The Resurrection of the Body
The bodily resurrection of Jesus is debated by certain biblical scholars and theologians. Today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke leaves little doubt, however:
While the disciples were talking about how they had seen Jesus risen from the dead, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. (Luke 24:36-42)
Christianity is not Eastern mysticism. It is not about the destruction of the self. It is not about being entrapped in a human form and trying to escape. Christianity is about the resurrection of the body and the soul. Jesus was raised up bodily. We will also be raised in bodily form along with Him, provided that we believe in Him. The Apostle Paul writes:
Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8:10-12)
Is His Spirit living in us? If we do not have the Holy Spirit then we do not have eternal life with God. The Spirit is Holy. We must live Holy. Without holiness no one will see God. We must lead righteous lives. Righteousness is not optional, even for Christian believers. Christian belief makes righteousness possible. The psalmist writes:
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it. (Psalm 118:19-20)
By His death and resurrection Jesus has open for us the gates of righteousness. We must walk through it and remain on the path. The Spirit will lead us into all truth, but we must follow the Spirit. Are we listening to that still, small voice dwelling within us?
We can be comforted to know that life does go on after death. We will have a body and we will be recognizable just as the risen Lord was to his disciples. We will eat and enjoy food. What will be different? We will be living in the everlasting presence and glory of God.
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The Lord Has Risen
All hope was lost. Their faith had been destroyed. Evil had triumphed. Suddenly, the Lord acted. Few, if any, were expecting good news. Suddenly, everything changed. Mary Magdalene had gone to the tomb. The body of Jesus was not there. Reading from John’s account:
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20:11-18)
No one believed Mary’s story. A new day had dawned. The world was about to change. The gates of heaven had been opened. All things were becoming new. Why such unbelief on the part of the disciples? They were not ready for change. Change is difficult for many of us to accept. Our minds have been conditioned to think a certain way and to believe only certain reinforced narratives. That is how the enemy works.
What had changed? God had chosen a woman to be the first witness to the resurrection of Jesus. Women could no longer be so easily dismissed as less important. The relationship Mary Magdalene had with Jesus had changed. She could no longer hold on to him as she had known him. Jesus told her: “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.” Her relationship with him needed to be changed. We need may to let go of our current understanding of Jesus in order to gain a deeper understanding of him. This was certainly true of Peter. Reading from the Book of Acts:
Peter began to speak to Cornelius and the other Gentiles: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:34-43)
This was a major shift for Peter. He had been taught by Jesus face to face, but even Peter had more to learn about the nature of God. God had opened the door of salvation for all peoples and nations. This was new for Peter. Are we open to new revelation today. He is about to do a new thing in our lives. Are we ready? The psalmist wrote:
Open for me the gates of righteousness;
I will enter them;
I will offer thanks to the Lord.
“This is the gate of the Lord;
he who is righteous may enter.”
I will give thanks to you, for you answered me
and have become my salvation.
The same stone which the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
This is the Lord‘s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
On this day the Lord has acted;
we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:19-24)
Are we holding on to the old? God is offering us a whole new world. He has opened the gates of righteousness for us. Resurrection Sunday can be our resurrection. Have we been waiting for the Lord to act? He has acted. We must act. We must enter into his gate. Jesus is that gate. He is our path. He is our new life.
The Prophet Isaiah spoke about this time:
It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (Isaiah 25:9)
How do we walk into the gates of righteousness:? How do we accept the whole new would that is opening up to us? Let us heed the words of the prophet:
On this day the Lord has acted;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Let us believe and rejoice. Let us:
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100:4-5)
Alleluia! The Lord is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
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A Child of the Light
Holy Week reminds us of the contrast between darkness and light. Darkness was all around Jesus but He continued to radiate the light and love of God. The message that He wanted to convey to His disciples was that they should choose the light over darkness:
Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” (John 12:35-36)
We have been called by Jesus to walk as children of the light. Young children are often open and trusting, particularly if they are raised in a loving environment. When we get older we become more aware of our shortcomings and we may be tempted to hide them. We may want others to see through us because we know that we are not altogether pure. The Pharisees made it a practice of diverting the gaze of others from them by compounding rules that others would not be able to keep. They created darkness to obscure that fact that they were not walking in the light themselves.
While we have Jesus we should walk in Him. He extends His hand to us but we must grasp it. Though He warned the Pharisees they would not listen. All anyone can do without Jesus is a coverup. Yet darkness is only a temporary covering. Ultimately, it is no solution at all. Why should we depend upon deception when we can depend upon the truth of God? The truth of God is that he loves us and our sin has been covered by the blood of Jesus.
God’s light does not come by our good deeds. Our light is a gift and a promise which God made through the Prophet Isaiah:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the survivors of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)
Jesus was and is that light. Are we will to walk with as children of the light? The psalmist wrote:
For you are my hope, O Lord God,
my confidence since I was young.
I have been sustained by you ever since I was born;
from my mother’s womb you have been my strength;
my praise shall be always of you.
I have become a portent to many;
but you are my refuge and my strength.
Let my mouth be full of your praise
and your glory all the day long. (Psalm 71:5-8)
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