by Rev. Dr. Daniel C. Wilburn
He has risen indeed!
A far cry from merely a non-physical “spiritual” rising, Jesus’ physical body actually rose from the dead. Jesus was NOT just resuscitated like his friend Lazarus. No, Jesus took up his life again in a new re-created body (Jn. 10:17). He still had his wounds (Jn. 20:27). Yet his wounds seem to cause no pain and certainly were not fatal any longer. What kind of body did Jesus have? We cannot truly say: it was still his same flesh even though some thought he was a ghost (Lk. 24:39); but Luke uses this moment to demonstrate Jesus’ real physical flesh and bone.
I am surprised how many Christians think Jesus rose only spiritually and that we too will float off to some far away place called heaven as disembodied spirits. Remember this: Jesus comes back to earth (Acts 1:11). He returns. Paul says we shall all be changed… the perishable becomes a new imperishable flesh (1 Cor. 15:42 Cf. v.52).
Some uninformed Christians think this earth will be swept away, burned up and gone. They are partly right – 2 Peter 2:10ff says the earth will be burned, but it is not a vanquishing fire, but rather a purifying fire – more like purifying gold, refining a precious metal. The world’s evil “amalgam and dross” must vaporized. “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and new earth, the home of the righteous” (2 Peter 2:13). Paul says that all of creation is waiting to be reborn (Romans 8:19-25). Things remain the same and yet they are new. There is “sameness” and “newness” together. There is “continuity and discontinuity.” Jesus was still Jesus – but he was different. He could eat fish and yet appear in the upper room (Lk. 24:42; and 36). Like Jesus’ body, the trees and mountains, even the mosquitoes and cockroaches will be remade! Our world will look familiar to us but it simply will not be the same. How else could Peter call this “new” place “home” (see the above quoted passage)?
Two points then: one, stop thinking that resurrection means “disembodied spirits going off to heaven.” The word “resurrection” does not mean that, never has. Two, we have work to do. Paul says that each one’s work will be tested as though with fire (1 Cor. 3:10-15). The wood hay or straw is consumed and worthless. Ah but the gold and costly stones remain. Somehow these “works” remain and are used in the kingdom of Jesus here on the new remade earth. I have an idea that what remains will be not only the gospel proclaimed – evidenced by the resurrected people standing there! But I think our works of justice and love will remain. How often does Jesus or the massive witness of the prophets and the Psalms need to tell us the heart of g-d is with the poor and the oppressed? Righteous deeds are deeds done to make economics and politics RIGHT.
With Jesus’ resurrection the whole world changed. All of creation was notified that soon it will be remade (Col. 1:23). Likewise, the devil and evil has been put on notice. We are the victorious warriors – we, the church, are in charge! We’d do well to act and behave as though the resurrection is an actual historical event, a reality like the Apostle Paul thought about it (Phil. 3:7-11).
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
He has risen indeed!