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Apr 5 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 4, 2021



As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit 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. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Luke 24:36-43

Intro: I suppose it’s okay to say “Happy Easter”

I’m not comfortable with this greeting, because “happy” seems frivolous and transient
– I doubt we could convince the world to say “Bless-ed Easter”
• or “Joyful Easter” – but at least we’ve got one thing right:
◦ this is a day to celebrate – and not only this day, but the weekend
◦ because there would be no Easter morning without Good Friday
• what makes Easter blessed? Joyful? A day to celebrate?
– one way to see it: Jesus entered a fight that wasn’t his
• we hear of communities in other places that are being hunted and killed
◦ we shake our heads and say, “How terrible,”
◦ but we don’t leave home, or even get off our comfortable sofa
“It’s not our fight”
• Jesus, however,
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Php. 2:6-8)
◦ he came and joined sides with those who were suffering
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (Heb. 2:14-15)
◦ Jesus not only fought this battle, but he won it–for us
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. . . . For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Cor. 15:20-26)
So–Joyous Easter!

In this brief post-resurrection scene, what is Jesus’ big concern?

He wants his disciples to be absolutely certain of his resurrection
– that he has returned to life – and that he is alive in his body
• they were not seeing a ghost or spirit
◦ if they reached out to touch him, as he invited them to do,
◦ their hands would not pass through him
• he was there and he was real
– now, in the typical manner of preachers, I will make three points

First, what we learn from this regarding Jesus’ resurrection body

The body in which Jesus presented himself was physical; flesh and bones
– this is what makes a human person, human
• Hebrew: humankind is ahdam, from adahmah, ground or soil
• English: human is derived from the same word as humus, soil
◦ as humans, we are material beings,
◦ made from the same stuff as our planet

Many years ago, I learned from one of my books on theology that there was a debate as to whether the human person could be defined as a dichotomy (two parts: body and spirit) or trichotomy (three parts: body, soul, and spirit). We are familiar with the -tomy part of these words, because it is derived from the Greek language and means to divide or cut. For instance, when surgeons cut an organ out of a person’s body, they are performing a tonsillectomy, or an appendectomy. However, there is no -tomy within a human being, there is no division of parts. Rather, we are atomic (in Greek, a=un and -tomy=cut, that is, uncut or undivided; namely, whole). There are dimensions of our holistic selves that are invisible to us–like the conscious self of the mind or the mental realm of thought, that we cannot see, but those are not separate parts of our person. So it is with the human spirit, that is so one with our physical self that if it goes our body goes too–no spirit, no life For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead (Jas. 2:26). As Genesis 2:7 says, when God breathed the breath of life into Adam, he did not then have a soul, but he became a living soul.

I cannot say this enough; from the beginning this was our destiny
– to be embodied, self-conscious and other-conscious organisms,
• living on a wonderfully beautiful, life-sustaining planet
• a living, human body is not a lesser or inferior life,
◦ and the earth is not an inferior habitation
– God made us for himself, as we are and in this created world
• this is what we are meant to be
• and this is where we’re meant to live
◦ and this is where he wants us to know him and walk with him

Theologians discuss the continuity and discontinuity of Jesus’ body before and after his resurrection
– that is, how was his body the same after his resurrection and how was it different
• it was the same in that he was flesh and bones
◦ his body still bore wounds of cross, he could be touched, he ate
• yet in some ways it was different
◦ which may be why some people had difficulty recognizing him (Lk. 24:16; Jn. 20:14)
◦ he could suddenly appear in a locked room (Jn. 20:19; Lk. 24:30-31)
– my belief is that Jesus’ resurrection body was physical, but more
• but there was a dimension added to his four-dimensional self
◦ unlike our bodies now, he was fully present in both heaven and earth
◦ in his body he participated in all dimensions of reality,
those that we know and that which for now no eyes has seen nor ear heard

Second, Jesus’ new body tells us something about our new bodies

Paul knew that he was fully known by God, but that he did not yet know God fully
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. . . . For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known (1 Cor. 13:9-12)
– our present bodies are in some way incomplete
• they are perfectly adequate for life in the world and for pleasing God
• but they are also limited, vulnerable, and fragile
◦ we get sick, we sustain injuries, we age, we weaken, and we die
◦ we know and experience only four dimensions of reality
– we are not separated from heaven by space or distance
• there is only a sheer curtain that shields our bodies from it
• our resurrection bodies will be like Jesus’ resurrection body
◦ and then the kingdom of God will no longer be invisible to us
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject all things to himself (Php. 3:20-21)

