Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7:11-13; ESV)
Many years ago a woman by the name of Edith Schaeffer wrote a book called, "Christianity is Jewish"1, in which she attempted to explain that the essence of Christianity is fundamentally Jewish. According to Schaeffer, Yeshua of Nazareth (she calls him by his anglicized Greek name "Jesus"), is the fulfillment of Jewish Old Testament messianic expectation. It is almost funny that most people, including Christians themselves, don't know that this is actually the definition of Christianity. Whether or not Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah is one thing, but that Christianity claims to be the true inheritor of Old Testament promise is what Christianity simply is.
What is not funny at all is how an ancient worldwide movement that claims today to have 2.2 billion adherents, whatever their level of commitment, and has had the kind of influence it has had in so much of the world, can appear to be as un-Jewish (some would say anti-Jewish) as it is.
This year Pesach (English: Passover) and Easter coincide. While more and more Christians have become aware of the connections between these two foundational events, most still have no idea that Easter is the greatest Jewish story ever told. For buried beneath the cultural trappings of the Easter season is a historical event that is not only core to Christianity, but, contrary to mainstream Jewish and Christian understanding, is something that confirms the validity of biblical Judaism: the resurrection.
The idea that people would one day literally and physically rise from the dead is a uniquely Jewish concept.2 While other peoples held various concepts of life after death, only certain factions of the Jewish world anticipated resurrection. Therefore when Yeshua rose on the third day at Passover two thousand years ago, he not only demonstrated his messianic identity, but confirmed this unusual Jewish belief.
To announce Yeshua's resurrection in the Jewish world of his day was to proclaim that those who believed in resurrection were right after all. To announce his resurrection in the non-Jewish world of that day was to risk mockery by those who thought the restoration of the body was not only an impossibility, but a bizarre way of understanding the value of human physicality.
The resurrection of Yeshua not only confirms this unique Jewish view of life after death, but also confirms a biblical worldview in every way. The material world is not an illusion or temporary, but it is the sphere in which God intended us to live and to serve him. Biblical spirituality is not divorced from physical existence, but rather it has been designed by God to be integrated with the creation. The story of the whole Bible is one in which the created order has been adversely affected by sin and its consequences. The anticipation of the Messiah is all about the restoration of the creation. This is the Jewish hope - a hope confirmed by the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua.
1. Edith Schaeffer, Christianity is Jewish (Huemoz, Switzerland: L'Abri Fellowship, 1975).
2. This is well documented in N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2003).