(303) – THE RESURRECTED CHRIST

“Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb” (Matt. 28:1). “They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They entered in, and didn’t find the Lord Jesus’ body. It happened, while they were greatly perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling clothing. Becoming terrified, they bowed their faces down to the earth. They said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He isn’t here, but is risen’” (Luke 24:2-6). The apostle Paul, preaching about the resurrection to some people who doubted, said: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (1 Cor. 15:17-18). Whoever believes in the death of Christ only is lost, for the death of Jesus does not make anyone righteous. Paul said: “[Jesus] was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). And Paul also said: “For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). The teacher Paul could have said: “by his resurrected life.” Whoever does not believe in the resurrection of Christ is not saved and is eternally condemned. One of the apostles, named Thomas, did not believe in the resurrection of Jesus and, for this reason, was lost. Jesus, though, approached him and said: “Reach here your finger, and see my hands. Reach here your hand, and put it into my side. Don’t be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:24-27). Thomas, then, believed, and was justified and saved. The glory of Jesus is more in the resurrection than in death, for dying on the cross happened to many, but Christ was the first to resurrect into eternity. “…How the Christ must suffer, and how, by the resurrection of the dead, he would be first to proclaim light both to these people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:23).

Let us talk about such great resurrection. After Jesus died by crucifixion, the disciples, disappointed, scattered away (Matt. 26:56). They all went back to their businesses. Two of them were returning to Emmaus, and Jesus approached them, but they did not recognize him (Luke 24:13-16). Jesus began to explain the prophecies related to himself in the Old Testament, beginning with Moses and all other prophets. And they arrived to the village of Emmaus. The two disciples constrained him to eat with them. When they were at table, Jesus took the bread and blessed it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their presence (Luke 24:25-31). What do we understand here? That the resurrected Christ did not look like the one who had died. Let us consider another case.

“But Mary was standing outside at the tomb weeping. So, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb, and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. They told her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, and didn’t know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned and said to him, ‘Rabboni!’ which is to say, ‘Teacher!’” (John 20:11-16). At first, Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus, because the resurrected Christ was not like the one who had been crucified! Let us look at the apostles: “After these things, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself this way. Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They told him, ‘We are also coming with you.’ They immediately went out, and entered into the boat. That night, they caught nothing. But when day had already come, Jesus stood on the beach, yet the disciples didn’t know that it was Jesus. Jesus therefore said to them, ‘Children, have you anything to eat?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ They cast it therefore, and now they weren’t able to draw it in for the multitude of fish. That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It’s the Lord!’ So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around him (for he was naked), and threw himself into the sea” (John 21:1-7). None of the disciples recognized Jesus after he was resurrected, because the crucified Christ was not like the one who resurrected.

The resurrected Christ had a spiritual body, and the Christ who died on the cross had a physical body, and they were different. The resurrected Christ went through walls, as we read in John 20:19. The resurrected Christ appeared and disappeared, mysteriously, as it happened with the two men at Emmaus (Luke 24:30-31). The apostle Paul declared that they not only differed in aspect, but also were so different spiritually that the one who died was one, and the one who resurrected was another. Paul said: “Therefore we know no one after the flesh from now on. Even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know him so no more” (2 Cor. 5:16).  And Paul says in the letter of Romans: “Therefore, my brothers, you also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you would be joined to another, to him who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit to God (Rom. 7:4). The one who died was the Messiah of Israel, and the one who resurrected is the Son of God, begotten by the Holy Spirit in the resurrection (Rom. 1:3-4). The Messiah was savior only of Israel; the Son of God is the savior of all. For this reason Paul said: For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we have set our trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:10).

The spiritually resurrected Jesus was not the Messiah of Israel any longer, but the Savior of all those who believe: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3-4). After the resurrection Jesus appeared to the eleven apostles and told them: “Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who disbelieves will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new languages; they will take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it will in no way hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:15-18).

We conclude saying: The kingdom of the Messiah would be in this world. Jehovah said: “and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all” (Ezek. 37:22). “My servant David shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my ordinances, and observe my statutes, and do them. They shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob my servant … forever: and David my servant shall be their prince for ever” (Ezek. 24-25).

The kingdom of Christ is not in this world. Paul declared: “And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me for his heavenly Kingdom; to whom be the glory forever and ever” (2 Tim. 4:18). And Peter said: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy became our father again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that doesn’t fade away, reserved in Heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:3-4).

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