A friend of mine asked me the question, “Do you believe that Jesus was resurrected in body as we understand body?” My first reaction is to ask, does it truly matter if Jesus the Christ was resurrected in body? What do we mean by body? Body can mean many things. We can define body as the collection of all creation. We can define body as this bag of flesh that is typing this post.
Then I feel a little dirty, cause Jesus matters. Jesus is the savior, reconciler, redeemer, and brothered-one to creation. If Jesus did not matter than all that grace, forgiveness, and mercy mumbo jumbo in the Gospels is false and should be burned. No matter who, where, or what you are at, Jesus matters. But I think there are more smoke and mirrors present here than is witnessed at first glance.
I get stuck on the “as we understand body” part. I am certain that we fail to receive the full glory of God. I do not believe that we are capable of witnessing the full glory of God. We are blessed with momentary, fleeting moments of glory in grace, mercy, compassion that is inexhaustible. How this is directly related to the resurrected “Body” of Jesus I am not fully certain about.
I know that the Apostles Creed proclaims, “The third day He arose again from the dead.” The Nicene Creed offers us, “He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again.” The Westminster Confession Chapter 8 section 4 says, “This office the Lord Jesus did most willingly undertake, which, that he might discharge, he was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfill it; endured most grievous torments immediately in his soul, and most painful sufferings in his body; was crucified and died; was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption. On the third day he arose from the dead, with the same body in which he suffered; with which also he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father, making intercession; and shall return to judge men and angels, at the end of the world.”
The Scots Confession in Chapters 9-10 say, “…That our Lord Jesus offered himself a voluntary sacrifice unto his Father for us, that he suffered contradiction of sinners, that he was wounded and plagued for our transgressions…that he suffered not only the cruel death of the cross…also that he suffered for a season the wrath of his Father which sinners had deserved… even in the midst of his anguish and torment which he suffered in body and soul to make full atonement for the sins of his people…it was impossible that the sorrows of death should retain in bondage the Author of life, that our Lord Jesus crucified, dead, and buried, who descended into hell, did rise again for our justification, and the destruction of him who was the author of death, and brought life again to us who were subject to death and its bondage. We know that his resurrection was confirmed by the testimony of his enemies…”
All this means that there was a debt to be paid to God for the transgression of sin. That Jesus resurrecting in Body is important to that. I remember once in class a professor that I love say, “I am not afraid of death. It is the resurrection that terrifies me! If you are not afraid of what resurrection looks like and does than you have a problem.” That stuck with me.
In life Jesus rearranged power systems to include the marginalized and call the wicked to compassion. In death Jesus continues this mode by resurrecting bodily, this is the grandest move in proclaiming that Jesus the Christ moved Creator and creation to a transformed state. Death, where is thy sting?
I believe that something happened on a cosmic scale the day Jesus died. I have no idea exactly what happened. I believe that it goes beyond the human capacity to comprehend that day. In that I am convicted that Jesus resurrecting Bodily is important as it proclaims a violent revolution of the ultimate status quo…death.