Interview with John Piper
Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org
Why must our bodies get resurrected? That was one theme Pastor John touched on in a message in the spring of 2014, delivered at the Carl F.H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity International University near Chicago. In that message, Pastor John was recounting some lessons he’s taken from the works of Jonathan Edwards, lessons he’s learned about the work of Christ. Here’s a clip I wanted to share from that message.
The work of Christ in redemption does not only restore, but it advances God’s aim in creation. Christ was not merely a remedy or an afterthought to recover what was lost. The history of redemption climaxes with the cross, not only as a means of restoration, but a means of advance. Christ was the goal of creation, not a means to the goal. He didn’t just recover a goal; he was the goal.
And by his incarnation and death and resurrection, the glory of God was put on new display in its most vivid and lavish excellency. Christ did not come and die and rise only to restore our joy in God, but to become our joy in God. The incarnate God did not appear simply to enable us to rejoice in God, but to become the focus of our rejoicing in God.
Edwards put his incomparable lens to the gospel of the glory of Christ to describe the glory of Christ most compellingly in what may be his third-most famous sermon — namely, “The Excellency of Christ,” which I love. And the beauty of Christ in that sermon is developed in a stunning way to show that, when Christ did his work, he wasn’t merely enabling us to have something we had lost, but to become, in that work, the very focus of the glory that we once thought we saw and now see in fullness.
So, here’s his description of the glory of Christ — the glory of God — that we could not know without the revelation of God in Christ. The beauty is in the juxtaposition of these seeming opposites. These are things that mingle in Christ and thus constitute his incomparable beauty:
- Infinite highness and infinite condescension
- Infinite justice and infinite grace
- Infinite glory and lowest humility
- Infinite majesty and transcendent meekness
- Deepest reverence toward God and equality with God
- Infinite worthiness of good and the greatest patience under sufferings of evil
- An exceeding spirit of obedience with supreme dominion over heaven and earth
- Absolute sovereignty and perfect resignation
- Self-sufficiency and an entire trust and reliance on God
Christ, the incarnate second person of the Trinity, the Redeemer, is now the fullness of the revelation of the glory of God. He didn’t just repair our ability to see something old; he became what God meant for us to see all along.
So, for example, when it says in Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore,” the Old Testament saints tasted that, and it was glorious — and they didn’t have a clue what the fullness meant. None of the saints knew the fullness of the meaning of that promise: that at God’s right hand are pleasures forevermore. It took the incarnation and the New Testament revelation to show that the pleasures at God’s right hand are the pleasures of God the Father in God the Son and the pleasures of God the Son in God the Father.
“Christ did not come and die and rise only to restore our joy in God, but to become our joy in God.”
And now he has come. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). And you should put into the term well pleased billions of tons of pleasure. We gloss over those words so quickly. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I — God Almighty, with all of my infinite energy — am totally pleased and have been from all eternity. And now you can see what my joy is. Now you can see the joy that is at my right hand: my joy is joy in my image in my Son.”
Tie That Binds
What binds the children of God to their Father for eternity is that we enjoy the Son of God with the very joy of God the Father. Jesus had already said in John 15:11, “I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” So now you not only have Jesus praying for the love of the Father for the Son to become my love for the Son, but you have Jesus saying, “My joy, my joy in the Father — I have spoken to you so that my joy would be in you. There’s no other way for your joy to be full than for my joy in God to become your joy in God.”
So now we have our joy in the Father being the Son’s joy in the Father, and our joy in the Son being the Father’s joy in the Son. And we must have a new resurrection body, or we will be blown to smithereens by that experience. And that’s not a joke at all. That is why you must have a new body. These experiences are so magnificent that this “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50). That doesn’t mean you won’t have a resurrection body; it means this one won’t work. This one will not work for that experience forever.