I love this season in the Christian calendar – The Easter season – with all these wonderful accounts of Jesus appearing to His disciples. It’s well worth reading the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection appearances, they are so encouraging and uplifting, particularly as we cope with Covid-19. These resurrection appearances of Jesus are the opposite of this time, so do read them; they are so uplifting as they point us to the only one who is the source of all life, hope and love.
Acts 1:3 gives the impression that Jesus had several live encounters with the disciples – “After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.”
In many of the accounts of Jesus’ resurrection, people who saw Him had a difficult time recognising Him. Mary thought Jesus was the gardener (John 20:14 – 15) before He spoke her name (John 20:16). The disciples on the road to Emmaus did not realise they were talking to Jesus (Luke 24:15 – 16). The disciples had difficulty recognising Jesus on the shore (John 21:4). In these resurrection accounts, all of the people ultimately do recognise Jesus. Yet there is something that makes His appearance different than it was before His arrest and crucifixion.
As we seek to understand our own resurrection in Christ, it’s important for us also to appreciate the new quality of His re-emergence, because Jesus’ resurrection was experienced by His Disciples as something far beyond the resuscitation of a corpse. Rather, Jesus had taken up a wholly new and transformed humanity that was beyond anything they could fully describe or had ever experienced.
But what about us today?
The ultimate hope of all believers is not heaven, but the new heaven and new earth, of which Jesus emphatically says, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5). Was he eluding to this in John 14 when he said he was going ahead to prepare a room for His disciples? – just a thought. The essence of the word “new” in that phrase from Revelation 21 is not “different,” or “new” in terms of time, but rather “new” in terms of QUALITY. One day Jesus will make all things that do exist new or better, fuller, more complete; this is certainly resurrection language.
In other words, the ultimate hope of the believer is the resurrection—when God will do for us and for all creation what He did for Jesus on Easter Day. The resurrected Jesus was still the same Jesus who had lived for more than thirty-three years and worked among the disciples for more than three years, but He was changed — He was “new,” He was more, He was resurrected.
Paul gives us an exciting glimpse of this coming reality (1 Corinthians 15:42–44; 49–54). These are such amazing life affirming words of Paul that it is worth spending a little time looking at them.
In these words, Paul discusses what our resurrected bodies will be like. If you could select your own body, what kind would you choose: strong, athletic, beautiful? Paul explains that we will be recognised in our resurrected bodies, yet they will be better than we can imagine, for they will be made to live for ever! We will still have our own personalities and individualities, but these will be perfected through Christ’s work. The Bible does not reveal everything that our resurrected bodies will be able to do, but we know they will be perfect, without sickness or disease (see Philippians 3:21).
This time is showing us that our present bodies are perishable and prone to decay. However, Jesus shows us that our resurrection bodies will be transformed. These spiritual bodies will not be limited by the laws of nature. I do not believe that this will mean that we will be super people, but our bodies will be different from, and more capable than our present earthly bodies because we will become spiritual bodies, and these spiritual bodies will not be weak, will never get sick, and will never die.
We all face limitations. In one way or another we all have physical, mental, emotional disabilities. However, Jesus spoke how the blind will see life in a new way, how the deaf will hear God’s Good News, and how the lame will be able to walk in God’s love. As Jesus spoke such words we, His followers, should have the encouragement that any disabilities we may have are only temporary, for Paul tells us that we all will be given new bodies when Christ returns and that these bodies will be without disabilities, never to die or become sick. This can give us hope in our suffering.
Satan may have seemed to be victorious in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) and at the cross of Jesus. but God turned Satan’s apparent victory into defeat when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. (Colossians 2:.15; Hebrews 2:14, 15), Thus death is no longer a source of dread or fear. Christ overcame it, and one day we will also. The law will no longer make sinners out of us who cannot keep it. Death has been defeated, and we have a glorious life beyond the grave.
This all goes to show that God’s plans for His people in Christ are so good! The sure hope that we as believers have is that, one day, the whole creation will be made new, and all will be made right. As this happens, God himself will dwell among us His people, and He will wipe every tear from our eyes. More than that, there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). All because Christ is the resurrection and the life.
In the new heaven and new earth, Jesus will reign fully and forever, and everything will be as it should be. There will be no sin and no possibility of sin, and believers will finally live the lives God had designed them to live from the beginning of time.
For reflection: As you think back on the glorious resurrection of Christ, let it be a reminder to look forward to our future resurrection in Christ.
Based on a sermon from 19th April 2020, 2nd Sunday after Easter