Of course, it is what we celebrate at Easter. The raising of a body. The body of Jesus Christ. But is it?
At Easter its not a resuscitation that we celebrate. Its not like one of those zombie movies where the person looks exactly the same (except maybe for the dead looking eyes!).
The resurrection is something else. It is God’s yes to the ministry and life of Jesus. And the body that he is raised with is that of a new body. The Christian doctrine of the resurrection isn’t that we are just given the same body but a little better – the new for old trick played on Aladdin. It’s that the new body will reflect heaven itself.
This is important. The raising of Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus were not of the same type or order as that of Jesus. They were brought back to life. They had the same bodies and continued the same life and eventually died.
The church has always seen the resurrection of Jesus is something completely new and different. In Jesus we have the first fruits. The first person to be so transformed.
As Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians:
But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.
What Paul is getting at here is that the resurrection will be a body that reflects the glory of the life to come and not merely a transposition from this body now to a new one that is just nicer (all the wrinkles gone, the blond hair back, etc etc). So its interesting that the disciples on the road to Emmaus at the end of Luke’s Gospel don’t recognise Jesus until he breaks the bread at the meal. An action that makes them see him for who he is.
They then see that this Jesus has been raised and given the new life to come. But his body is that not of a resuscitated body its not even of a raised body. Rather its a new body, a transformed body, a glorious one.
So God doesn’t raise Jesus’ body from the dead.
He transforms it and raises Jesus from the dead to give him life.
The first fruits.
With us to follow.
And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven (1 Cor 15:49)