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Resurrection! – Jesus was Physically Resurrected

June 16, 2009

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 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.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. (Luke 24:36-43)

The physical resurrection of Jesus is constantly under attack by the culture and the media because it is central to the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul understood this when he said, “If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (1st Cor. 15:32). Even worse, there are aberrant Christians as well as cultists who claim that Jesus was not physically resurrected. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses say that Jesus was raised to life in a spirit body.

Evidence from Scripture

When Jewish leaders asked for a miraculous sign, Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:19). Scripture confirms that the temple Jesus was referring to raising was his body (John 2:19-21). Peter declared on the day of Pentecost that Jesus “was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.” (Acts 2:29-32) John was equally emphatic in 1st John 1:1 “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.” The bodily resurrection of Jesus is so central to the Christian faith that the Bible is replete with similar references to the Physical resurrection of Jesus.

Confessions of the Church

The numerous confessions of early Christians also support the physical resurrection of Jesus. Justin Martyr rebuked those who claimed that Jesus was only spiritually resurrected. He also said, “The resurrection is a resurrection of the flesh which dies.” Cyril of Jerusalem said, “Let no heretic ever persuade thee to speak evil of Resurrection. For to this day the Manichees say, that the resurrection of the Saviour was phantom-wise, and not real.” In the fourth century, Augustine wrote, “Already both the learned and the unlearned have believed in the resurrection of the Flesh and its ascension to the heavenly places.” Likewise, Thomas Aquinas condemns those who “have not believed in the resurrection of the body, and have strained to twist the Holy Scripture to mean a spiritual resurrection.” Christians have also codified their confessions. For example, the Belgic Confession states, “our Lord Jesus Christ will come from heaven, corporally and visibly, as he ascended with great glory and majesty.” Similarly, in the Westminster Confession we read that Christ “was crucified, and died; was buried and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption. On the third day he rose from the dead, with the same body in which he suffered; with which he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father.”

Characteristics of Christ’s Body

Finally, the characteristics of Christ’s give testimony to the physicality of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus invited his disciples to examine his resurrected body so that they would know that it was the same body in which Jesus suffered. Jesus invited Thomas to “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.” (John 20:27) If Jesus had been resurrected in an immaterial body, the disciples could not have touched it and felt the crucifixion wounds that Jesus bore. Jesus also ate in their presence – evidence that he possessed a physical body. Before Jesus ascended, he ate with his disciples (Acts 1:4-9). Jesus testified convincingly to his owned bodily resurrection when he said, “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.” (Luke 24:39).

Was Christ physically resurrected? Absolutely!

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