Table of Contents
Part II: Embodiment and Redemption
The Man Who Raised Himself
from the Dead
"In another form. . . ." Mark 16:12
It is a remarkable
fact that the Early Church was far more concerned to celebrate
the resurrection than the crucifixion. Illustrations of the resurrection
were painted on the walls of the miles of catacombs under the
streets and houses of Rome from the very beginning. By contrast,
the sign of the Cross is almost, if not quite, absent from them;
the earliest known case is believed to have been done at a much
later date by a pilgrim visitor.
Kenneth Clark observed that the Cross is hardly ever represented
in earlier art forms, and when it is, it tends to be tucked away
in the corner of the work rather than central to it. It was not
until the fifth century that Christ was actually portrayed on
the cross between two thieves. (131)
It would, therefore, seem that
the prime emphasis in preaching was on the resurrection rather
than on the crucifixion, a fact which is a little surprising
in view of the modern emphasis upon the Lord's death and the
virtual neglect of his resurrection. William Barclay, whose commentaries
are extremely popular but whose attitude towards the Scriptures
is far from conservative, stated publicly that he
131. Clark, Sir Kenneth, Civilization:
A Personal View, London, BBC, 1969, p.29.
does not see the virgin
birth as having any essential place in the Christian Faith and
is "mystified" by the resurrection. (132)
In this chapter,
I obviously cannot treat the resurrection in any sense comprehensively.
My object is limited to drawing attention to a number of seemingly
incidental remarks made by the four Evangelists which have a
very specific bearing on the basic theme of this volume. What
I wish to underscore is that the biblical record concerning the
nature of Adam must be taken to mean what it has traditionally
been taken to mean or the strictly logical coherence of the whole
Plan of Salvation, of which the BODILY resurrection of the
Lord forms the capstone, breaks down completely.
The amount of incidental detail
which the four Gospels provide on the subject of the Lord's resurrection
body is remarkable. Since our resurrection bodies are
to be fashioned after the pattern of his and are to be an essential
part of our personal identity in heaven, it is strange that one
hears so little about the matter from the pulpit. After all,
we shall spend eternity in them!
I want to discuss in this chapter
what I believe to be the significance of some of these details
in relation to the Lord's body under what appear to be three
conditions of operation: (1) as it was when laid in the
(2) as it was immediately after He raised it very early on that
resurrection morning; and (3) as it was shortly afterwards, transformed
into a new vehicle for the manifestation of the Lord's person
with some entirely new and astonishing properties, properties
which our resurrected bodies are also to share.
It will help to set the stage by
listing briefly the basic facts which the New Testament provides
in considering the circumstances surrounding this progressive
change between the resurrection and the Ascension forty days
(1) We are told that He raised
Himself, a circumstance unique in history.
132. Barclay, William, In The British Weekly,
31 Jan., 1963, p.5; and see comments by Harold Lindsell, "Where
Did I Come From? A Question of Origins" [Christianity
Today, 17 June, 1977, p.18] referring to William Barclay,
A Spiritual Autobiography, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1975.
we are also told that an angel, not the Lord Himself, rolled
away the stone that sealed the tomb; suggesting, at first, real
limitations to what He could do in that body.
(3) The body in which He first
appeared to Mary Magdalene was evidently the very same body that
had been laid in the tomb three days before.
(4) Contrary to what would be expected
in the circumstances, that body had experienced no corruption
(decay) whatever during its three days of entombment.
(5) A transformation of some sort
then took place in that body between the first appearance to
Mary and the next appearance to Mary and others, that seems to
have occurred quite soon thereafter. This transformation endowed
it with entirely new properties which, however, in no way left
its identity in any doubt. It was still his body.
(6) What had transpired in the
interval between those two appearances can be tentatively conjectured
from certain passages of Scripture which, if the proposed interpretation
is allowed, shed light on the circumstances surrounding (2) and
(7) The significance of the very
deliberate way in which the Lord at first protected Himself against
being touched but afterwards invited, indeed commanded it, is
examined in the light of certain statements in Hebrews not usually
related to this seeming contradiction.
