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There is no valid basis for believing that anything changed about Jesus upon
his death and resurrection except that his work or role on earth was finished.
Resurrection and the Body
I have often heard from non-believers, when the issue comes
up, that it is just too hard to believe in a resurrection; it is just a bridge
too far, too incredible, too fantastic. Who can argue with this sentiment?
It is something that we never experience, and we never even come into
contact with anybody that has witnessed it much less a resurrected person.
On the other hand, what is the point in believing any miracle? What is the
point of even considering or talking about God if we are going to close the
door to all extra-normal phenomena or experience? We all generally want
immortality, and short of that we want to be resurrected to live again.
There is no valid or legitimate middle ground of believing that is not just
Also, when it comes right down to it, the only reason for taking Jesus
seriously at all is because of the resurrection. Not only would he be
irrelevant but if Jesus had not been
resurrected he would certainly have been lost in the dustbin of history
and we would never have heard of him. He would have gotten at most exactly the
same press as he did in Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews, one short
paragraph. The whole Christian movement would not have taken place
because no one would have taken him seriously, he would have just been
another wild-eyed messenger-reformer who did and said some marvelous and
mysterious things and then died. His close followers, including the twelve
disciples, would have remained confused, disenchanted, discouraged,
devastated, just the way they WERE between the crucifixion and the
resurrection. They would have shut down, gone back to their earthly
occupations and tried very hard to forget the whole painful, disappointing experience.
Modern Scholarship versus the Resurrection
What is also somewhat germane is that modern scholars,
including agnostics and non-believing skeptics, are now accepting the
credibility of the resurrection. Professor Gary Habermas assures us that
this is the case, because a closer look at the half dozen[*]
or so Pauline epistles in the New Testament that are universally recognized
as authentic writings of Paul show them to be persuasive concerning the
resurrection. And in the context of two ancient sources being considered to
be enough for reliability of whatever event is being addressed, Hebermas
says it seems that we have ELEVEN sources that attest to the resurrection.
Of course, this new thinking is on top of all the other
previous thinking that supports the resurrection. You do NOT have to believe
in either the Pauline Gospel or the one proposed on this site to do so. In
the absence of nothing much happening for the last 1300 years, it can always
be tempting to think that maybe God has given up or changed his mind, maybe
is even pouting, resentful, and angry.
No One Believed
His disciples were in total despair before Jesus came to the upper room.
Prior to that literally no one believed in him, that is, actually
believed all that he said when he was with them before the resurrection.
Not even John and Thomas believed what Jesus said, that is, believed
about God's purpose, plan and values the way Jesus portrayed them,
until they had the tangible proof of his resurrection. And then, even for
these two men, it seems that it took them years to properly understand what
had happened and the implications. As Luke 24:11
puts it, "But the story (of his resurrection) appeared to them to be
nonsense, and they would not believe them." Before he told Thomas "Bring
your finger here, and see my hands", Thomas was determined to not
believe and to just forget and try to move on..
A most important point of the resurrection, though, is that Jesus was
resurrected in a body, a body that was exactly like, exactly the same as
it was before he died, complete even with the scars or wounds of the
nails and sword. Jesus did not come back as some ethereal spirit,
ghostly entity, or apparition in the sky; he came back in a physical body that functioned
biologically just the way it did before, just like the normal human
being. This is demonstrated by his eating and drinking with them. This
is not to say that he had the "normal" limitations of human beings as we
know them; he obviously did not. On the other hand neither did he have these
limitations before he was crucified.
Another important point that is clear from the Gospel accounts is that
the resurrection of Jesus did NOT violate the principle of personal
continuity. He came out of the tomb EXACTLY as he went in, replete with the
wrappings and the wounds. See:
of Personal Continuity
Body is not
Restrictive of Empowerment
The fact that Jesus had a body did not get in the way of his performing
miracles, becoming invisible, walking through walls, etc. Apparently he could do
any and all of these things before he was crucified, and so this lack
of limitations did not change after the resurrection. There is no valid
basis for believing that anything changed about him except that his
work or role was finished.
The whole point of the resurrection and his showing up, in his "normal"
body, was to demonstrate that what God has in mind for us is to not only live
with or dwell in bodies, but to do so in ones that do not have the normal
limitations. So, our destiny is to have bodies. And why not?
Again, this is not to imply that in the realm of goodness, in the healed
reality, we cannot fix, alter, modify or improve our bodies to suit the
situation, ourselves and/or others. It's just that in the healed reality
we are going to show up in bodies. Of course, by the general definition
of a body, anything that does show up, and is perceivable, is a body.
Physicality was Ordained
There is a lot of misguided thinking out there that
physicality is not a good thing, that it is somehow a mistake, and
embracing having a body is limiting and disempowering. Jesus put the lie
to this thinking first of all by continually healing people of their
physical maladies even when that would interfere with his immediate
mission capability, and by his resurrection of others and himself. His
words of continued life—the Greek words used from the root zao mean biological functionality—and
these actions affirmed physicality as being part of God's plan.
[*] These would include Romans, Galatians,
Corinthians I &II, and Thessalonians I.