NT Wright’s ‘The Resurrection of the Son of God’ has been the thickest, the heaviest and the most provocative book I’ve read since lockdown started. It is a 738 page joyous exploration of the staggering, earth shattering and life changing truth that Jesus has been raised from the dead and declared to be the Son of God.
The heart of the book is that the resurrection is not just for Easter because if a man was resurrected it is not only the best news ever but one that must revolutionise us, how we see our lives and how we live them.
Wright’s survey of both ancient and modern culture says the universal assumption is, is that when you’re dead, you’re dead and nothing can bring you back. But this revolutionary belief in resurrection grew uniquely in Israel to such an extent that it became part of the mindset of the majority of Jews by the time of Jesus. It was one the key themes Jesus used to describe himself, his life and what his death would mean. It gave depth and substance to the claim that Jesus is both Lord, Messiah and Son of God and the fulfilment of Israel’s hope. Wright draws out from the New Testament the heart and soul of what resurrection meant to the first Christians. He then surveys early Christian texts into the second century and describes contemporary responses, rejections and refusals to this astonishing truth.
When Jesus died and was resurrected the world was never the same again. This was because when Jesus was resurrected he was demonstrated to be the Son of God. To be the Son of God is to be the one through who God’s saving rule will come into effect. To be the Son of God means your name is higher and greater and mightier than any other name whether they be Nero or Trump. As the Son of God Jesus is celebrated as the defeater of death, the conqueror of Satan, the purifier of sin, the way by which sins forgiven and life made new. As the Son of God it is his risen life we now share in and know to be a life filled with the presence and joy and glory of God by the Spirit.
Jesus was not resurrected to prove there is life beyond death; this was a given in the first century. The angels rolled the stone away that we may know that Jesus is resurrected but even more amazingly that he is the Son of God. This is why Wright used 738 pages because he wants us to settle for nothing less the whole of the truth of what this means.