(8) The importance of these extraordinary
new properties of a resurrected human body, as they relate to
our own future, is then explored. They suggest that our bodies,
and therefore we, will enjoy a new kind of freedom from
present limitations while yet retaining our identity fully and
unequivocally throughout eternity. The prospect is a wonderful
one, and the importance of the human body is magnified
tremendously. Its potential as a vehicle for the redeemed spirit
of man to express itself effectively and actively in the New
Heaven and New Earth that is promised, is seen to be well-nigh
I am well aware
that the Gospel records of the resurrection appear to many to
be so full of contradictions as to be almost beyond reconciliation.
It would be a foolish man
who imagined that he
has the final key after the attempts of all others have brought
no universally accepted resolution. All I hope to do in this
chapter is to show that we are provided with a chain of circumstantial
details in these records which seem to me to move forward progressively
to a single objective. This progression demonstrates a significant
change which took place in the nature of the Lord's body at some
point between the time of his first appearing to Mary Magdalene
and his ascension from the Mount of Olives, and a reason why
the change was not immediate is suggested.
This "progressive revelation"
as it were, is not materially affected one way or the other by
doubts as to who saw what, or even in what precise order some
of the incidents took place. I venture to say that the following
very summary statement will not be disputed by those who take
the Word of God to be entirely free of error. One is led to conclude
that even the very wording used has been inspired. It seems to
me that a great deal hinges upon the assumption that the wording
is indeed to be taken very seriously. In short, these are not
merely intriguing incidents. They are designed to communicate
a truth about the nature of the Lord's resurrection body which
is of profound importance, and perhaps could not have been made
clear in any other way. Here we have the pattern after which
our bodies are also to be fashioned, though not progressively
as His was.
I propose to
put this summary statement in the form of a series of questions,
each of which refers to a particular circumstance that may not
have struck the reader previously as of much importance. I have
to assume, in the interests of brevity, that the reader is more
or less familiar with the broad sweep of events and therefore
with the general background of the particular details which constitute
the focal point of each question. Here are my questions:
(a) Why was it necessary for
an angel to roll away the stone (Matthew 28:2)? Why did the Lord
not simply pass
through it, or even roll it away Himself
by his own mighty resurrection power?
(b) When He appeared to Mary Magdalene,
the first to come to the tomb, why did He forbid her to
touch Him (John 20:17)? What did He signify by his explanation
of why such contact was not permitted?
(c) When Mary and her companions
arrived back at the tomb later, why did He now allow her
and her companions to hold Him by the feet (Matthew 28:9)? For
this was certainly making physical contact in a very concrete
(d) Why did the two who walked
to Emmaus not recognize Him visually as Mary and her companions
had recognized Him, until He performed the act of breaking bread
(e) Why are we told that the doors
were locked, which seems too obvious a thing to need mentioning
since it was night time? * Why is such emphasis placed on his
means of self-identification? And what did He mean precisely
by the phrase "a spirit has not flesh and bones as
you see me have" (Luke 24:38,39)?
(f) Was there a specific reason
in the purposes of God for the absence of Thomas at his previous
appearance and his presence now eight days later (John 20:25,26)?
(g) Is there any particular reason
why the climax of these personal appearances (John 21:114)
should once again have involved a meal of which the Lord was
this time not only the host but a host whose invited guests
were asked to supply part of the meal themselves?
It will be seen
from what follows that this chain of events falls into a pattern,
each link making its own particular contribution, a contribution
usually crystallized by a small circumstantial detail the significance
of which is easily overlooked. I am not making any attempt to
address the many apparent contradictions that have been remarked
upon by those who have made a far more intensive study of these
events. But I do not think the resume which follows will be seriously
challenged as to their sequence or the chief
* The word translated "shut" implies
locking in the Greek and forms the root of their word for "key"
characters involved in
each instance. Having said that, let me boldly plunge where even
angels might fear to tread.
of any condemned man was removed before sundown to be buried
according to Jewish law (Deuteronomy 21:23). But no corpse was
given full preparation at once but merely protected against attack
by insects and wrapped for the time being. The tomb was then
temporarily closed to protect against predators. It would be
re-opened after three days.
