Jesus Lives – In You!

two hands connected by a blade of grass
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/8047705@N02/5373531103/">LifeSupercharger</a>

1 Peter 3:18-22

Jesus himself, though righteous, once suffered because of wrongdoing, for all of us wrongdoers. He did it so you’d be able to keep company with God. Jesus was executed like any human, but his spirit lives on. That spirit proclaimed release to imprisoned spirits, spirits that were insubordinate back in Noah’s time.  That’s when God bided time while Noah built the ark in which only 8 people survived the flood. Now, baptism is like that. It doesn’t just get your body clean. It’s a good-faith down payment commitment that you’ll live in that same resurrection spirit as Jesus, who has reached the goal and is waiting with God, who now commands angels and all the powers that be.

This is another of those passages that is often assumed to be a prooftext for “transactional redemption.” It’s only because it’s been read for so long in this way that it appears so. Jesus’ suffering “for us” doesn’t require a transactional reading. It could just as easily lead to an exemplary redemption (which is also in the early background of Christian theology).

The point, in any case, is that Jesus’ spirit lives on. (Peter doesn’t seem to know anything about Paul’s resurrection of the body.) The spirit of Jesus lives on, both in the metaphysical realm of heaven, and in the real here-and-now realm of people who have been baptized – who have made a commitment – to live and die as he lived and died. Inasmuch as Jesus’ followers continue to make and keep that commitment, in spite of the very real suffering that is the consequence of such a life, Jesus spirit lives on. Indeed, Peter and the early Christians would have said that this, as much as any Easter event, is the meaning of Resurrection.