My mom’s mother is the epitome of the southern granny. She is short, nice, and wears the tiny circle glasses. Her hairstyle has been the classic “granny fro” for as long as I’ve been alive. She has the essential Charleston accent straight from “Gone With The Wind” and says things like “over yonder” and “bless your heart.” To top it off, she’s an excellent cook. When we go to her house, we never have to worry if we’ll have a good meal. My grandma is going to have dinner on lockdown.
One of my favorite things that she makes is cake. She can make all kinds of different themes and styles, but I just like plain old chocolate cake. There’s something about Granny’s chocolate cake that makes me feel better about life. I loved it so much growing up that I asked her to make a big one for my birthday when I was a kid. We had the party at my house and she came over early to help us set up. She brought that masterpiece of a cake that she baked up along with her as well.
She came in the afternoon, but the party didn’t actually start until later that evening. The thought of waiting several more hours for that cake was killing me. Especially after I had already seen it. Like Eve in the garden of Eden, I had seen the cake and it was pleasant to my eyes. Very pleasant. However, I still held on to the sweet hope that I would have granny’s chocolate cake in a few hours, which seemed like years.
However, suddenly Granny gave me some wonderful news. She asked, “Blake, do you want to go ahead grab a small piece of cake now?” A small piece?! Now? And I don’t have to wait all the way until the party comes and they sing “Happy Birthday” to me? Of course I wanted a piece! So, I was able to taste and see that the chocolate cake was good. I had the opportunity to experience a small foretaste of the fullness of Granny’s cake that was soon to come.
And that’s a bit what Jesus’ resurrection was like.
One of my favorite old hymns is one called “Blessed Assurance”. These are the first lyrics of the song:
Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine
O, what a foretaste of glory divine!
O, what a foretaste for sure! You see, when Jesus rose from the dead, it wasn’t the fact that a person rose from the dead that surprised his Jewish followers the most. In reality, many Jewish people in Jesus’ time already believed in a future resurrection of the dead. It was written in about in their Scriptures (our Old Testament) and it was taught by some of the prominent religious leaders of their day, such as the Pharisees. They were expecting to be raised from the dead one day. In the age to come, as they called it, all who were a part God’s faithful people were going to be resurrected in one big, glorious, apocalyptic event.
But, what they didn’t expect was a small foretaste of the chocolate cake before the birthday party.
They didn’t expect one person to rise from the dead ahead of everyone else. When Jesus was resurrected, that was exactly what happened. He gave the world a foretaste of what the Jewish people already knew was going happen in the future. This foretaste of the future age happened in the present age. So, now, the future and the present had sort of overlapped. What was going to happen in its fullness in the future with everyone had already partially happened in the present with one person, Jesus.
The world was exposed to a little piece of the chocolate cake and it changed everything. Jesus’ resurrection flipped everything upside down. Or, in reality, it flipped it right-side up. The questions that Jesus’ followers asked back then are the same ones that we ask today: what does this foretaste mean for us? How exactly does Jesus’ resurrection change everything?
It’s as simple as it is complex: Jesus ushered in a new age. The age to come and the present age morphed into the this weird state where we’re kind of living in both of them. With Jesus’ resurrection, a bit of God’s glorious future had broken into the present. Not everything that the Jewish people had been expecting happened, but we sure got a little slice of it. The age to come hadn’t fully arrived like they thought it would, but Jesus, in way, inaugurated it in a way they didn’t see coming.
There’s a twist though. Since Jesus brought the future here to the present, we are called to do the same thing. Jesus’ resurrection looked forward to the day when all will be resurrected. Jesus showed us what it’s like in the present to live in the kingdom that will be fully realized in the future. As his followers, we have the same mission. We are called to embody in the present what will be a reality in the future. We are called to give the world a foretaste. We are called to live the resurrection life.
This is an excerpt from my book, “Church Kid: Restoring Your Faith After Being Raised in Church,” now available for purchase here.