The reason for not completing the
burial arrangements at this time was that "certification
of death" (133)
was not granted until the "third day" because by this
time it was assumed that a certain marked change would have taken
place in the appearance of the face which, by Jewish tradition,
signified that the spirit had left the body permanently and would
not return. The object of this precaution was to ensure that
death had really occurred and that no natural recovery would
take place as sometimes happens even in modern times, even after
certification of death.
Those who performed these burial
rites were usually women rather than men, and were customarily
personal friends and relatives of the deceased. This circumstance
accounts for the fact that a succession of women came to Jesus'
tomb very early on the third day with various spices to care
for the body for the last time before final closure of the tomb.
When Mary Magdalene, who was the
very first to come, arrived while it was still dark, she had
every expectation that the tomb would be closed but evidently
wanted to be there as soon as she could for the opening of the
tomb and certification of death according to law. It was the
last sight of their beloved Lord any one of them could expect
to have as the body was prepared for final interment.
Remember that it was still dark
(John 20:1), but not too dark for her to find something that
surprised her greatly. The stone had already been rolled away.
133. See J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts
on the Gospels, New York, Carter, 1881, vol.II, p.284; and
Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,
New York, Herrick, vol.II, p.325.
the open tomb, it was all so quiet and so dark and there was
no one around to give her assurance, she did not dare to go in
but went back to find more company.
She returned, now accompanied by
"the other Mary" and Salome, the mother of James. By
this time it was just beginning to get a little lighter (Matthew
28:1). To their amazement the angel who had rolled away the stone
(Matthew 28:5, 6) was at that very moment sitting upon it!
The angel spoke to them quite naturally
and invited them to examine the tomb and see for themselves that
the Lord was no longer there. It was indeed empty, but inside
were two other angels who actually rebuked them for their incredulity!
"He is not here, but is risen,"
they said. "Remember how He said unto you when He was yet
in Galilee, saying, 'The Son of man must be delivered into the
hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise
again'" (Luke 24:6,7).
We do not know where Mary Magdalene's
companions went perhaps to take home the spices they had
brought, not knowing what else to do! But we do know that Mary
ran at once to tell Peter, and John the disciple whom Jesus especially
loved (John 20:2-6). Peter and John (with Mary never able to
keep up with them!) immediately ran to the tomb to see for themselves:
and their hurried journey is described in one of the most marvellously
descriptive passages ever penned in so few words!
"So they both ran together:
and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the
sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen
clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then comes Simon Peter following
him, and went into the sepulchre, and sees the linen clothes
lie, and the napkin that was about his head, not lying with the
linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then
went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre,
and he saw, and believed" (John 20:4-8).
In the tomb they saw the linen clothes lying in one
place and the head wrapping carefully laid by itself, evidently
folded and laid down as though the Lord's body had been gently
unwrapped. Certainly there was no evidence that the body had
been stolen, for such care would never have been taken by thieves!
Meanwhile, Mary followed breathlessly
some distance behind and only arrived as Peter and John were
about to go back and tell the rest of the disciples what had
transpired. The body was gone, and so had the guards, but it
must have seemed obvious to them that it was not the work of
thieves for this false report was not circulated by the
disciples but by the Lord's enemies (Matthew 28:1215).
Meanwhile, Mary remained at the
entrance to the tomb, distraught by what they had discovered,
and weeping at her personal loss. She could not even perform
the last rites to the body of the Lord whom she had loved so
dearly and understood so well (John 12:3).
Looking into the tomb through her
tears, she suddenly saw two others were there, one at each end
of the place where the body had lain. They said to her,
"Why are you weeping?"
"Because," she said,
"they have taken away my Lord and I know not where they
have laid Him."
And having said this, she turned
away from them and saw someone else in the opening, his silhouette
sharply outlined against the dawning sky as she stood in the
tomb. This one said to her (John 20:15),
"Why do you weep? Whom do
This, she thought, must be the
gardener for after all Joseph of Arimathea, who had just
purchased the property and had had the rock tomb excavated, was
a rich man and very probably had a gardener to look after it.
So she said to him,
"Sir, if you have borne him
hence, tell me where you have laid Him and I will take Him away."
Seen against the lightening sky
and through her tearful
eyes, she did not recognize
who He was until Jesus did the one thing guaranteed to identify
Him to her unequivocally: He simply spoke her name.
