What Does Christ's Resurrection Teach Us?

You are here

What Does Christ's Resurrection Teach Us?

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25 John 11:25Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
American King James Version×
).

The apostle Paul tells us that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50 1 Corinthians 15:50Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.
American King James Version×
). So Christ’s resurrection to eternal life was to a glorified spirit body (Philippians 3:21 Philippians 3:21Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself.
American King James Version×
), of the same divine essence as the Father. Yet Christ’s resurrection appearances took a wonderful variety of forms. The Gospel accounts show us that no one recognized Him unless He wanted them to.

Mary of Magdala was the first person to see Jesus after His resurrection. John records that she went to Jesus’ tomb while it was still dark and realized that it was empty (John 20:1-2 John 20:1-2 1 The first day of the week comes Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, to the sepulcher, and sees the stone taken away from the sepulcher. 2 Then she runs, and comes to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him.
American King James Version×
). She immediately became anxious and despaired because she believed Christ’s body had been stolen.

Mary Magdalene’s remarkable experience

Mary went to tell Peter and John, who then rushed to the tomb. But the only things they found there were Christ’s burial wrappings. When God resurrected Jesus to spirit life, He apparently passed right through them as though they were not there.

We pick up the account in John 20:14 John 20:14And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
American King James Version×
: “She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.” Mary Magdalene did not recognize someone she knew well. She assumed He was the gardener. What followed next was a startling recognition.

“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is to say, Teacher)” (John 20:16 John 20:16Jesus said to her, Mary. She turned herself, and said to him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
American King James Version×
). The impossible dream came true—the unbelievable had happened!

This particular moment of recognition is perhaps unsurpassed in all of history. A weeping, distraught woman who thinks everything is lost suddenly realizes Her Savior is alive and well and standing before her! The wave of emotion that swept over her must have been indescribable. Jesus simply addressed her in the same way He had so many times before while He was still a human being.

Most of us have had the experience of unexpectedly seeing someone we know well whom we have not seen for a long time. The emotion we experience is difficult to adequately describe. But imagine if it were a loved one over whose brutal death we had just been mourning!

And much more than that, this woman—out of whom Jesus had cast seven demons—was the first human being in history to see the resurrected Christ in person and recognize who He was. What an honor!

But why her? Perhaps it was because she trusted in and was devoted to Jesus in a way that few human beings have ever been. She was also always demonstrably grateful for what Christ had done. Before her incredible healing, her life must have been one of sheer torment.

Christ’s resurrection body

The resurrected Jesus passed right through thick walls and could suddenly appear and then vanish at will (Luke 24:31 Luke 24:31And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
American King James Version×
; Mark 16:12 Mark 16:12After that he appeared in another form to two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.
American King James Version×
). Some argue that Christ’s resurrected body was the same physical body that had died, equating these abilities with His miraculously walking on water while human. The Bible, however, assures us that Jesus was now again spirit, as He had been before in heaven with the Father (John 17:5 John 17:5And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.
American King James Version×
)—unhindered by the limitations of physical human beings.

Paul explicitly states that, although “the first man Adam became a living being … made of dust” (1 Corinthians 15:45-47 1 Corinthians 15:45-47 45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46 However, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47 The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.
American King James Version×
), “the last Adam [Jesus] became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45 1 Corinthians 15:45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
American King James Version×
).

Indeed, He was once again “the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity” with the Father (Isaiah 57:15 Isaiah 57:15For thus said the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
American King James Version×
). So how do we explain the variety of humanlike post-resurrection appearances recorded in the Scriptures? Let’s read and study a few.

Later in Christ’s conversation with Mary Magdalene in John 20:17 John 20:17Jesus said to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brothers, and say to them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
American King James Version×
, He said, “Do not cling to Me [‘Touch me not,’ KJV], for I have not yet ascended to My Father.” Apparently Mary could have touched Jesus Christ as though He were any normal man. Obviously, Jesus appeared here in the form and shape of a normal human being.

