【From The President' s Desk】The Theology of Resurrection and Theological Education/ Dr. James Cheung

When Mary Magdalene went to the grave to anoint the body of Christ on that first Easter Sunday morning, she saw the resurrected Christ instead. In her amazement and joy she held on to Christ and would not let go, and Christ said to her, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father, Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father…….” (John 20:17, NIV). In this quotation we can see two important principles which have to do with “life” and “ministry.”


  1. Temporal Abandonment brings Eternal Possession – The original meaning of “holding on” is to cling onto or hold on tightly. Christ had promised his disciples before the Passion that after his departure the Father would give them another Counselor to be with them forever (John 14:16); and that after his Ascension the coming of the Holy Spirit would give them strength to do even greater things (John 14:12). Therefore, the real meaning of what Christ said to Mary is: even though I am now risen, I will only be with you temporarily; and after my ascension the Holy Spirit will come and indwell all those who belong to him, through whom I and my Father will also make our home with them (John 14:23).


In order to gain in spiritual life there must be abandonments, just like Christ who temporarily gave up his glory, became man, was crucified, and eventually was given the name that is above all names (Phil. 2:6-10). Christians must likewise “deny” themselves, i.e. to abandon their old life, in order to gain the abundant new life (Mark 8:34-37).


The Bible tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1). Matthew gave up his profitable career as a tax collector for the Lord and became a writer of the Gospel; and likewise thousands of people have gained eternal blessings when they gave up temporal matters. The more they gave up for the Lord, the more they have gained. Therefore, the principle of “life” is to give up the temporal in order to receive the eternal.


  1. Presence of the Resurrected Lord brings Motivation for Witnessing – When Mary saw the risen Lord she was sent out immediately to witness for him, which is the principle of “ministry.” Seeing the risen Lord naturally brings the motivation for witnessing. Before the Lord was risen, the disciples were discouraged, depressed and considered returning to the old fishing life, which seemed to be the only way out at the


time; but after the risen Lord appeared to them, they were full of awe and strength and spread the Gospel. Likewise, one who serves the Lord must also experience the presence of the risen Lord everyday in order to serve effectively.


The apostle Paul’s life was changed when he saw the risen Lord on his way to Damascus, and began to seek “to know. Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10).


It was also a reminder in what the Lord said to Mary: do not only enjoy his presence but to go and tell this message of the resurrection. When Peter saw the transfigured Lord on the high mountain his instinct was to suggest the building of shelters; but the Lord took him down the mountain immediately. This motivation of “go” and “tell” must be brought about by the worship in the church in order to glorify the Lord’s name. However, any “going” without the experience of the presence of the risen Lord is a failing “ministry.”




The abandonment and possession in spiritual life and the motivation for witnessing brought about by the risen Lord formulate the theological implications of the Resurrection. Theological education likewise should aim for these two goals. There are many fine examples in the Bible on the “abandonment for God” for us to follow. Anyone who refuses to “give up” or seek his own advantages will never be effective for God.


Theological education should emphasize the importance of evangelism and the students’ lifetime commitment to it. The early apostles risked their lives to spread the Gospel simply because they saw the risen Lord and were strengthened by the indwelling Holy Spirit an evidence of the presence of the living Christ! And if today’s theological students would only have biblical knowledge but not the presence of the risen Lord, then they could not be expected to have the vision and burden for evangelism; they would obviously become those “those who deal with the law and did not know me” (Jer. 2:8).