Mary fell instantly on her knees
before Him and would at once have held Him by those beloved feet
had He not said quickly,
"No, Mary, you must not touch
And then He told her why:
"Because I have not yet ascended
to my Father. But go to my brethren, and say unto them, 'I ascend
to my Father and your Father; and to my God and your God'"
And I can imagine her, almost beside
herself with joy and, asking no more questions, running breathlessly
back to where she knew the disciples were gathered, to tell them
that she had actually seen the Lord! He was alive! He was risen
indeed! She had spoken to Him face-to-face!
In the meantime, while these events
were transpiring and the message was being eagerly shared and
talked about, two of the Lord's friends, Cleopas and his wife,
were walking soberly back home to Emmaus (Luke 24:18). For although
the news was spreading quickly no doubt, almost no one really
believed (save for Mary Magdalene) that the Lord was indeed risen
in body and was back among them once more. . . .
This "walk to Emmaus"
is perhaps one of the most dramatic scenes in the whole of Scripture!
The two travellers as they go talk about all that has happened
in the last few days: the dashing of their hopes that Jesus was
indeed the promised Messiah, and how He had been so cruelly treated,
and unresisting had been led away to die the most frightful of
all deaths on a cross. And now there were these rumours. . .
And as they walked, Jesus came
up behind them and walked a little apart but still close enough
to hear their conversation. He soon joined them unobtrusively
them what they were
talking about so earnestly. They were naturally surprised at
his ignorance, but He in turn rebuked them and asked why they
hadn't realized that it had all been foretold beforehand!
"O fools, and slow of heart
to believe," He said. And so beginning at Moses and all
the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the
things concerning Himself (Luke 24:1827), thereby
explaining the meaning of what had been happening.
In no time at all, it seemed, they
were home, and they turned aside to go into their own house.
Their newly-found companion, still unrecognized, went on as though
He would not invite Himself in. But they urged Him to come in
and He accepted the invitation. Together they went in and very
soon were sitting at table having refreshment. Meanwhile, the
conversation continued, until He took a piece of bread, blessed
it and broke it and suddenly their eyes were opened and
they recognized Him. And no sooner did they recognize who He
was than He vanished out of their sight!
Now why had they not recognized
Him before? Perhaps the answer lies in Mark 16:12. "He appeared
to them in another form" (Greek: en hetero morphe).
If we were to find another
word for this phrase, we might say his body had been transformed.
In fact, He had now assumed a transfigured form it was
his own body still, but somehow wonderfully changed. The facial
agony was gone, the shadow of the three hours of darkness was
dispersed, the marks of the crown of thorns and the buffeting,
the bloody sweat, the gasping for air and the desperate need
for water in the mouth, the matted hair and the bowed shoulders
that could not sustain the load of the cross in short,
the "tragic" figure of an utterly abused and condemned
victim in whose face there was "no beauty that we should
desire Him" (Isaiah 53:2) all that was gone. That
had been their last impression and their only remembered
one. But this stranger who shared their
walk back to Emmaus
was utterly unlike the Lord as they had seen Him barely three
And it is almost certain they had
no expectation of ever seeing Him again, least of all vibrantly
alive and so beautiful. It is really no wonder they did not recognize
Him, for He did indeed appear in "another form," a
figure of beauty not shame. In fact, so different was this body
that He could share a meal with them, eat their food, and
then suddenly disappear, vanishing without a trace - not even
a trace of the food He had eaten!
No wonder they arose at once and
went back to the city to join the other disciples. The Lord was
alive indeed! The Lord had risen, as He had promised!
Now, the question
arises: If He could vanish so easily now, why was it necessary
for an angel to come and roll away the stone so that He could
leave the tomb as the stone had been rolled away for Lazarus
to come forth? Why would He not simply pass through it?
Is it possible that the metamorphosis
of his body did not actually occur until after Mary Magdalene
had seen Him? If so, must it not be that the body which was laid
in the tomb, his physical, earthly, and terribly wounded body,
was the very body which He said He would raise up that
very temple (John 2:19), and nothing less?
