The apostle John acknowledged that “what we will be has not yet appeared” (1 John 3:2a). We are told that there will be a resurrection of the dead and God’s Word extends many promises about life after death. But the grave is like a thick veil and we are not able to see beyond it. But John goes on to say, “but we know that when [Christ] appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2b). Elsewhere we read that Jesus is the “firstfruits” – the first portion of a great harvest that is coming (1 Corinthians 15:23). So if we want to understand what is in store for believers, we would do well to consider the pattern of the resurrected Jesus:
- Jesus’ body was physical. The Bible is clear that Jesus was able to be touched. And during several of his resurrection appearances he ate food. He was not a ghost. It was not simply a spiritual resurrection. And in the same way, believers can expect a physical resurrection. The Bible does not teach that Christians will float around on the clouds. The great hope of our faith is not simply that our spirit will live on but that death is defeated. The bodies of those who have died will be raised from the ground. The process of decay will be reversed.
- Jesus’ body was transformed. Jesus walked through walls and entered locked rooms. He appeared and disappeared in surprising ways. Our bodies will be transformed as well (1 Corinthians 15:44). Certainly when bodies of believers are raised, they will be free of disease and disability. They will not be subject to aging or death.
- Jesus’ body was recognizable. Jesus did not take on a new body. His original body was raised back to life. He still had the scars. His disciples knew that it was him. And believers too will receive back their same bodies. We will be able to recognize one another in the eternal state.
As we gather to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, let us give thanks and find encouragement in the many far-reaching implications of that great victory.
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