“By six o’clock on the Friday evening that Jesus died, something had changed, and changed radically. Heaven and earth were brought together, creating the cosmic New Temple. God was reconciling the world to Himself in the Messiah (2 Cor 5:19)” Tom Wright
What Christ did for us on the cross is much wider and deeper than any individual can imagine. As western Christians, we have a very personal view of the cross and rightly so: if we were the only sinner in God’s creation Jesus would still love us so much that he would have come and died for us!
However so much more happened when Jesus died and rose again, a new creation was inaugurated. “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come, the old has gone, the new is here! 2Cor 5:17
The physical death and resurrection of Jesus Christ ushered in not just new life for us as individuals but new life for His whole creation, a New Heaven and a physical New Earth joined together in completion when Jesus comes again.
So how does the future reality effect our present-day reality, when we are surrounded by a beautiful but awfully wounded world where greed, pride, war and poverty, among many evils, abound? In many ways, we are people who straddle two worlds. As Paul says in Romans 8: “you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. 8 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.
As Christians, our bodies ache and age. We are called to the same sufferings as Christ, but we have the Holy Spirit living inside us, a powerful source that is released as we pray to see healings and miracles breaking in, as foretastes of our new heavenly bodies, and our heavenly home.
Likewise, we live on an earth that is ravaged by the greed and all the pollution we humans create. Many starve, and lives are made miserable by war and displacement, living as refugees. As Christ’s representatives, living and shining in the midst of this, we can work, through our prayers, actions and giving, to help create little glimpses of a New Heaven and earth here in our present world.
When Christ died and rose again, His kingdom was established in all power and authority. All the powers of death and hell were defeated. We can pray with confidence, “thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as in heaven.”, because it is the actual situation with Jesus sitting on the throne of power and majesty, and all things, all principalities and powers, subject to Him under His feet.
So why does Christ delay His return? Christ gives us the privilege of helping to bring in His kingdom, doing His will in showing the Love of Jesus to those around and telling them about Him; of caring and nurturing His creation, all the time hastening the day when Christ will come again in His glory to bring us to our new home, where we will live in perfect union with Christ and all His New Creation.