The body matters. That God raised Jesus bodily from the dead says something powerful about the body. Jesus did not consist simply of spirit. What was important about Jesus was not simply spirit. Jesus was body, mind, and spirit. It all mattered, but without the body perhaps there was nothing worth keeping? Why else would God raise Jesus bodily from the dead?
The brothers in 2 Maccabees 7 who courageously faced execution at the cruel hands of Antiochus confidently asserted that the God whom they trusted would restore physicality to them post-post-mortem.
2Mac. 7:10 After him, the third was the victim of their sport. When it was demanded, he quickly put out his tongue and courageously stretched forth his hands, 11 and said nobly, “I got these from Heaven, and because of his laws I disdain them, and from him I hope to get them back again.”
The physical body, our bodies, my body; these are integral to resurrection. Without the physicality of our bodies resurrection is nothing of the sort. Without the body resurrection becomes purely spiritual, ethereal, ghostly, transcendent, and unrelated to the corporeal physicality of the life as we know it.
I am my body and my body is me
I am my body. My body is me. And yet at this precise moment I find myself wanting to say, ‘no it isn’t!’ And yet, without my body there is no me. My body seems to be integral to who I am. Yes of course, if my heart was in danger of giving out, or my arteries became seriously blocked and it was deemed by medical professionals that my life was in danger they might suggest or advise, or insist that I have a heart transplant. Someone, somewhere might donate their heart in order that I continue living. I don’t think for a moment that having someone else’s donated heart inside my body, pumping my blood around my body, makes me any less me. Nor if I was have receive donations of any other part of a body. There’s no doubt that medicine and transplant techniques are rapidly advancing and evidence of this is that soon there will be an attempted body transplant. Yes! A surgeon in Turin, Italy is convinced that within a couple of years he will be able to graft a living person’s head on to a donor body! Wow! I have absolutely no doubt that ethicists will have a field day! But, if successful there remains the question as to whether the recipient, who apparently will only have contributed his head to the new person/body will still be the same person. Personally, I have absolutely no doubt that whichever lucky individual is deemed suitable for this extraordinary operation will still be the same person when she/he wakes up. But, and this is surely crucial, without a body that person will cease to be. The head requires a body, just as the heart requires a head.
Floating on clouds…?
Within Christianity there are all sorts of weird ideas floating around about life after death. Ethereal, disembodied persons floating around on clouds, strumming and stroking gilded harps; spirit beings gathered in an infinite choir forever singing solemn chants. Most prevalent is perhaps the idea that the believer rises instantaneously upon death to heaven – whatever heaven is pictured to be.
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