Each week in this Easter month, Theology 101 will look at some aspect of that first Easter that suggests ongoing importance for Christians today. In these days before the dawn of Easter Sunday, we begin by reflecting on the miracle of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
When we read the four Gospel accounts of His crucifixion, we are left with the unassailable conclusion that Jesus experienced a real physical death on that Good Friday. The spear thrust into His side was climactic and convincing evidence to those who carried out His crucifixion.
Hence, any theory that Jesus fainted on the cross, only to revive in the cool of the hewn rock tomb, must be immediately dismissed. Roman soldiers were quite accomplished at securing a victim’s death by crucifixion.
‘Flesh and Bones’
Having died a real physical death set the stage for a real physical resurrection from the dead. Therein lies the Easter miracle.
Upon their first glimpse of the risen Christ, the disciples, who had not yet seen Him alive, again were invited to behold His hands and feet. Christ even invited them to handle His body in order to dispel any notion that they had seen a spirit.
Jesus said to them, “A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39). He went a step further to ask the disciples if they had any food. In response, “They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb,” which He ate in their presence (Luke 24:42).
He could have truthfully reminded the disciples that a spirit does not eat physical food as He was doing, but Jesus wanted His followers then — and wants us now — to stand convinced of the Easter miracle of a real bodily resurrection.
‘First fruits of resurrection’
Given that Jesus was the “first fruits” of the resurrection from the dead, those who are joined to Him through saving faith will experience their own bodily resurrection at the Second Coming.
This prospect lies at the core of Christian hope, as it is precisely put in 1 Corinthians 15:52–54: “For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So, when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”
EDITOR’S NOTE – Jerry Batson is a retired Alabama Baptist pastor who also has served as associate dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University and professor of several schools of religion during his career.