“A Body Like His Body”, Third Sunday of Easter, April 18th 2021
Luke 24:36-38; 1 John 3:1-7.
Father may the words of my mouth and the thoughts of all our hearts conform to Your will and Your Word. In Christ’s Holy name, Amen.
The title of this talk is: “A Body Like His Body”. Our reading today from Luke 24 relates the story of Jesus suddenly appearing in the midst of the Apostles.
This is a company of people – Jews – who had had centuries of expectation about a Messiah and a Kingdom. This Kingdom would be brought by this Messiah and He would come and conquer like Caesar – “Veni, Vidi, Vinci” or “I came, I saw, I conquered”.
They were trapped in an expectation – a paradigm of a great Messiah, a conquering Messiah, one that would invite His Apostles to sit at His right hand and rule which is why they responded: “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory. (Mark 10:37)” to Jesus’ question about what they wanted. This is in the same chapter in Mark he’s talking about how he will die – for the third time! – but all their preconceived notions don’t let them hear what he is saying about the suffering and death he must accomplish. Consequently, they continue in their assumptions about conquering and ruling and want to be part of the conquering elite.
Jesus did suffer and he did die. He rose, too. Thanks be to God. He had a new body; he was hard to recognize in some ways, but it was Jesus all the same – a Jesus in a completely new and glorified body that was somehow recognizable, but not immediately so, and still bore the marks of a Lamb that had been slain. We know that Mary didn’t immediately recognized him thinking he was the gardener or groundskeeper. “Mary Magdalene turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know it was Jesus…supposing him to be the gardener.” (John 20:14,15) Perhaps He is a sort of gardener, but that is another sermon!
We, too, at Resurrection will get a new body, like His, but the idea of Messiah’s suffering was somehow overshadowed by the expectation of that conqueror and the idea of a bodily resurrection for believers has long been disputed – yet Paul says: “But if there is no resurrection from the dead, then Christ is not risen (1 Corinthians 15:13).” Well, we know that he IS risen – risen, indeed; Hallelujah! For those of you who missed my talk on the Five Reasons to Believe in the Bodily Resurrection of Christ, please go to:
There are compelling, historical reasons to believe in the Biblical narrative of Christ’s bodily resurrection; but the best reason to believe is because our Bible – which is
- a reliable collection of historical documents
- written by eyewitnesses; In the time of other eyewitnesses
- …they report supernatural events which were fulfillments of specific prophecies
- … and claim that their writings are divine and not human in origin
Paul continues: “But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (1 Corinthians 15:35).”
So, what will our bodies be like? We will be resurrected; we will have bodies just as the Creed says: “We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.” Paul says we might not all die, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:51,52). To get an idea of this body we can look to Christ’s resurrected body in the passage from Luke: He showed them His hands and His feet and His side and He ate.
- Our body will be like His body. John says, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is (1 John 3:2).” And in Philippians we read: “ [Christ] will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself (Philippians 3:21).”
- Our body will be like His body: We will then reflect the beauty of His creation and assume the roles purposed for us. Not only that, but we will have a body that will allow us to carry out what God wants us to do.
- We will have an actual body. We are not Spirit beings, we are embodied. As humans we must have a body. As we read in Luke, Jesus says: “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have (Luke 24:39).” Thomas the Twin – Doubting Thomas – who was not at Jesus’ first appearing would not believe that Jesus had risen: “Then He [Jesus] said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving but believing’ (John 20:27).” This is what we can hope in, too.
- You and I will have and must have an actual body in order to serve and praise God properly as human beings. This will be a new, resurrected body – not like that of Lazarus or of Jarius’ daughter, but transformed; recognizable, but transformed like Jesus’ body. Jesus’ raising of Lazarus was not to “newness of life”, but was more like resuscitation than resurrection. Romans 6:4,5: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his”. Jesus had an actual body and we will, too.
- A body with amazing properties. In our reading today, many people assume Jesus walked through walls to get into the midst of them, but that is not what the text says. Nevertheless, Jesus was able to disappear from the company of the men on the road to Emmaus and in John, again, “And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in their midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ (John 20:26).” So, there are some very special properties of this new, resurrected body that will allow us to carry out the duties that accompany our sphere of blessing in God’s Kingdom.
- Our bodies will be beyond amazing: for the young people and for those parents with kids I can refer to the character “Po” in “Kung fu Panda”. At being selected as the Dragon Warrior who will save China, he gets a little ahead of himself: “His Kung fu master says: You will feel the universe in motion around you. To which Po responds: Can I punch through walls? Do a quadruple back flip? And his master replies: Focus. Focus.” We don’t know so much about quadruple backflips, what we do know comes from the assurances that we are reckoned to have died in Christ already and that we will be raised with him and our bodies be like his: He appeared and disappeared, but still bore the scars of crucifixion, his human body was sown in weakness and raise in power. To repeat what 1 John says: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” Which leads me to my fourth point…
- Immortal and incorruptible. Our sinful bodies will be exchanged for a body like His. We will not die, nor be subject to death because of Christ’s work: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:55-57)” Unlike angels, we are not spirit beings, we have no immortal spirit, – we must put on immortality! And we will do this in our resurrected bodies; bodies unlike the degraded and corruptible ones we have now. To do God’s work, we will need a body like his body.
- Immortal and incorruptible:
And Paul writes: “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42).” He goes on: “For this corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53).” We are mortal, not spiritual, and unlike Greek philosophy there is no sense in the Bible of trying to rid ourselves of a body so that a disembodied spirit can fly away to freedom. Aristotle (Plato, actually!) talked about the physical somehow being evil, corrupted, undesirable because it is physical. He longed to be rid of his body because he thought he had a pure and immortal soul that was trapped inside the physical and – so his theory went – he needed to ‘sluff off this mortal coil’ and his philosophy has had a profound, and confusing, effect on Western thought for millennia. This is called Greek dualism. Hebrew dualism says the dualism isn’t your evil physical body and your good immaterial spirit, but the dualism of God on one side and His creation, including physical people, on the other side. Which one you pick will color how you read scripture and we know from scripture that Humans – even resurrected ones – have a body, just like their Christ and what an amazing body it will be!
Friends, our hope is sure: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:13,14)”
Our hope is not a pining or a gamble or a speculation, but our Hope is grounded in the promises of One Who has made many promises and kept them all; of One Who has paid the price of our sins; of One Who rose again and since He is risen we, too, will rise and receive a body like his body – one we will use to His glory, service, and eternal praise.
Let us pray:
Father we thank you so much for Your Son, the Living Word, Who died in our stead. We thank you that even if we do die we fall asleep in Christ and our identity is safe and protected in Him till we rise in glory on the Day – at the last trumpet – with a body that we will joyfully and eternally use to serve and glorify Him.
Father, we pray for all our brothers and sisters in Christ and ask that they may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ for us all. Shower us by the power of Your Spirit with the understanding, knowledge, and wisdom of Your Word so that we may serve You in truth and peace. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.