With Easter coming up in a month or so, I wanted to take some time to look at the idea of resurrection and what that really means. I have already written about why I think we have good reason to believe Jesus’ resurrection is actually a historical event-something that happened in real life, in a certain city, to a certain man at a certain time. In this series of posts, I want to draw out the implications of the Easter events. In a sense, it is the “so what” of the Easter story. What is the real meaning of Jesus’ resurrection?
Before we can go there, though, we need to make sure we are all thinking similar things when we hear the word “resurrection”. We need to make sure we know what we are talking about when we talk about resurrection.
When thinking about the idea of resurrection, it might seem simple enough to just say something like “Jesus lived after he died”. Jesus lived on earth as a man for around 30 years. Then Jesus was crucified, dead and buried. Then he lived again. This is resurrection.
There’s only one problem with this. There were many religions in Jesus’ time that believed a person’s spirit lived on after a person died. To say that Jesus lived after he died would not be a unique claim. What makes resurrection unique is the claim that the life Jesus lived after he died took place in a body. Jesus’ resurrection was physical. Luke tells us in chapter 24 that Jesus ate after the resurrection. In John 20, Jesus invited Thomas to touch his hands and side, for Thomas to observe the wounds. Then, of course, there is the issue of the empty tomb. The body of Jesus isn’t there because it is up and walking around, alive again. There is a kind of continuity between Jesus’ old body and Jesus’ new resurrection body, yet they aren’t the same. But we will say more on that topic in a later post.
The distinctive claim of Christianity is that God became man in Jesus, lived a life of teaching, preaching and miracles, was crucified, dead and buried, and then lived again bodily after his death. This idea of life after death in a body is what we are talking about when we talk about resurrection.
In our next post, we will talk about the first implication of the resurrection, out of which flows all the other implications of the resurrection. Stay tuned!