Devotional 10: Christ's Resurrected Body is the Model for Ours
(Excerpted from Trusting God Through Tears by Jehu Thomas Burton, pages 64-67)
(Excerpted from Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, pp.116-119.)
Not only do we know what our present bodies are like, we also have an example in Scripture of what a resurrection body is like. We're told a great deal about Christ's resurrected body, and we're told that our bodies will be like his.
"Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2, RSV)
Strangely, though Jesus in his resurrected body proclaimed, "I am not a ghost" (Luke 24:39, NLT), countless Christians think they will be ghosts in the eternal Heaven. I know this because I've talked with many of them. They think they'll be disembodied spirits, or wraiths. The magnificent, cosmos-shaking victory of Christ's resurrection -- by definition a physical triumph over physical death in a physical world -- escapes them. If Jesus had been a ghost, if we would be ghosts, then redemption wouldn't have been accomplished.
Jesus walked the earth in his resurrection body for forty days, showing us how we would live as resurrected human beings. In effect, he also demonstrated where we would live as resurrected human beings -- on Earth. Christ's resurrection body was suited for life on Earth, not primarily in the intermediate Heaven. As Jesus was raised to come back to live on Earth, so we will be raised to come back to live on Earth (1 Thessalonians 4:14; Revelation 21:1-3).
The risen Jesus walked and talked with two disciples on Emmaus road (Luke 24:13-35). They asked him questions; he taught them and guided them in their understanding of Scripture. They saw nothing different enough about him to tip them off to his identity until "their eyes were opened" (v. 31). This suggests that God had prevented them from recognizing Jesus earlier, which they otherwise would have. The point is that they didn't see anything amiss. They saw the resurrected Jesus as a normal, everyday human being. The soles of his feet didn't hover above the ground -- they walked on it. No one saw bread going down a transparent esophagus when he swallowed.
We know the resurrected Christ looked like a man because Mary called him "sir" when she assumed he was the gardener (John 20:15). Though at first she didn't recognize his voice, when he called her by name, she recognized him (v. 16). It was then that she "turned toward him." Because modest women didn't look male strangers in the eye, this phrase suggests that she hadn't gotten a good look at him before.
The times Jesus spent with his disciples after his resurrection were remarkably normal. Early one morning, he "stood on the shore" at a distance (John 21:4). He didn't hover or float -- or even walk on water, though he could have. He stood, then called to the disciples (v. 5). Obviously his voice sounded human, because it traveled across the water and the disciples didn't suspect it was anyone but a human. It apparently didn't sound like the deep, otherworldly voices that movies assign to God or angels.
Jesus had started a fire, and he was already cooking fish that he'd presumably caught himself. He cooked them, which means he didn't just snap his fingers and materialize a finished meal. He invited them to add their fish to his and said, "Come and have breakfast" (John 21:12).
In another appearance to the disciples, Christ's resurrection body seamlessly interacted with the disciples' mortal bodies (John 20:19-23). Nothing indicates that his clothes were strange or that there was a halo over his head. He drew close enough to breathe on them (v. 22).
On the other hand, though the doors were locked, Christ suddenly appeared in the room where the disciples were gathered (v. 19). Christ's body cold be touched and clung to and could consume food, yet it could apparently "materialize" as well. How is this possible? Could it be that a resurrection body is structured in such a way as to allow its molecules to pass through solid materials or to suddenly become visible or invisible? Though we know that Christ could do these things, we're not explicitly told we'll be able to. It may be that some aspects of his resurrection body are unique because of his divine nature.*
By observing the resurrected Christ, we learn not only about resurrected bodies but also about resurrected relationships. Christ communicates with his disciples and shows his love to them as a group and as individuals. He instructs them and entrusts a task to them (Acts 1:4-8). If you study his interactions with Mary Magdalene (John 20:10-18), Thomas (20:24-29), and Peter (21:15-22), you will see how similar they are to his interactions with these same people before he died. The fact that Jesus picked up his relationships where they'd left off is a foretaste of our own lives after we are resurrected. We will experience continuity between our current lives and our resurrected lives, with the same memories and relational histories.
Once we understand that Christ's resurrection is the prototype for the resurrection of mankind and the earth, we realize that Scripture has given us an interpretive precedent for approaching passages for approaching passages concerning human resurrection and life on the New Earth. Shouldn't we interpret passages alluding to resurrected people living on the New Earth as literally as those concerning Christ's resurrected life during the forty days he walked on the old Earth?
*Even if Christ's resurrection body has capabilities that ours won't, we know we'll still be able to stretch the capabilities of our perfected human bodies to their fullest, which will probably seem supernatural to us compared to what we've known.
Dear God, Today I lift up nurses in prayer. They have such an important role and special ministry! Nurses often work long hours, have great responsibilities, and experience stresses that the average person does not realize. I pray that You will give them emotional, physical, and spiritual strength to perform their duties well, to care for their patients in the ways the patients need care, to make wise and educated decisions, and to serve as an extension of Your love and healing power. I pray for Your anointing on them and their lives. I pray that people will see the light of Jesus shining in and through them, and that it will draw people to You. I pray for nurses' protection from all harm and evil. I pray for their protection from illness, disease, and disaster. I pray for sound minds, extra good critical thinking skills, good spirits, and the right words to say in all situations. I pray that Your love and power will flow through them to touch the lives of their patients, patient's families, and co-workers. I pray that they will lean on You for strength and for comfort, that they will come to You when concerns and problems weigh on their minds and hearts, and that You will be the answer and provider of all they need. I pray that You will provide relief when relief is needed. I pray You will bless nurses' families also, for the sacrifice they give. And I pray that people will appreciate nurses and all they do, and show that appreciation. I thank You for people who are willing to give of themselves in this way. Bless them, please. In Jesus' name, Amen.