But such a body could not pass
through the stone closure! Nor would it be humanly possible,
even if it were resurrected and given new life, for such a body
to roll the stone away, blocked by a wedge in the track as it
certainly was, on Pilate's orders. From inside, no one, not even
a Samson perhaps, could have forced it over the impediment. Someone
from outside had to remove the "lock" and roll it away,
whether man or angel.
Thus we might, not without reason,
reconstruct the scenario and suppose that the Lord, the Jehovah
of the Old Testament, did indeed revitalize his own Temple, but
not yet to change it in any significant way. An angel rolled
away the stone, and
two other angels removed the wrappings just as all this
had been done for Lazarus. Only then did He step forth, his "old"
self, still bearing the marks of the wounds indeed, and still
clothed in his earthly body. As Mary Magdalene returned, perhaps
He stood aside in the dim light until she had entered the tomb,
and then stood silhouetted against the sky as she came tearfully
and wonderingly out. The rest we know.
But a question remains. When did
the transformation occur? Why did He not permit her even
to touch Him? Was there a task He must yet complete while still
clothed in this earthly body? I believe there was.
He had performed on earth the first
part of his sacrifice in his own body on the tree. As both High
Priest and sacrificial Lamb He had yet one more duty to perform
"in his own body," this time in heaven. He was now
about to ascend to His Father and his God to complete the sacrifice
by personally presenting his own blood. *
This ascension was quite different from the ascension
at the end of the forty days. This was an ascension to be followed
by an immediate return to earth. Did not the angel say to Mary
and to her friends a little later, "Go your way and tell
the disciples and Peter that He goes before you into Galilee;
there shall you see Him as He said unto you" (Mark 16:7).
Is there any evidence from Scripture that the Lord really did
ascend for this purpose to his Father and his God? I think there
Hebrews 9:11 and 12 reads: "But
Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a
greater and more
* Because his body, unlike our bodies, had
not seen corruption [decay] in the grave, we can be assured that
his was the blood of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.
He was, as we have seen, made only in the likeness of
sinful flesh, not sinful flesh in fact (Romans 8:3). Thus his
blood was likewise uncorrupted and could avail for an atonement.
This is why Peter said so pointedly: "He whom God raised
again, saw no corruption, be it known unto you therefore
that through the Man is preached unto you the forgiveness
of sins: and by Him all that believe are justified from
all things, from which you could not be justified by the law
of Moses" (Acts 13:3739). In short, our very salvation
hinges upon the fact of that unblemished body and uncorrupted
perfect tabernacle not
made with hands, that is to say, not of this building [i.e.,
his body: see John 2:19]; neither by the blood of goats and calves,
but by his own blood He entered in once into the Holy Place,
having obtained eternal redemption for us." Here, I
suggest, He laid before heaven, before his God and his
Father, before the angel hosts, and even before Satan perhaps,
the blood of the everlasting covenant that has obtained for us
I do not suggest that there is
any way of explaining such things in physical terms, but it seems
to me that the simplest explanation of why the same Mary Magdalene
(and her friends) was allowed to touch Him and hold Him by the
feet upon the next meeting with Him, is that in the interval
He had safely fulfilled the function of High Priest and completed
the sacrifice of Himself as the Lamb of God. He, the great High
Priest had offered Himself, the Lamb. Under the old Covenant
any human contact with the High Priest instantly defiled the
priest and disqualified him, so that a "reserve" priest
was always kept in readiness on the Day of Atonement in case
the appointee for that year should accidentally be defiled by
any such contact. Mary could not touch Him until He had completed
this part of his sacrifice. Thereafter He not only allowed contact
with his body, but invited it, and on one occasion even commanded
Yet we know from the next appearance
that while the transformation had restored his beautiful face
2 Corinthians 4:6), the identifying marks of the wounds of crucifixion
in his hands and feet and of the spear in his side still remained.
Perhaps this will serve throughout eternity to show that whereas
our bodies must be dissolved and replaced, such total
replacement was not required in his case. For his body had remained
without internal blemish of sin. Presumably, the Emmaus couple
(Cleopas and his wife) had not noticed his hands. But his body
had been changed in one very significant way: it was his body
still and identifiably so, but it was no longer his earthly body
as to its functioning principal. Nevertheless it was still His
Which brings us to his first appearance among his
disciples gathered together with all the doors shut, for fear
of the Jews (John 20:19). Unlike the closure of the tomb which
could only be opened from the outside, these doors were "locked"
from the inside. But Jesus passed through them and suddenly
appeared in the room where they were all gathered discussing
what a few of them had just seen and heard. When He suddenly
became visible, the very circumstances of his appearing must
have convinced them all that it was a mere ghost of Himself.
