Christ didn’t just die to redeem humankind. Yes, we are the head—the crowning work of his creation. But he also sacrificed himself to restore “the heavens and the earth” to an even far greater glory than the “first heavens and earth.” All of Christ’s creation is dear to him; he is committed to everything he has made.
The book of Revelation also witnesses to this reality. At the conclusion of the “day of the Lord” John sees “ ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea” (Rev. 21:1). This “new heaven and new earth” has to be birthed just like we need to be born again to become God’s new creation. And the price was already paid for this new birth through the cross when Jesus said, “It is finished!”
The event of the cross even foreshadowed the apocalyptic end of all things: “The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people” (Matt. 27:51b-53). This is a wonderful foretaste of the end when the earth will shake, the rocks split, and death will be conquered with the manifestation of resurrection life! We are still waiting for all that has been conceived on the cross to be consummated. Jesus died for much more than we are presently experiencing.
In light of all this it would be good for us to ponder Paul’s unique insight on creation and this present age:
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to this present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Rom. 8:18-26, TNIV)
It was our fall that brought the creation into bondage to decay, into degeneration. Yet, in God’s wisdom it is our salvation that will bring creation into true liberation from decay. Just as we had to be born again, creation itself needs to be born from above. This birthing will mean pain, the same type of groaning that every woman goes through in childbirth. We too are groaning, not just for creation, but also for ourselves, because even though our spirits are alive, our bodies are still subject to death. We hope and look forward to the redemption of our bodies, the fullness of our salvation—the fullness of what Christ did on the cross. Even though we are groaning we still have a responsibility to intercede, to give birth to the “new heavens and new earth” that we subjected to bondage and decay.
Prayer: O Father, you have given me your Spirit, the Spirit that longs for redemption and your full salvation. You will not be satisfied to all heaven and earth is swept up into your glory. Today, may your Spirit intercede through me. Let me not be desensitized to the groanings of your Spirit.