The disciples had said they would die for such a Messiah. But with the death of Jesus, all hope was gone. Their dream of a righteous world under His rule had vanished. Now they had to concede that the bad guys had won—the corrupt political and religious system was still intact.
Then they met the resurrected Messiah. In that surrealistic moment, two of their greatest questions were answered. First, they saw that the Pharisees were correct; there was a supernatural world beyond this one, for this physical resurrection was proof of it. Thus, the Sadducees were completely wrong in their rejection of the resurrection. Second, and more personal, it was apparent that everything Jesus had said was true.
But an oft-overlooked cultural question was resolved as well: How would God deal with corruption in society? In their temple? They were looking for Jesus to overthrow and destroy evil, to clean up the corruption. They had seen demons cast out, the sick healed, and the tables of the moneychangers in the temple turned over. They were awaiting a cataclysmic judgment on the wicked, yet it appeared that nothing had changed. Jesus was alive, but the world was the same.
The new system could not be corrupted, no more than their risen Messiah could be corrupted (Ps. 16:10). The kingdom that Jesus would bring into existence would consume and purify the temple, the priesthood, and the very earth itself, but it would occur on God’s schedule, not theirs.
This subtle cultural impact of the Resurrection can lead to a deeper comprehension of its significance. It shows that God’s intention was not to destroy faithless humanity, the Empire, or the corrupted temple, but to remake them incorruptibly. Rather than destroy His Son and have Him return completely new, He glorified His Son. Instead of bringing vengeful destruction, Jesus’ rule would renew creation, removing the punishment, power, and eventually the very presence of sin from His church, and eventually the entire creation. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:20–21). That Jesus came back to direct His followers in re-creating, not destroying, His enemies may have been the most surprising thing of all about the Resurrection.