From N.T. Wright's "Surprised by Hope" (pg. 40)
The crucifixion of Jesus was the end of all their hopes. Nobody dreamed of saying, "Oh, that's all right-- he'll be back again in a few days." Nor did anybody say, "Well, at least he's now in Heaven with God." They were not looking for that sort of kingdom. After all, Jesus himself had taught them to pray that God's kingdom would come "on earth as in heaven." What they said -- and again this has the ring of first-century truth -- was, "We had hoped that he was the one who would redeem Israel" (Luke 24:21), with the implication, "but they crucified him, so he can't have been." The cross, we note, already had a symbolic meaning throughout the Roman world, long before it had a new one for the Christians. It meant: we Romans run this place, and if you get in our way we'll obliterate you -- and do it pretty nastily too. Crucifixion meant that the kingdom hadn't come, not that it had. Crucifixion of a would-be Messiah meant that he wasn't the Messiah, not that he was. When Jesus was crucified, every single disciple knew what it meant: we backed the wrong horse. The game is over. Whatever their expectations, and however Jesus had been trying to redefine those expectations, as far as they were concerned hope had crumbled into ashes. They knew they were lucky to escape with their own lives.
(and then from pg. 50)
We find the development of the very early belief that Jesus is Lord and that therefore Caesar is not. [...] Already in Paul the resurrection, both of Jesus and then in the future of his people, is the foundation of the Christian stance of allegiance to a different king, a different Lord. Death is the last weapon of the tyrant.
Resurrection is not the re-description of death; it is its overthrow and, with that, the overthrow of those whose power depends on it.
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