He is Risen! And one day believers in Jesus Christ will also be raised from the dead.
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44
That incredible truth can be difficult to get our minds around. We don’t know much about what our resurrection bodies will be like, but it’s captivating to learn what we can and to imagine the rest.
All we have to go on are the accounts of Jesus’s resurrected body. There are eighty-nine chapters in the four gospels, and only five of them cover Jesus’s post-resurrection appearances.
Matthew gives us two interactions between the risen Savior and his followers; a greeting at the grave and the Great Commission, and Mark, after telling of two encounters emphasizing the disciples’ unbelief, gives us his version of the Great Commission. Luke tells us of Jesus’s appearance to the disciples and of his conversation with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27) Fascinating.
The Gospel of John relates the most of Jesus’s post resurrection appearances. He tells Mary Magdalene not to hold on to him (John 20:15-18), he appears to his disciples and gave them the Holy Spirit (John 20:19-23), a week later he came to Thomas, who hadn’t believed that Jesus was alive (John 20:24-29), and Jesus made his disciples breakfast on the Sea of Tiberias and reinstated Peter (John 21).
We’re also given a list of appearances in 1 Corinthians 15:5-6; to Peter, the twelve apostles, James, Paul, and finally we’re told that Jesus had appeared to more than five hundred believers at the same time, which many scholars believe is the same scenario described in Matthew 28.
There were apparently other conversations with the disciples that were not recorded for us. Acts 1:3 says, “He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”
Wouldn’t you love to know what Jesus told his disciples? I would.
It appears that people didn’t recognize Jesus at times. Mary Magdalene thought he was a gardener until Jesus said her name. The two walkers from Emmaus didn’t identify Jesus until after he had given them a complete prophetic history of his life and he had broken bread with them, then they saw him for who he was. They were amazed, and said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)
Perhaps he wasn’t recognized because no one expected Jesus to be alive or maybe his resurrection body looked different, but he still had the scars of the crucifixion and offered them as proof that he was Jesus. (John 20:25-27) Sometimes it seems that he was recognized, but it was a bit of a hint when doors were no longer necessary and he miraculously appeared in rooms with the disciples. (John 20:19-23) The resurrected Jesus made it a point to eat physical food, but was beyond the limitations of human existence. He could appear and disappear at will.
We may want to know what our future resurrection life looks like, but the Bible gives us just enough to know that Jesus was definitely raised from the dead, many people witnessed that he was alive, and he made a number of appearances. Exactly what the differences are between his resurrected body and his earthly body remain largely a mystery. I trust that it will be beyond anything that we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
So what are we to do now? At the beginning of Acts, Jesus ascended into heaven with some final instructions, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit and wants us to be his witnesses. Maybe we’re more effective witnesses when we live by faith, when we don’t know the details of what our resurrection life will be like, and when there is infinitely more that we do not know than that which we do know.
It is intriguing to wonder what our resurrected lives will be like. I wonder if that is why the disciples stood there for a while looking up at the sky after Jesus was no longer viisible, when “two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10-11)
I guess we won’t know what our resurrection bodies will be like until then.
Do you ever wonder about your future resurrection life?