The Kingdom of God: Resurrection!
The Kingdom of God is the kingdom of the Resurrected Ones! Jesus told his disciples this: “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” They will get a glimpse of resurrected individuals as well as Jesus himself when he is resurrected.
Next, Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain, and then separated himself from them and was a few feet away. They saw his figure changed: his clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. Then they saw resurrected individuals in the image of Elijah and Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.
Then a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son. Hear Him!” Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves. So Jesus commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, till he is raised from the dead. This will be the fulfillment of not tasting death until they see the Kingdom of God – The Kingdom of the resurrected.
Resurrection is the Hallmark of Jesus’ Kingdom, and Baptism is a type and an initiation into that kingdom! Throughout the Bible, you will see Jesus highlighting resurrection – the evidence of his kingdom. In John 11:25, Jesus stated, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” This power was given as the means to establish that kingdom. Jesus said to Pilot in John 18:36 “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” The distinguishing mark of His kingdom is the realization of life after death.
Some of the religious leaders could not understand this concept; even the disciples were questioning what the rising from the dead meant. Jesus gave them more information by saying “But in the age to come, those worthy of being raised from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. And they will never die again. In this respect, they will be like angels. They are children of God and children of the resurrection. But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead—haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So he is the God of the living, not the dead.” Matthew 22:29-31.
Then the time came for Jesus to be crucified; he died on a cross and was buried. But early that Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.
Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.” Matthew 28:1-7.
The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.” Matthew 28:8-9
The Disciples met Jesus in Galilee and he told them to spread the good news about his resurrection and that the Kingdom of God is here; that they should make disciples – baptizing them in the name of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Baptizing is a form of dying and rising to a new life; it is a form of initiation into the kingdom. The disciples and apostles went about teaching, preaching, and baptizing and making other disciples. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, explained the concept of the resurrection: “…since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. “
“If Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”
“But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power. “
“For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. For the Scriptures say, ‘God has put all things under his authority.’ (Of course, when it says ‘all things are under his authority,’ that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.) Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere. If the dead will not be raised, what point is there in people being baptized for those who are dead? Why do it unless the dead will someday rise again?”
“And why should we ourselves risk our lives hour by hour? For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what Christ Jesus our Lord has done in you. And what value was there in fighting wild beasts—those people of Ephesus—if there will be no resurrection from the dead? And if there is no resurrection, ‘Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!’ Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for ‘bad company corrupts good character.’ Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For your shame, I say that some of you don’t know God at all.”
“But someone may ask, ‘How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?’ What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. Similarly, there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.”
“There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory. It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.”
“The Scriptures tell us, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living person.’ But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. What I am saying my dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.”
“But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
Finally, Paul reported in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.” There we will be living with him in the kingdom – the Kingdom of the resurrected ones. So let’s encourage each other with those words.