Pinocchio and the Resurrection

pinocchioThis post is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the March, 2009, edition of The Adopted Life.

Jesus’ resurrection is often explained in terms of his Divinity. The reasoning tends to go something like this: Since the Son of God can’t stay dead, when Jesus rose it proved that he really was the Son of God. That’s true, in as far as it goes. However, as with so much of the gospel, the complete picture is lost by neglecting Jesus’ humanity when trying to work out what is happening. Jesus himself is the good news that we call “the gospel”. He is the gospel because he is fully God and fully human. That means that he is the union of Divinity and humanity, the union of the Trinity with the human race. And that is good news for us! When we look at Jesus we see that we are with God and God is with us; there is no separation.

Therefore, whatever we look at about Jesus’ life – including the resurrection – we need to see how his humanity explains the event as much as his Divinity explains it. The resurrection is way more than Jesus just proving that he is God the Son by getting up after a hard day’s work and heading home.

To think more fully about the resurrection we might do well to start by thinking about the Father’s purpose for humanity. Scripture tells us that the Father created us so that he could adopt us as his children in Jesus (Eph. 1:5). The Catechism of the Episcopal Church expresses it this way: “The divine Son became human, so that in him human beings might be adopted as children of God.” (The Book of Common Prayer, pg. 850.) The Father did not create us so that he would have some people to save from sin. He created us so that we could share in the joy, love, and peace of the life he has always had with the Son in their Spirit.

This purpose and plan raises a dilemma: how can creatures become children of their creator? That was Pinocchio’s dilemma, if you recall. He was a puppet, but he and Geppetto wanted him to be a real boy and be Geppetto’s son. Like created puppets that want to be real boys, we have to ask how we mere creatures can love, live, and even dance together in the Divine dance of the Trinity. Of ourselves and on our own it is impossible. The only way we will ever be able to really be children of the Father is if the only Son of the Father – the second person of the Trinity – shares with us the Father/Child relationship that he has always had with the Father. We cannot ever, by our effort, make ourselves into children, but the Father can give us that relationship by giving us his Son and pouring out their Spirit on us.

This is the primary purpose for which the Son of God became flesh and made his permanent dwelling with us: to accomplish the plan of adoption by sharing with us his relationship with the Father in the Spirit. His secondary purpose in coming was to deal with our fallen, sinful nature and put that nature to death. The Father’s plan of adoption would have been frustrated by our sin because our sin would have forever blinded us to the adoption accomplished by the Son becoming one of us. So, the Son comes into our humanity to make us children of the Father and to heal the blindness of our sin so that we might see, believe, and enjoy this relationship we’ve been given.

This dilemma of creatures becoming children also has a second aspect besides sin: it is the nature of our bodies. Pinocchio also struggled with this dilemma, being made of wood as he was. He could hardly be Geppetto’s son if he continued to have a wooden head.

Our bodies are corruptible and mortal but true children of the Father must be incorruptible and immortal. We can hardly be children of the immortal Father if we are mortal. How can mortal creatures become immortal children? The only immortal Son – the second person of the Trinity – must share with our corruptible human nature his incorruptible immortality. And this is exactly what he did in his resurrection as the man Jesus. When the Son of God rose in the immortal, incorruptible body of his resurrection (Luke 24:39), he transformed the nature and destiny of the human body and resurrected our human nature in his resurrection.By doing this he makes it possible for us to live forever, not as corruptible creatures, but as incorruptible children. In Jesus the Father is thus bringing many children to glory (Heb. 2:10).

So, Jesus’ resurrection serves at least three purposes (and probably more if we take time to think about it). In order of relevance to the fulfillment of the Father’s plan of adoption, I would say those three purposes are:

1. To raise humanity up as an immortal body in which we may be full children of the Father.

2. To transform our fallen, sinful humanity into glorified humanity which is capable of relating to the Father without the blindness of sin.

3. To prove that Jesus really is the Son of God and Son of Man.

May this Easter season be a celebration in your life of all the goodness that comes from our Father in the immortality of his Son Jesus Christ!

~ Jonathan Stepp

5 comments so far

  1. Bill Winn on

    Great news! “I’m a real boy!!!” Thank you Father, Son, and Spirit! I love it what a great modern parable. Thanks Jonathan.

  2. Jerome on

    Love it! Now THAT’S the gospel!

  3. Jonathan Stepp on

    Thanks, Bill and Jerome!

  4. chris scott on

    Jonathan,

    How have you been brother? I trust all is going well with you! Hey, I have been doing a lot of thinking, as is always the case 🙂 and after reading your most recent article about Easter and Pinocchio, I just had to ask you a couple of questions. So, here they are, stemming from what you wrote. Here is what you wrote:

    So, Jesus resurrection serves at least three purposes (and probably more if we take time to think about it). In order of relevance to the fulfillment of the Fathers plan of adoption, I would say those three purposes are:

    1. To raise humanity up as an immortal body in which we may be full children of the Father.

    2. To transform our fallen, sinful humanity into glorified humanity which is capable of relating to the Father without the blindness of sin.

    3. To prove that Jesus really is the Son of God and Son of Man.

    Here are my questions:

    1. Why does God (Father, Son and Spirit) have to make us out of an immortal substance to begin with?

    2. Why do we have a “fallen” and “blind” human condition in the first place?

    3. Why does God have to “prove” anything to his creatures, when he could have given us the ability to discern reality with actual clarity from the beginning, instead of looking through a glass darkly, as the Apostle Paul so aptly stated?

    Love you bro, hope to hear from you soon.

    Chris

    Date: Thu, 4 Apr 2013 13:45:36 +0000 To: crscott82@hotmail.com

    • Jonathan Stepp on

      Hi Chris,
      I’m doing well, hope you are too! Sorry to be so slow in getting back to you. I’m not sure I have an answer to your first question, as for the second one I think it has something to do with giving us freedom so that relationship will be authentic but we misuse that freedom – although I’m still working through that as well. As for the final question, I think of it in the same way I think my relationship with my kids: early on they didn’t know me at all, they were babies and they saw in a glass darkly. Over the years of being in relationship with me they have grown in their ability to know me and I am in the process of proving my love to them as they grow. I think it’s the same with us and God: we were created in immaturity and are growing up, with our ability to know God increasing and our understanding of God’s love and faithfulness increasing. Why would God create us immature and have us grow up instead of simply creating us fully mature to begin with? I don’t know, but we do see it everywhere in nature: the formation of galaxies and stars, the evolution of life on earth, the growth of giant trees from tiny seeds, etc., etc. The most I can say is that God seems to love growth, process, evolution, and gradual development toward maturity. He seems to almost love the process as much as the outcome and the journey as much as the destination. Maybe it’s just God’s personality or maybe there are factors beyond our comprehension.


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