(John 14:19 ESV) 19 “Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”
Jesus is now referring most especially to his post-resurrection appearances. “Because I [will] live, you also will live” surely means that his own resurrection will prove that his followers will also be resurrected.
Notice that this is true because Jesus was raised with a transformed resurrection body. Lazarus was raised from the dead, but that did not prove that the followers of Lazarus would live! It’s not mere resuscitation that changes the world; it’s the receipt of a body designed to live forever. Otherwise, to be raised is merely to delay death, not to defeat death.
This is why it’s so important that Jesus was raised transformed. Our resurrection will be like his.
(Dan 12:2-3 ESV) 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
(John 20:19 ESV) 19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
(John 20:26 ESV) 26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
(Luk 24:30-32 ESV) 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
(Act 1:9 ESV) 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
(1Co 15:20 ESV) But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep
(1Co 15:22-23 ESV) 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
(1Co 15:51-54 ESV) 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
(Phi 3:20-21 ESV) 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
But there’s more here than the promise of life eternal —
(John 14:20 ESV) 20 “In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.”
Jesus has earlier told us that he is in his Father and his Father is in him. We are now told that we will be in Jesus and Jesus will be in us. The parallel is, of course, intentional. On the other hand, Jesus is obviously not saying that we’ll be joined with Jesus in the same metaphysical way he is joined with the Father. But the unity created will be in many ways similar.
This is what we called theosis in the Creation 2.0 series.
The scriptures repeatedly speak in terms of Christians becoming one with God, not in the sense of becoming gods themselves but in the sense of a deeply intimate, intense relationship. Think of the relationship with God enjoyed by Adam before the Fall and Moses in the wilderness. Think of some of the prophets.
Most modern Western Christians devalue the mystical elements of Christianity, that is, the belief in the immediately supernatural. We are far more comfortable with God acting in the distant past, preferring our miracles safely stowed away in history.
And yet Jesus is plainly promising a present relationship between him and his church that is comparable to his relationship with God. Notice that I said “his church” and not “the individual Christian.” “You” is plural in both instances. We impose our cultural values on the text when we assume Jesus is referring especially to a one-to-one relationship.
After all, when the scriptures speak of having an intimate relationship with Christ, the text is usually referring to the church. It’s the church that is the “bride” and the “body” of Christ, metaphors for a deeply intimate and personal relationship. It’s the church that is the family or household of God. It’s the church that is the temple in which God dwells through the Spirit.
“Church” does not mean “the elders” or the leadership or the guys who speak at lectureships. The church is the individual pewsitters, but it’s a community of individuals living in community. I think the text strongly points us toward the church as community as the key to this kind of relationship.
(Act 4:31-32 ESV) 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. 32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.
This “one heart and soul” relationship Luke relates in Acts is part of the same concept. They prayed together. They gathered together. They were filled with the Spirit together.
But, of course, it’s much, much easier to individually commit to greater piety in hope of developing a deeper, individualized relationship with Jesus — but no one said it was supposed to be easy. Indeed, our American culture of radical individualism, consumerism, church-shopper-ism, and lack of commitment to one another is surely one of the biggest barriers to what Jesus has promised us.