"What if we heard this as the Gospel?:
Jesus died on the cross, paying the penalty for our sins. Jesus spirit went to heaven to be with God. Therefore we can rest assured that if we accept him, when we die, we too will go the heaven.
Would I think this was the Gospel? Is it OK not to have a bodily resurrection. I find I have no "gut rejection" of this. Yet that could not be less true of the Scriptures. Richard Gaffin says that the Christian life is a resurrection life. That the cross includes the resurrection.
I know one of the movements of our day is a call to be Gospel centered and cross-centered. I am part of that and agree with it! There is no doubt that the NT makes much of the fact that Jesus died on a cross and we are to preach Christ crucified. But as I read I remembered a conversation with a brother just a few days before, in which he asked me -- do we sometimes leave out the resurrection in our focus on the cross?"
"Here is what I see across the pages of the New Testament-- a very consistent emphasis on the exaltation of Jesus. Why is it that the most quoted text of the OT is Psalm 110 -- the ascension of the Messiah to the Right Hand of God? The NT writers stood on this side of the empty tomb and spoke of the cross. I must be careful not to go back to the other side of the empty tomb to look at the cross."
An important reflection.
Risen to reign
Now (and this me now!) reflecting on Psalm 110 as the most quoted OT text in the NT - it is clear that the resurrection is not an end in itself any more than the cross is! The resurrection has achieved so much - it shows us Christ's victory over death, it is the proof of who He is, it is the fulfillment of the OT promises concerning Messiah, it is the assurance of our own resurrection. But the resurrection itself does not stand alone. He rose in order to reign.
And He reigns until His enemies are made His footstool (Ps 110v1). The Father has installed His Redeemer - Resurrected, Ascended, Glorified, and Reigning - His King, upon His holy hill of Zion (Ps 2v6). And He says to Him "Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession." (Ps 2v8)
In fact every part of the ministry of Christ is vital. The Incarnate One, the True Man who alone could stand in our place (and who is our example in life), became the Man upon the Cross - the Redeemer, who triumphed over sin, death, satan and hell and rose from the grave, to ascend (going before us to prepare a place for us, to intercede for us), to reign in glorious splendour, to pour out His Holy Spirit (His coronation anointing oil - Ps 45v7) upon His church, to govern the church as her exalted Head, and to return for a radiant church when His enemies are made His footstool.
Thank God for all this. What a glorious Saviour.