That evening Christ appeared to a group of the original apostles. “He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20 John 20:20And when he had so said, he showed to them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD.
American King James Version×
). But Thomas was not there on that occasion, and he would not accept the word of the others.

When Jesus next appeared to them eight days later (John 20:26 John 20:26And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the middle, and said, Peace be to you.
American King James Version×
), Thomas was present. “Then He [Christ] said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’” Thomas’s reaction? “And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God’ ” (John 20:27-28 John 20:27-28 27 Then said he to Thomas, Reach here your finger, and behold my hands; and reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said to him, My LORD and my God.
American King James Version×
). Thomas now knew beyond a doubt that Jesus Christ was God!

It may have been these incredible occasions (and others like them) that prompted the apostle John to write in the opening words of his first letter, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched— this we proclaim concerning the Word of life” (1 John 1:1 1 John 1:1That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked on, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Remember, the Word became Jesus Christ (John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
American King James Version×
). Again, it may be that, in the verse just quoted, John had the resurrected Christ even more in mind than the earlier human Jesus.

Appearing in physical form

Later Christ appeared to them again. “After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself” (John 21:1 John 21:1After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself.
American King James Version×
). On this particular occasion He cooked breakfast for them (John 21:9 John 21:9As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
American King James Version×
) and afterwards told Peter three times to “feed My sheep” (John 21:17 John 21:17He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, Love you me? And he said to him, Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep.
American King James Version×
).

This chapter does not say whether Jesus ate breakfast with them, but other Gospel accounts show that He did eat after His resurrection. “They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence” (Luke 24:42-43 Luke 24:42-43 42 And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. 43 And he took it, and did eat before them.
American King James Version×
). Peter later affirmed Christ’s appearances to the apostles, “who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead” (Acts 10:41 Acts 10:41Not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.
American King James Version×
). And He will yet eat and drink with His newly born family at the great marriage supper after the resurrection of the faithful at His return (Matthew 26:29 Matthew 26:29But I say to you, I will not drink from now on of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
American King James Version×
).

Such passages have convinced many that Christ must still have His physical body. Yet it should be pointed out that in the Old Testament, long before the Word came in the flesh as Jesus, He, “the Lord,” appeared to Abraham in physical form and ate a meal with him (Genesis 18). It is obvious from these narratives, then, that God can manifest Himself in physical, tangible form. It is also clear that He can eat for celebration and enjoyment, though He does not need food and drink to sustain His eternal spirit life (John 5:26 John 5:26For as the Father has life in himself; so has he given to the Son to have life in himself;
American King James Version×
).

On the occasion when the risen Jesus ate with His disciples, He had stood in the midst of them and they were frightened because they “supposed they had seen a spirit” (Luke 24:37 Luke 24:37But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
American King James Version×
). Christ then said: “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have . When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet” (Luke 24:39-40 Luke 24:39-40 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet.
American King James Version×
).

Yet again, many contend that this proves Christ’s risen body was physical. But we’ve already seen from 1 Corinthians 15:45 1 Corinthians 15:45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
American King James Version×
that He was and is now spirit. The apparent contradiction is easily resolved when we consider why Jesus’ disciples were frightened. It seems likely that they initially thought He was an evil spirit, or demon, which evidently can’t assume physical form. In fact, this explanation is given in a letter attributed to the early church leader Ignatius of Antioch, written around A.D. 110 (Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 1:10). Christ, however, proved by His appearance in fleshly form that He was not a demon. It was really Him.

The apostles were to be witnesses of the resurrection and give proof of Jesus’ messiahship. Jesus made doubly sure they knew He had been resurrected to eternal life—and that it truly was Him, the same person they had been with for the last 3 1⁄2 years.

We cannot casually dismiss all these passages as having no significance in terms of the nature of God. We may not fully understand them, but these events occurred (John 20:30-31 John 20:30-31 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name.
American King James Version×
; John 21:24 John 21:24This is the disciple which testifies of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
American King James Version×
). We dare not limit God or what He can do. Again, we understand His nature and being through the Holy Scriptures— not through ancient philosophical concepts.

You might also be interested in...