The Bodily Resurrection of Christ Defended
In the incarnation, God became a human being. His humanity was as genuine and authentic as every other humanís humanity. He had immaterial and material components to His existence. When God became man at the conception in Mary's womb, He took upon Himself an existence that He would never relinquish. Jesus' flesh was not merely a robe God clothed Himself in while on this earth, to be discarded when ascending to heaven. God's existence as a genuine human being in the person of Jesus Christ will never be relinquished. Jesus still possesses His physical body, but now it is in glorified form, dwelling in heaven (Acts 13:34; Colossians 2:9; I Peter3:21-22).1
Some would have us to believe that when Jesus rose from the dead, He came back as a spirit, no longer having a physical, tangible body. To hold to this view, however, is to deny the testimony of Scripture, and to bypass the entire purpose of the resurrection. Acts 13:34-35, 37, based on Psalm 16:10, declares that Jesus' body would not see corruption (decay). Acts 2:24 further declares that God raised up Jesus "having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it" (italics mine). We know that a spirit is eternal and can not die; therefore, this Scripture must be speaking of the only human element which can die; i.e. the body. There are many other Scriptures of this nature which speak of Jesus' resurrection from the dead, all of which speak along the same lines. They are focussing on His physical body being raised from the dead (See Acts 23:6; 25:19).
We know Jesus had a physical body upon resurrection because He could be touched (Matthew 28:9; John 20:27, 29); He Himself said He was a physical person and not a spirit (Luke 24:37-40); and He had the ability to eat (Luke 24:41-43; Acts 10:40-41). Although Jesus still retained His physical body, He had abilities not available to normal human beings. For example, on two occasions Jesus appeared to the disciples in the midst of a room without ever having come through a door (John 20:19; Luke 24:36). On another occasion He merely vanished before Cleopas' and another disciple's eyes (Luke 24:18, 31). He seems to have been released from at least some of the laws normal matter is subject to. Even Jesus' appearance was not always recognized (Matthew 24:16; Mark 16:12; John 20:14-15; 21:4,12). All of this demonstrates that indeed Jesus had a physical, but changed body.
Jesus' special abilities were not due too a lack of human flesh, but due to a different human flesh. Jesus' flesh had been glorified and was superceded by, and operated by higher laws so that He could not be bound to the same limitations of humanity as He was before He was glorified.
To hold the view that the resurrected Christ was merely a spirit not only denies the testimony of Scripture, but it also bypasses the very purpose of the resurrection. God made a covenant with David that He would establish his throne forever (II Samuel 7:12-16; Psalm 89:3-4, 20-37; 132:11; Jeremiah 33:22, 25-26). In Acts 2:30-32 Peter declared that Jesus was the king that is to reign on David's throne, referencing Godís promise to David that his seed (lineage) would sit upon the throne to rule (See II Timothy 2:8). By stating that it was Davidís "seed" who was to rule demands that Jesus have a physical, human existence because David was human. Jesus' body had to be resurrected so that He could physically sit on David's throne and rule with a rod of iron as the Scripture foretold, and as the Lord promised to David.
Jesus' physical resurrection was also necessary so that He could destroy the human problem of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2; I Corinthians 15:12-22--focussing of 17-22, 21-26, 55-56; Hebrews 2:14-18; I John 3:8; Revelation 1:18). After He rose from the dead, thereby conquering sin, death and the grave, He received the power and authority to raise all those who died having their faith in Him (Acts 26:23; I Corinthians 15:20, 23; I Thessalonians 4:14-17).
Our resurrection is based upon, and will pattern the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:11; Colossians 1:18; I Thessalonians 4:14-18; I Peter 1:3-5). The Scriptures declare that we will be raised in the same manner as was He. Not only will we ascend into heaven as He did, but we will also receive the same type of body as He received upon His resurrection (Acts 1:9-11; 26:23; I Corinthians 15:51-52; Philippians 3:21; I Thessalonians 4:16-17; I John 3:2). This means we will also have physical bodies throughout eternity (Romans 8:23; II Corinthians 5:1-8).
1. Colossians 2:9 tells us that the fullness of the Godhead still dwells in Him bodily. The Greek verb is in the present tense, indicating that the fulness of the Godhead was still dwelling in Christ when Paul wrote his epistle in AD 61. This was approximately thirty years after Jesus ascended into heaven, yet he claimed that Jesus still had a physical body. <back>
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