Saturday, March 31, 2018

Nature & Significance Of Christ’s Resurrection

            Resurrection is an act of rising from the dead. Several instances of the resurrection are mentioned in the Bible.

            Christ’s resurrection is much unlike the other resurrections mentioned in the Bible. If Christ was merely raised from the dead, HIS resurrection would have been similar to that of the other resurrections e.g. the resurrection of Lazarus. But Christ’s resurrection was more than a mere rising from the dead. Sean McDowell, Professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, differentiates Christ’s resurrection from the other resurrections mentioned in the Bible:1

1. Resurrection Is Not Immortality of the Soul. Greek philosophers saw the body as the prison house of the soul. The material world was considered corrupt, fallen, and evil. Thus, the goal of salvation was to escape the physical realm and to be freed from its shackles. But in Hebrew thought, the material world is considered good. The soul without the body is incomplete. A human being is a body and soul in unity.

2. Resurrection Is Not Reincarnation. Eastern religions teach reincarnation, the rebirth of the self (consciousness, soul, mind, etc.) after the death of the body…Depending on the specific tradition, the goal is to escape the cycle of reincarnation and experience nirvana or personal annihilation. In contrast, the biblical view is that human beings live one life, and then are raised to be judged by God (Hebrews 9:27).

3. Resurrection Is Not Resuscitation. …the Bible records many instances of people coming back to life. Elijah raised the widow’s son (1 Kings 17:17-24). Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-44). Peter raised Tabitha (Acts 9:36-42). And Paul raised Eutychus (Acts 20:9-12). But here is the difference between these people and Jesus: They would each die again, but Jesus was raised to immortality and glory.

4. Resurrection Is Not Translation. The Bible records at least two instances where people were taken directly to God without dying. Enoch lived 365 years and then was taken up directly to be with God (Genesis 5:21-24). The prophet Elijah was taken to heaven by a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:1). These are not examples of resurrection because there is no evidence either experienced death.

So, what is resurrection? …it is not a return to the present physical existence with all its limitations. Resurrected bodies are transformed, incorruptible, and eternal (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

Jesus was not resuscitated, reincarnated, or translated. And his soul did not escape to an immaterial realm. Jesus was resurrected—never to die again. And since Jesus is the firstfruits of those who are yet to come, if we trust in Christ, we too will one day have transformed, resurrected bodies and be able to experience eternity with Christ and the Church in the New Heavens and New Earth (Revelation 21-22). (Emphasis Mine).

            A complexity needs to be resolved when we discuss the Lord’s resurrection. Christ’s resurrection was rather unique in the sense that HE possessed a glorified resurrected body with material properties. (A fully glorified body will not contain any material properties.)

            The post-resurrection appearance of Christ to HIS disciples (more specifically to Thomas) indicates Christ’s possession of a glorified body with material properties. Christ’s disciples embraced HIS feet when HE appeared to them after HIS resurrection (Matthew 28:9). In another instance, Christ appealed to HIS disciples to see and feel the presence of the nail marks and the spear wound in HIS body, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord…Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”” (John 20:19-20, 24-27, NIV, Emphasis Mine).

            But Christ’s body was not a completely material body after HIS resurrection. It was a glorified body albeit with material properties.

            Christ appeared to HIS disciples while they were behind locked doors. So Christ may have either walked right through the locked door or HE may have walked through the walls of that house. This suggests that Christ possessed a glorified body that transcended the normal laws of physical existence.

            Why was Christ’s body not a fully glorified body even after HIS resurrection? We can resolve this complexity by bearing in mind that Christ’s resurrection and ascension were two separate events. For instance, when we, the believers of Christ, resurrect, our bodies will be transformed into a fully glorified body in one step.

            However, since Christ’s resurrection and ascension were two separate events, it is quite plausible that Christ attained HIS glorified body in a two-step process i.e. a glorified body with material properties after the resurrection and a totally glorified body sans material properties either before or during ascension.

            Christ’s resurrected body was yet to undergo a complete transformation to a glorified body prior to HIS ascension (and become the “spiritual body” that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 15:44). This was necessary since Christ’s glorified body with material properties helped erase HIS disciples’ doubts as well.

            This may have been a reason as to why Christ’s body was not a fully glorified body prior to HIS ascension. Therefore, to reiterate, Christ would have attained a fully glorified body either before or during HIS ascension.

            It is also quite plausible that Christ’s glorified body had material properties to indicate that Christ’s resurrection was a physical and a bodily resurrection and not a spiritual resurrection as some detractors of Historic Christianity may contend.  

            What is the significance of Christ’s resurrection?

            Christianity is relevant only because Christ resurrected. Christ’s resurrection was so significant that had Christ not resurrected, Christianity would be irrelevant. Apostle Paul emphasized that Christianity would be useless if Christ did not resurrect, “…if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Corinthians 15:14, NIV).

            Christ’s resurrection is very important because it symbolized a total victory over death. Since the wages of sin is death (Romans 6: 23), overcoming death through resurrection or death’s inability to hold Christ signified a complete annihilation of death and the forces of evil.

            Christ resurrected to judge the living and the dead. Christ’s resurrection is not merely significant to Christians, but it is of utmost significance to the non-Christians as well. Judgment of everyone who’s been in existence is intricately linked with Christ’s resurrection.

            Christ was raised from the dead to judge the living and the dead, “For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31, NIV cf. 2 Timothy 4:1).

            Those who believe in Christ have the incomparably great power. Christ’s resurrection ensures that we, who believe in Christ, have this incomparably great power that God used to raise Christ from death (Ephesians 1:19-20). This new resurrection power is for us to gain greater victories over sin and the forces of evil so that our ministry in HIS vineyard is according to HIS will and power.  

            Since Christ was raised from the dead, we too shall be raised from the dead. So may we continue doing the Lord’s work in faith that we and those whom we, by the grace of God, bring into God’s Kingdom will be raised from the dead to live with HIM forever.

            The Lord’s risen and HE is risen indeed! Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household (Acts 16:31, RSV).


1, last accessed on 31st March 2018. 

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