Raising of bodies prohibited

Sign saying raising of bodies prohibitedGiven that we are coming up to Easter I thought I would share with you this great sign, originally published in the Telegraph.

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)

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3 comments on “Raising of bodies prohibited

  1. Rosie Edser
    April 15, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    Want to know more about all this resurrected body/heaven stuff.

    I mean how can you fill your kids with enthusiasm for eternity when we do;’t relaly discuss it much. Apart from ginger-haired Anne of Green Gables saying she’ll wear pink for a few millennia in heaven, there’s not much to go on except these tiny snippets, vague ideas that don’t involve harps or witing round on clouds in white and some extrapolated stuff and St Paul’s flesh waffle (you expained)in Corinthians.

    I don’t mean beign over literal minded like Jesus said there are many rooms in my father’s house.. so kids, what kind of duvet cover do you reckon will be in your room? Well actually kind of maybe as a fun exercise???

    I like that he could eat fish in his new body – oh but it still had the scars for Thomas to put his hands in. But then Mary Mag in the garden and the buddies on the Emmaus Rd didn’t recognise him.. until he spoke her name/ did the bread thing.. with his particular mannerisms.

    Hmm. Answers on a postcard please…

  2. Geoff C
    April 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    I really don’t know what to decide with this!
    On the one hand – if it were Jesus’ literal body raised – chances are that it might not look quite the same – with
    or without the divine intervention of the raising!
    Or
    If he had a replacement body – fashioned to represent the orig – then it is understandable that they may not have recognised hin until his personality/character became known by conversation and action.
    But this is a bit new to me – I never thought of it as him having a new body – just the old one tarted up a bit. I always thought it was supposed to be a man – the actual man as was and lived on earth that is supposed to be sat at the R/H of God.
    There again – and sorry about this – but I really don’t know what to make of the whole story anyway.

  3. Will Cookson
    April 16, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    I need to be a bit careful in how all this expressed. When I use the phrase “new body” I need to be very careful. I do not mean that there is a total discontinuity between the old and the new. A transformed body might be clearer. So Mary and the disciples recognised Jesus – the essence of him relationally AND physically were there.
    So, Rosie, you are absolutely right. We see his scars – they are covenental marks of his death and resurrection. A new body would imply that the old had no value and that certainly isn’t the Christian viewpoint. A transformed body is a better view.
    Of course related to it is the question would we know each other at the resurrection? I certainly believe that this would be so – although as with Jesus we might need to have a double-take or two since we will see people as they truly are.

    I’ve always had this belief that as people grow older that their characters show in them. Someone who is gentle and loving – it seems to radiate physically in them more and more.

    Geoff, the classic view of Jesus is that he takes his humanity into the godhead. That he is fully God and fully man. He takes his transformed body into God.

    So the body dies. Jesus dies and God raises Him from the dead – Paul says “listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet….. For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable”.

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