But if a “new creation” did truly start with Jesus’ resurrection, why aren’t we seeing huge changes in our world for the better? Jesus also said – right after his resurrection in Matthew 28:18 – that “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.” So he’s had the power to make huge changes, but where are they? And in Colossians 2:15 his “triumph on the cross” had “disarmed the powers and authorities” and “made a public spectacle of them” like a victorious Roman general parading his defeated enemies through the streets of Rome, but where do we see those defeated enemies today? Evil is still rampant.
So if the world hasn’t changed much for the better since Jesus’ resurrection, what has changed, if anything?
There’s a clue in John 20:17 when the resurrected Jesus says to Mary Magdalene, “Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Well, that was different, because only moments before that – when Jesus calls out to Mary by name and she recognizes him – she blurts out, ”Rabboni,” and in brackets it says: “which means Teacher.”
So up to this point Mary sees herself as Jesus’ student. She loves him dearly, but there’s still that respectful distance between a student and teacher. Did she catch what Jesus had just said in verss 17, then, about the Father being “your” Father?
This was extraordinary, because never in the gospel accounts had the Father been the Father to anyone but Jesus. Jesus had called his disciples his “brothers” before, because they all worshipped the same God, but never had Jesus said, “My Father is your Father too.” The relationship between the Father and Jesus had been reserved for Jesus alone. Only Jesus was called “My beloved Son” by the Father, no one else.
But here was Jesus telling his disciples that his Father was now their Father too. Their relationship with God was now as much Father and son as the Father and Jesus were Father and Son. They could now address God as “Father,” just like Jesus had been doing. Jesus had hinted at such a relationship in the Lord’s Prayer which began with “Our Father,” but that was acknowledging we’re all God’s children, rather than a clear statement that we have the same relationship with God that Jesus had.
So verse 17 was a watershed moment, when the relationship between humans and God was no longer teacher and student, it was Father and son – or in Mary’s case, Father and daughter. And because God was now their Father as well as Jesus’ Father, it literally made the disciples Jesus’ “brothers” (verse 17), and Mary his sister.
And this was the great change that Jesus’ resurrection made. It elevated us humans to the point we can look upon and address God as our Father. The evidence we’re looking for, then, that the new creation began with Jesus’ resurrection is in the new creation we humans have become, who catch on to what Jesus said to Mary in verse 17.
It takes us back to the Garden of Eden and the relationship with God we had back then, when he walked and talked with that first man, gave him charge of his creation, had the man care for his beautiful oasis in Eden and name the animals. It was a lovely open relationship we had with God, but we lost it.
How significant, then, that our relationship with God was restored in another garden at Jesus’ resurrection, and two angels were present at that restoration too, just as two angels were present in the Garden of Eden at the loss of that relationship. It pictures so well what God made possible for us through Jesus’ resurrection, and how it’s all about our relationship with God being restored to what it could have been in Eden, and how that relationship now changes us.
So it’s not changes in the planet that Jesus’ resurrection began, it’s the change of relationship between us and God, and what that new relationship does in changing us. So that one day, when God gives us charge of his creation again, we will bring about a vastly new creation to what we see today.
And that’s when we’ll see the huge changes in our world for the better.