Bodily Resurrection: Can It Possibly Be Real?
By Eli Stutzman
July 1, 2013
1 Corinthians 15:12-14: Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
Throughout Christian history, no event stands out as sharply as the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many in that day could not believe that such an event really took place. In all the funerals you and I have witnessed, death has always been final. Simple reasoning tells us that the resurrection is impossible. But God had a plan. Death would lose its sting, and the grave would lose its victory. The proof is the resurrection of his only son, Jesus Christ. God did this to show us ordinary folks that we could have the same benefit by believing in his son.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul tells the church how important the resurrection is to believers. Some people said Jesus didn't actually rise bodily from the dead. After all, weren't his teachings the important thing without needing to stretch your belief so far? Even to this day people struggle with the idea of the dead being raised. It defies our experience to believe that those who died long ago could have a new, living body. Therefore, some speculate that it must be only a spiritual resurrection.
Paul says that the most important facts about the gospel are that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised on the third day. He appeared to Peter, the twelve, and then to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time. However, some could not believe that they were actually seeing a resurrected Jesus Christ. In Mark's gospel, the risen Jesus rebuked the eleven disciples for refusing to believe others who reported seeing a risen Jesus (Mark 16:13-14).
Think for a minute how some even today believe that the disciples were mistaken about seeing a physically resurrected Jesus. Those people might say that the writers of the gospel have perpetrated a myth about the resurrection. That would make the gospel writers all liars. Not just ordinary liars, but worse, because they had lied about God. Could you trust the writings of such a person? Certainly not! The entire teaching of Jesus, including the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5, would fall! The entire New Testament would be rendered worthless in one stroke!
If the resurrection is not really a bodily resurrection from the dead, then Paul says it would be better to eat, drink, and have a party, because life will soon end. If the resurrection is not real, then we would be better off doing something else on a Sunday morning such as going fishing or playing games of some kind.
In Luke chapter 24, Jesus suddenly appeared to the disciples behind locked doors, startling them. They thought that they were seeing a ghost. Jesus asked for some food. They gave him a piece of broiled fish, which he ate, reminding them that a ghost cannot do such a thing. What they saw was indeed a body raised from the dead. They were hard to convince, but once they were convinced, they died declaring that these things were true! The language used is the English word "testify." When the writers of the New Testament testified that these things were true, it was not just an ordinary statement; they placed their entire credibility on the line.
1 Corinthians 15:15 says: Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
If the Bible writers were false witnesses, then all they have written falls flat. There is no use in praying and using the name of Jesus. The teachings all fall, because in one instance the writers have been false witnesses.
The fact that Jesus has overcome death is a great source of comfort for me. He rose not only for his own sake, but to reach out and offer what he had attained to as many as would in return reach out and believe on his name. John 1:12 says; But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. That gives me confidence that death for me is not final. I pray it will for you, too!
« Back to Articles