At this point, we usually turn to St. Paul
– he addressed our questions head-on
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (see 1 Cor. 15:35-49)
• Paul says the answers are right in front of us
◦ they don’t provide every detail, but they demonstrate how God works
1. We can draw an analogy from what we know about agriculture
◦ a seed goes into the ground and from it a plant grows
◦ so our bodies go into the ground, they rise up in a different form
2. We can draw an analogy from animal life
◦ not all flesh is the same
◦ so we can assume that our resurrection flesh will be different
3. We can draw an analogy from celestial bodies–the earth, moon, sun, and stars
◦ there are differences in glory, but all are glorious
– so in each example there are discontinuities between our bodies now and our resurrection bodies
• but as John Polkinghorne pointed out, the repetition of the word “body” reveals the continuity between our bodies now and then
◦ my body will still be my body, but transformed
• the way we move through death into life,
◦ is a move from the bodies we inherited from Adam
◦ into the new and improved bodies we will receive from Jesus
John Polkinghorne, “If this understanding of the nature of humanity is correct, then it follows that our destiny beyond death will also be to live in an embodied state. To suppose the contrary would be to settle for a less than human form of future hope. Of course, the life of the world to come will also have to be a transformed kind of bodily existence, if that life is to be everlasting and free from the shackles of mortality.”

When Jesus argued for the resurrection against the Sadducees, he said,
And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is not God of the dead, but of the living” (Mt. 22:31-32)
John Polkinghorne, “The logic is incontestable if one accepts that there is a God who is everlastingly steadfast and faithful. If the patriarchs mattered to God once—and they certainly did—then they must matter to God for ever. If we matter to God once—and we certainly do—then we must matter to God for ever.”

Third, our resurrection bodies tell us something about our current bodies

When Christianity was still in its infancy, it was threatened by a mystical philosophy
– those other teachers made a complete break between spirit and matter
• spirit was good, divine, pure, and the only way to reach God
• the physical universe was the opposite and totally separate from God
◦ the human body was worthless and did nothing other than get in the way
◦ some of this teaching seeped into the church (and in some places still lingers today, as in the dichotomy/trichotomy debate)
Ilia Deio’s observation regarding popular culture is true of those who would separate the spirit from the body as well as those who do not believe that there is a spirit-dimension to the body:
“Modern culture’s preoccupation with the physical body and the exploitation of the body as soulless matter reflects the deep human disconnect from self, neighbor, earth, and God.”
– you and I need to anchor ourselves in a biblical view of the body
• that it is gift, that we cannot separate it from our true self
• and we can honor God with and in our bodies by dedicating them to him
. . . do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
Arthur Vogel, “When we human beings begin to think and talk about God, the hardest thing for us to remember is that our bodies are an important aspect of our being and must not be neglected in our theology. After all, it is God who made us this way.”
Thomas Ryan tells us what the Incarnation (God becoming flesh) of Jesus means:
“God sent us a message: from now on, I am identified with this bodiliness, this fleshiness, this materiality, this sensuality, this worldliness, this passion.” “The stuff of material creation quite literally became the body of God. Henceforth, there is no basis for dismissing this world as some second-rate practice field for the real life in heaven. . . . Life in this word is already shot through with divinity, with the very life of God. . . . we have been gifted with this world and these bodies because this is where God dwells. . . . Human bodies are part of God’s image and the means through which absolutely everything we learn about God must come to us.”
– whatever we desire of our relations with God,
• we must work at it with our bodies
• how we structure its use of time, energy, and resources

Conclusion: There is a conversation with Jesus we all must have

It is the same conversation he had with Martha after her brother died
– when she told Jesus that Lazarus did not have to die, if only Jesus arrived had sooner
• Jesus told her, Your brother will rise again
• to which she replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day
– now here is the part of the conversation we need to have with Jesus:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (Jn. 11:25-26)

This is where the destiny of our bodies begins
Jesus tells you that he is the resurrection and the life,
that if you trust your life to him, even if you die, you will live again
And then looking into your eyes, he asks,
Do you believe this
Because trusting him for life today and forever,
is our hope that like him,
we will rise with new bodies,
“Built to last”–for eternity

With that, I wish you a Bless-ed Easter, a Joyful Easter–today and forever

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