One of my favorite experiences of the church has been writing songs for our Sunday meetings, and I’ve been honored to see how they’ve circulated in our community. Translating the poetry of Scripture and the church mothers and fathers into music is a meditative act for me, and I hope that you can get a sense of that this week. — Andrew Yang
Today’s Bible reading
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
More Thoughts for Meditation
You, know what it is to die, and then again to rise, to die and then to rise
Oh, you went ahead to die, ahead of us to rise, the first of us to rise
So, we follow you to die, we follow you to rise, Lord teach us how to die
So, our sinful selves have died, with you were crucified, and then in you we rise
My pastor dad when I was growing up loved Hebrews 12:2, which describes Jesus as the “pioneer and perfector of faith,” so much that he named his church after it: “Pioneer Christian Fellowship.” I was never all that impressed by that description of Jesus, as it just made me think of Jesus looking like one of those pioneers from Oregon Trail.
I have a better appreciation of the idea as an adult. Paul describes Jesus’s resurrection as the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep,” in the same way that the author of Hebrews describes Jesus as the “pioneer” of our faith — Jesus was the first of us to rise, and because of that, we know that we too will rise. The emphasis here is that Jesus is one of us.
Suggestions for action
What strikes me about this is that the promise of our resurrection depends on Jesus’ humanity, again, as one of us. In myths and stories, gods do things that we can never do all the time, including rising from the dead. But the writers of the New Testament want us to realize that Jesus was fully human when he resurrected, and that this resurrection comes out of his humanity and obedience to God, and not his divinity. And because it is a human being that was resurrected in glory, so eventually will all human beings that follow after him.
I don’t know if anyone puts it better than Charles Wesley and George Whitefield in “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,”
Come, Desire of nations, come!
Fix in us Thy humble home:
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head;
Adam’s likeness now efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Jesus in John 14 promises that “the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these,” which is an astounding promise, but one that’s worth remembering whenever it seems that we’re facing something impossible in our liberatory work. There is nothing that Jesus could do that we can’t also do, and more. Jesus was the pioneer, the firstfruits, but we follow after him.