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After Easter: The Political Theology of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Messiah

When we think of Jesus as providing a model for behavior for the religious, private, or civic realm but not for politics and government, we adopt a fragmentation utterly foreign to the New Testament.

Not infrequently one hears Christians described as living between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The idea, so far as I can tell, is that Christians live between the death of Jesus on the cross and his appearing in victory.

Most Christians think Jesus won a victory on the cross. But a good number of theologically conservative Christians, perhaps trying to avoid liberation theology or the social gospel (and there is good reason to avoid both), seem to think the implementation of that victory is yet to come. We live between the accomplishment of Jesus’s victory and its implementation. Often this view goes hand in hand with the notion that the salvation Jesus accomplished for us consists in the world to come—in going to Heaven when we die. In other words, it’s for another time or another place. It’s certainly not something here and now.

This notion that we live between Jesus’s crucifixion on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Sunday, however, is quite wrong. It matters a great deal that we live not only after Good Friday but also after Easter Sunday. For His resurrection vindicates His claims and the work of the cross. At the cross of Israel’s Messiah, evil took out all its fury, as the powers of darkness sought to do their worst to hold the Kingdom of God at bay. But the powers failed, and Jesus of Nazareth assumed His place as the world’s only true Lord. According to British theologian and historian N.T. Wright, the cross of Jesus is the place where He is installed as the world’s rightful Lord. It is also the place where He takes on the consequences of human sin and idolatry, bearing them in full, and ending the exile of Israel in particular and of humanity in general. What Pontius Pilate and Roman soldiers intended as parody, says Wright, YHWH intended as reality.

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