To prevent this misapprehension, and without hesitation, He held
out his hands and showed them his feet and said, "It is
I myself, handle me and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones
as you see I have" (Luke 24:39).
The visual impression of this display
of the marks of the crucifixion must have been tremendous, even
though it was as yet only visual and not tangible evidence. Even
a ghost might appear to have flesh and bone, for how else
could a ghost's hands appear as hands? But clearly, being hesitant
to put Him to the test by actual contact, the disciples still
stood in some doubt.
Almost in rebuke the Lord said,
"Have you any food?" And someone gave Him a piece of
broiled fish and a piece of a honeycomb (Luke 24:3943).
We are then told, simply, that "He took it and did eat before
This was a beautiful example of
the Lord's dealing with any complex situation. The alternative
was to persuade each one present (perhaps up to 20 persons)
to personally examine his hands and feet and side. How otherwise
could all present be individually convinced? But by this simple
means He left all who had eyes to see in no doubt whatever as
to the reality of his bodily presence.
They must have waited until
He had actually swallowed it, and then perhaps He waited
silently for them to recover from their amazement! Surely there
could be no longer any doubt that it was really Himself and that
his body was as real as the food which He had eaten.
And yet He had come
through closed doors
and appeared out of nothing in their midst! This was indeed a
new kind of embodiment . . . manifestly substantive, and yet
not subject to any physical barrier.
But it should be noticed that He
had said, "A spirit has not flesh and bones as you see I
have": flesh and bones, not flesh and blood. The
Lord thus employed language which is not found anywhere else
in the New Testament, although the phrase "flesh and blood"
certainly is. It is used, for example, in Matthew 16:17; 1 Corinthians
15:50; Ephesians 6:12, Galatians l:16; and Hebrews 2:14; and
in every case it is obvious that the meaning is precisely to
signify an earthly body. "Flesh and bones" would
seem to signify a different kind of body, a body indeed, but
a body differently constituted.
The Lord had avoided the word blood.
Could it be because his body was now sustained by a different
form of energy, vitalized by a different principle of life? The
principle of his old life sacrificed on Calvary, namely, the
blood, was now in heaven; and the new life was independent of
that blood. In other words, the life which is in the blood
had really been given and was never to be taken back again.
It was in the realest sense an eternal sacrifice. Nevertheless,
in order that He might henceforth remain Man, a human body was
still necessary, a real body of flesh and bone, a functioning
body; and yet a body now operating on some entirely different
Eight days later He again appeared
in their midst passing freely without any hindrance through closed
doors as before. But this time Thomas was present. With his usual
greeting He said, "Peace be unto you." And then turning
immediately to Thomas and without asking him what kind of proof
would satisfy his lack of faith, He commanded him to do exactly
what Thomas had said to the rest of the disciples would be the
only proof he could accept (John 20:24 and 25), namely, to assure
himself that the nail prints were real. It is obvious
that the Lord had been present, though invisible, when Thomas
had made this statement. By this means
He showed them that
his presence was just as real when invisible as it was when visible
and one has to assume just as bodily real, even
though they did not know He was there. The reality of his new
body did not depend upon its visibility.
It would appear from John 20:27ff
that Thomas was astounded to hear the Lord command him to satisfy
himself on his own terms. We are not told that he responded by
actually doing it only that he said, perhaps somewhat breathlessly,
"My Lord and my God!"
It is clear therefore from these
records that the Lord would have submitted to any test that any
solid live human being might have asked of Him to prove the reality
of his body, simply because his body was capable of satisfying
any such test. It was a real body, more real than ours
in fact, because now indestructible.
The final episode
is truly astounding. It took place probably not long before his
ascension. It is recorded in John 21:114. The circumstances
are as follows.
The disciples had fished all night
without success. As the day dawned and they were near to the
shore, they discerned someone standing at the water's edge. Apparently
there was more than one boat involved in the fishing party. Across
the intervening water a voice that they may not at first have
recognized called out to them,
"Children, have you any meat?"
