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In Awe of the Resurrection
Seeing God's Glory in Resurrection
If you have a mother like mine who enjoys watching movies from her childhood, perhaps you have seen the famous 1931 movie Frankenstein. It is based off of, English author, Mary Shelley’s book Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus. The premise of the book and movie is that of an audacious scheme by a young scientist named Victor (Henry in the movie) Frankenstein to take the body parts of recently deceased humans and piece them together to create a humanoid. There are two notable differences between the movie and book. The first being Frankenstein’s creature is brought to life in the movie through the use of electricity and in the book it is brought to life using a strange mysterious process Shelley does not elaborate on. The second difference is the how the creature goes mad. In the movie, the creature is given a damaged brain instead of a healthy brain. In the book, the creature is driven mad by its own hideous image. The mysterious process by which the creature is created and the inherent flaws with the creature almost immediately, reflect a deeper truth in the book that is not captured in the movie. Mary Shelley was indirectly challenging atheism and naturalism. These ideas were growing increasingly popular in the academic circles that she was in; which included her husband, Percy Shelley. Mary Shelley was a Christian and was very much opposed to the new enlightenment, individualistic, progressive, and naturalistic movements of the time. This is clearly seen in her writings. Shelley writes in Frankenstein:
Hateful day when I received life!' (The Beast) exclaimed in agony. 'Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and abhorred.’
Mary Shelley recognized the futility of attempting to do something only God can do; resurrect life.
Throughout time mankind have sought immortality. Legends, like the fountain of youth, were created. Figures from history have thought themselves to be immortal. When time came for such people to face the test of death, every single time death won without fail. People throughout history have also considered the possibility of resurrection. The thought of such a thing happening naturally is impossible. If a dead body was left in the forest, that dead body would not come back to the life. The body would decay and return to the ground. It is then made clear that the dead cannot come back to life without the action of an outside influence. Could that outside influence be science? Clearly not. Scientists for centuries have attempted to bring bodies back to life, but they have never succeeded. Even if they were to develop the technology to do so, the results could be, potentially, catastrophic; as Shelley explores in the aforementioned book. Humans are not able to bring something that is dead, back to life. If such technology was developed, it would not just lead to tragedy, but eventually that resurrected body would die again. Considering the inevitability of physical death, it is clear that resurrection is only possible by supernatural means. The question then becomes: what sets apart the Christian claim of resurrection and the thousands of other claims of supernatural resurrection by other religions? The answer is quite simple. Christian resurrection actually happened in the person of Jesus Christ and we can therefore have an expectation it will happen again to His people.
Depending on what congregation of God’s people you worship with on Sundays, you would be lucky to hear two sermons on Resurrection a year. Easter Sunday morning service and Easter Sunday evening service. It is something to be ashamed of. I do not desire to prove the Resurrection of Christ to you (that is a post for another day), but instead to show how important it is to the Christian faith. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the center point of the Christian faith and, in fact, the center point of human history. Paul writes about the importance of the Resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. It seems that people at the time were challenging the doctrine that those that are in Christ would be raised to live in the presence of God for eternity. Paul considers this doctrine, Jesus Christ dying for our sins and being raised on the third day, to be of the utmost importance. It is the doctrine he received, the doctrine he is delivering to others, and the doctrine they are all saved by. Upon the resurrection, rests the entire basis of the Christian faith. If the resurrection did not happen then the Christian faith crumbles. The martyrs died upon this faith. Paul goes on to write in verse 19, “if in Christ we have hoped in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” If Jesus Christ had not been physically raised from the dead, then we will not be raised from the dead either. If our lives ended with no assurance of being with God for the rest of eternity, then what is the point of living this life? We affirm, most certainly, that our lives are changed by Christ and we are sanctified by the Spirit, but we also affirm that the blood of Christ cleanses our sins and we will be raised to dwell in the presence of God. This is the great assurance of being a Christian (1 Cor. 2:9, 1 Pet. 1:4, Jn. 14:2-3, Rev. 2:10, 1 Pet. 1:3-5, Jn. 11:25, Rom. 6:23).
A common objection against the Resurrection is it is simply not physically possible. Is that not part of the very argument of the Christian? Of course the Resurrection is not physically possible. No one can naturally make Resurrection occur. Resurrection is only metaphysically possible. It takes supernatural intervention. It takes the work of a divine being. In the book of Ezekiel, chapter 37, the prophet is brought to a valley and looks upon a valley of dry bones. In verse three, God asks Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezekiel gives the best response possible when he replies, “O Lord God, You know.” By natural means the dry bones could not live again, only through God could it happen. In verses four through ten, the dry bones are brought to life by God. Bone by bone and flesh by flesh then eventually through the breath of God Himself. God had caused people that were not just dead, but dead for a prolonged amount of time, to live. He not only reformed the human body, but put the very breath of life into the people. The Christian can live with that same expectation. An expectation that though we may die, we may have life. We can know that God will raise us because He is able to and He has promised He will. In Job 14, Job asks the rhetorical question in verse 14, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” He then says, “all the days of my service I would wait till my renewal should come.” What is this renewal that Job is referring to? It is very possible that the Old Testament prophets did not completely understand eternal life. It is hard to say, but the Christian application is obvious. We are given a clear picture of resurrection and eternal life. The renewal is resurrection. John writes in John 11:25-26:
Jesus said to (Martha), ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?
Resurrection is found in the person of Jesus Christ, because of His sacrifice on the cross and His Resurrection three days later. This resurrection is promised to those who love Him and desire to be with Him.
Our bodies will be gloriously transformed into His very image and one day we will be raised up to be with our God (1 Jn 3:2, Phil 3:21, 2 Cor 3:18).
Mary Shelley wrote her famous book with the primary intention of terrifying her readers, but with the secondary intention of showing that man’s attempt to replicate God’s work of resurrection will be proven futile. Resurrection is only possible through God, and the resurrection of the Son is the very center point of our faith. I write this to encourage you. If you are a follower of Christ, you will be able to enjoy the riches of a great inheritance waiting for us when we pass from this life. Therefore, you can live this life having hope for tomorrow. I hope you will spread this great news to everyone you meet and you will let Christ change your life as you await the day you will be united with God. If you have not submitted your life to Christ, I encourage you to repent and turn to Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. When you submit to Him, I am convinced your life will be changed and you will be able to enjoy the blessings of being in Christ. Together we can all stand in awe of the majesty and splendor of God and look forward to a day when we will live in His presence forever!
All scriptures are from the ESV (English Standard Version) unless otherwise noted.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus. Knopf, 1992.