Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"10 Things You Should Know about the Resurrection"

10 Things You Should Know about the Resurrection

I would quibble a little with number 2 on the list, "Belief in Jesus's physical resurrection is the defining doctrine of Christianity." I mean, he is definitely on target here, as I insisted in seminary class one day.

My quibble is certainly not with the assertion that resurrection is at the very core of Christian faith - and not just the resurrection of Jesus! - but with his words, "physical resurrection."

That is not how the New Testament describes what happened, for its strong implication is that Jesus's physically dead body of Friday evening was reanimated or resuscitated in the tomb and departed from it.

But there are no passages in the New Testament that say that. In fact, distinctly from it. In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul says carefully,
But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” ... The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
The women on that first Easter morning encountered the empty tomb, had no idea what happened to the body. To this day we still cannot explain what happened to the corpse. Jesus was raised bodily from death, but it seems that the same fleshly body that went into the tomb was not the very same body of the risen Lord.

After all, when Mary Magdalene saw Jesus, he had been transformed from a broken, bloody, ravaged and shattered corpse into glorified Risen Lord. Yet she did recognize him, though it took some prompting on his part.

When Mary talked with the risen Lord, she knew he was still Jesus. His identity continued from his life into his resurrection. But the embodiment of his resurrection, the Christ, was not the same as his embodiment as Jesus.

So resurrection is not simply the reanimation of a lifeless body. What happens to our earthly body seems to be unimportant. It would seem that identity, but not materiality carries over from this life to the resurrected life, but that is not easily grasped, as even Paul saw.

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