrected; and, b] there would be two orders to this resurrection. Consider his words:
However, now Christ has been raised up from the dead -- a firstfruits of those have lain themselves down to sleep. For since death is through a human, also through a human [is] the resurrection of the dead. For just as in the Adam all are dying, just so also, in the Christ all will be made alive. However, each person in an individual order: Christ, a firstfruits; thereafter those of the Christ at his Arrival; and, then, the End … [when] the Last Enemy is rendered completely ineffective.” [1 Corinthians 15:20-24, 26 NCMM; compare notes in Nazarene Commentary 2000©
All humanity is divided into two major “orders”: First, those of the Christ at his Parousia [presence; arrival]. This “first resurrection” will include every person who professed to be a Christian and claimed Jesus Christ as Lord. The early resurrection will have two outcomes: a] everlasting immorality to those who conquer; and, b] everlasting extinction to those who were habitually “vile.” This was the Nazarene’s own teaching as we have read above in John 5:28, 29.
Both Paul and John borrow some of Jesus’ words in John 5:28, 29 - which is a Christine paraphrase of Daniel 12:2 - when they write about these two outcomes to the resurrection of the Church. Paul writes: “For it is a necessity that all of us must appear in front of the judgment-seat of the Christ, so that each person might receive due payment for the things done while in the flesh - whether he performed good or vile things.” [2 Corinthians 5:10 NCMM Paraphrase] With this John agrees, using similar language: “Now, little children, continue to abide in (Jesus) so when the time comes for him to be made visible we all might speak openly and freely at his Arrival and not experience embarrassment while standing before him … in the day of judgment.” [1 John 2:28; 4:17 NCMM Paraphrase]
Some call this the parousia-judgment and it is the subject of several of the Nazarene’s parable. At your leisure read Matthew 24:45-25:46 and note the illustrations regarding the judgment upon the House of the Master. [Compare also Luke 12:32-48.] Jesus compared this judgment to a field filled with wheat and weeds - sons of the Kingdom and sons of the Wicked One - and what the Sower would do upon the Harvest. Note the two outcomes: “The Son of Humankind will send forth his angels and they will cull out of his Realm everything that causes scandal and those doing lawlessness. The angels will cast out the sons of the Evil One into a furnace of fire. There will be lamentation and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine for like the sun in the Realm of their Father. Let the one with ears, hear.” [Matthew 13:41-43 NCMM; compare also Matthew 7:21-23]
Thus the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ results in the immortal glorification of his True Church. But, what of the rest of mankind, how does the death and resurrection of Jesus affect them in their billions and billions?
As Paul has shown above “all” [everyone] will be raised in a resurrection to a judgment. [Hebrews 9:27] Paul says this will occur at “the End” [1 Corinthians 15:24] and just so the Revelation of Jesus Christ puts the general resurrection of all humanity at the end of Messiah millennial reign:
“The rest of the Dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years ended. … Then I saw a great White Throne. Heaven and earth fled from before the face of the One sitting upon the Throne no place was found for them. Then I saw the Dead, the great and the small, standing in the sight of the white Throne. Little books were opened and another little Book was opened, the Book of Life. The Dead were judged out of the things written in the Little Books, according to their works. The Sea gave up its dead and The Death and the Hades gave up their dead. They were judged according to their works.” [Revelation 20:5, 12, 13 NCMM; compare details in Nazarene Apocalypse 2000©]
Thus, all humankind will be resurrected based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Had Jesus not died and been resurrected all humanity would remain in non-existence. There would never have been the opportunity for a fair and just judgment before the Throne of the “Judge of all the Earth.” [Genesis 18:25] How God’s righteous judgment will be declared to all the universal cosmos: each person will be judged based on their words and conduct and then have opportunity to hear that judgment. Every vile Christian, Jew, and pagan will hear the decree of “Guilty” and all the righteous universe will know that God is Just. Every righteous Christian, Jew, and pagan will have an everlasting opportunity to bed the knee to God’s Son Jesus Christ. [Romans 2:5-16; Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 5:13] We rejoice that the day of Christ’s death has become exceedingly better than the day of his birth!
O, the depths of God’s riches, knowledge and wisdom!
Unsearchable are His judgments
And untraceable His ways!
Because everything originated from Him and by Him.
And to Him be the glory unto the ages. Amen!
[Romans 11:33-35 NCMM]
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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