So great a hope

Thoughts by Paul D. Adams 

“We do not just got to heaven when we are raised from the dead; we are transformed (1 Cor. 15:35-58). Life after the resurrection takes place in a transformed community, where sin on longer exists. We live in a world so full of sin, including our own, that it is hard to appreciate how wonderful such an existence will be. Yet God assures us that he will make us like himself. It is not just where we are going that makes the hope so great, but who we will be when we get there.

Darrell Bock, Luke (The NIV Application Commentary), p. 521

Great words from Dr. Bock. I know Easter has come and gone but it’s never untimely to reflect on our eternal state (every pun intended). What will our heavenly existence be like? Philippians 3:20-21 says our resurrected bodies will be like Jesus’ resurrected body. “And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” At least this means that for us to learn more about our future, resurrected bodies, we must glean what we can about Jesus’ resurrected body. 1 Corinthians 15 has some important insights.

The resurrected body of Jesus was not entirely identical to his human body. 1 Cor. 15:42-44 lists four essential differences between an earthly body and a resurrected body. Where as the human body was 1) mortal, 2) dishonorable, 3) weak, and 4) fleshly/natural, the resurrected body is 1) immortal, 2) glorious, 3) powerful, and 4) spiritual.

God’s power did not merely resuscitate the body of Jesus from the dead, but transformed its very nature. Paul did not say Jesus was a bodily spirit, but had a “spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:44), i.e., a physical body suited for the spiritual realm of heaven and empowered with new capacities. The distinctions and features of the material and immaterial appearances of Jesus are astounding.

Material Immaterial
“They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.” Matt. 28:9 “he disappeared from their sight.” Lk. 24:31
“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them.” Lk. 24:15 “While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them” Lk. 24:36
“Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” Lk. 24:39 “when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them” Jn. 20:19
“and he took it and ate it in their presence” Lk 24:43 “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” Jn. 20:26
“When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.” Lk. 24:50-51 “He appeared to them over a period of forty days”
Acts 1:3
“After he said this, he showed them his hands and side.” Jn. 20:20 “God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen” Acts 10:40-41
“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.’” Jn. 20:27  N/A
“On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.’” Acts 1:4  N/A
“by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” Acts 10:41  N/A

Jesus’ post-resurrected state was not like his pre-incarnate state (without body), nor entirely like his incarnate state (fully human, albeit with spatial limitations), but profoundly transformed into a new physical existence with extended capabilities that did not include spatial/temporal limitations. I suspect that our constitutional makeup will include all of those features of the resurrected Jesus, but will continue to include spatial limitations.

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