With Christ’s first coming, God began the process of reversing the curse of sin and redeeming all things. In Christ, God was moving in a new way. All of Jesus’ ministry—the words he spoke, the miracles he performed—showed that there was a new order in town: God’s order. When Jesus healed the diseased, raised the dead, and forgave the desperate, he did so to show that with the arrival of God in the flesh came the restoration of the way God intended things to be.
Tim Keller observes that Christ’s miracles were not the suspension of the natural order but the restoration of the natural order. They were a reminder of what once was prior to the fall and a preview of what will eventually be a universal reality once again—a world of peace and justice, without death, disease, or conflict.
In his book This Beautiful Mess, Rick McKinley describes the response of a pastor’s response to the death of a friend:
A pastor friend of mine told me that as he was preparing for a funeral once, he decided to go through the Gospels to see how Jesus dealt with funerals. What he discovered was that Jesus did not care for them much. Every one He went to He raised the person from the dead. Jesus doesn’t do funerals, not even his own.
The resurrection of Jesus is the greatest proof of God’s intention to revitalize this broken cosmos. His rising from the dead was “just the beginning of the saving, renewing, resurrecting work of God that will have its climax in the restoration of the entire cosmos,” as K. Scott Oliphant and Sinclair Ferguson remind us. The bodily resurrection of Jesus “was the first bit of material order to be redeemed and transfigured,” writes John Stott. “It is the divine pledge that the rest will be redeemed and transfigured one day.” Christ’s resurrection is both the model and the means for our resurrection—and the guarantee that what he started, he will finish.
The day will come when Christ returns and completes this process of transformation (read Revelation 21, for instance). Psalm 96:11‑13 gives us a poetic glimpse of what will happen when Jesus returns to rule the earth:
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes,
for he comes to rule the earth.
He will rule the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
For those who have found forgiveness of sins in Christ, there will one day be no more sickness, no more death, no more tears, no more division, no more tension. For the pardoned children of God, there’ll be complete harmony. We’ll work and worship in a perfectly renewed earth without the interference of sin. We who believe the gospel will enjoy sinless hearts and minds along with disease-free bodies. All that causes us pain and discomfort will be destroyed, and we will live forever. We’ll finally be able, as John Piper says, “to enjoy what is most enjoyable with unbounded energy and passion forever.”
So take heart, weary soldiers. The best is yet to come.