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  one who is striking at the root."
- Henry David Thoreau
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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.

Bodily Resurrection
Updated: 01/04/2020

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 these sentiments? 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 foolishness.

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. End of story! 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 profound 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: Principle 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.

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