Christ's resurrection was a bodily one

WCR Logo


April 28, 2014

Despite our faith, we still have a hard time making sense of Easter. What has happened to Christ's body that he can pass through walls, but still eat food? He is not a ghost, but neither is he a material being in the way that we understand matter.

Over the course of history, some heavy thinkers have been tempted to give up on Easter. The resurrection, some say, was not bodily; there was no empty tomb. The resurrection was more like a brilliant inspiration given from on high that helped Jesus' disciples make sense of the time they spent with him. It was a spiritual empowerment that spurred them to go forth and spread the Gospel.

If so, what was the good news that they were to spread? That we should be kind and loving? We didn't need the Son of God to die on a cross for us to know that. And, if that were the goal, we haven't done too well over the past 2,000 years.

No, the resurrection has to be a bodily, historical event for it to avoid falling into irrelevance.

Others would say that the whole time he was on earth, Jesus only appeared to be human. He was actually God who looked like a man. If that were so, again the resurrection means nothing for us. If Jesus was not truly human, then we have not been redeemed.

Conversely, perhaps Jesus was a man, no more divine than you or me. Or, perhaps he was a mediator, someone who emerged from a point midway between God and humanity. If so, the resurrection looked good on him, but it does nothing for us. If he were not the universal source of all being, the power of the resurrection could not have transformed others as it transformed him.

The resurrection, however, was a real, bodily event. As such, it is the central point of history. Jesus Christ, both fully divine and fully human, achieved the victory over death for all of humanity. That is the good news that transforms not only everything that comes after the resurrection, but also all that occurred before it.

As for the nature of Jesus' resurrected body, that is a mystery we will not fully understand until the end of days. What we do know is that the bodily Christ is now one with the Father and the Spirit. Our human nature has been divinized, and our destiny is one of profound hope. Our Eastertime is one for great rejoicing.