"No," they answered Him.
"Cast your net on the right
side of the ship," the stranger called back, "and you
Although it seems unlikely from
what followed that at that moment they knew it was the Lord,
for some reason they obeyed unhesitatingly. John writes: "And
now they were not able to draw it in for the multitude of fishes."
John, the perceptive one, said
to Peter in a low voice, "It is the Lord!" And as soon
as Peter recognized the truth of it, he put on his fisherman's
coat in order to cover his
nakedness, jumped into
the shallow water and ran towards the shore. Meanwhile, the other
disciples in another little boat drew near; and between them
they dragged the net, so full of fishes, to shore. And then they
saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon and bread (John
It is hard to imagine what this
really signified. Had the Lord caught these fish? Had
He baked this bread? Had He gathered the wood to
burn, and lit the fire to form the bed of coals? Did He
go into the water and catch the fish, and search along the shore
for the wood? Or did He create it all, fish and bread and coals?
Somehow, one likes to think He had gathered them. Despite the
transformation that had taken place in his body, He was no less
a man and now He was also a host.
The surprising thing is that He
apparently, and I am sure quite deliberately, did not actually
gather enough fish for the number of guests who had arrived!
And so He said, "Bring some of the fish which you have now
caught" (verse 10). Surely this was not of necessity
but was rather a beautiful gesture, guaranteed as nothing
else would have done, to give them a sense of reality in what
was happening, by having them contribute something more than
merely their presence. For everyone of them must have felt almost
paralyzed in amazement by what was taking place. Yet Peter had
so recovered himself that he went over and pulled the net in
a little further still and took time to count the great haul
of fishes they had just made; 153 of them! He even noticed that
the net had not broken and would need no repairs . . . .
By this time the meal was cooked
and Jesus said, "Come and dine" (verse 12). It is an
unimaginable scene, or perhaps one should say rather an uninventable
scene, and everything that was done and said was entirely appropriate
to the setting. Silently they all sat down around "the table,"
and we are told that none of the disciples dared to ask, "Who
are you?" They knew who He was.
And one wonders how the conversation
went as they
shared this picnic by
the sea, to which in his graciousness they had been allowed to
contribute their share. And Jesus broke the bread and gave it
to them, and the fish . . . .
And how many thoughts must have
gone through their minds! Perhaps they recalled the feeding of
the 5000 . . . and the 3000 . . . and the last supper. That supper
was no longer the last one. This really was the last supper,
a supper of joy, and peace without shadow.
Quite properly, the curtain is drawn on that scene by saying,
"So when they had dined" (verse 15). And what a dining
that had been!
and the potential of that wonderful body had been amply demonstrated.
It had served Him superbly. It had graced his earthly life. It
had never seen corruption even in the tomb. He had disengaged
Himself from it for a few hours and re-engaged it to complete
his sacrificial work. He had borne our sins in it, on the cross.
He had glorified the Father in it. Men had seen God objectified
in a body which under no circumstances had ever displayed any
cause for shame.
Now, it had received the final
and higher form for which it was created. It was set free at
last from all vulnerabilities and all limitations. It had achieved
immortality in the most absolute sense. It would never be laid
aside again and therefore the Lord Jesus would remain for ever
truly God incarnate as Man. In it He could do whatsoever He wished
to do, and there were no barriers to its movement or functioning,
and no waning of the energies which empowered it.
Such, then, was the potential of
the body of Jesus Christ, the Last Adam; and such, then, must
have been the body of the First Adam until he almost, but not
quite, destroyed that potential for ever by eating the forbidden
fruit and poisoning himself and the human race into a mortal
Is it conceivable that such a glorious
vehicle for a truly
human spirit could ever
have had an animal origin? Surely only a miraculous conception
can account for the body of the Last Adam; only direct creation
can account for the body of the First.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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Evolution cannot allow that an
animal's body has any transcendental significance, and
since it insists our bodies are essentially no different, it
cannot allow that they have any transcendental significance
either. As far as our bodies are concerned, they die like the
beast's. Only a ghost of ourselves can be allowed continuance
and most evolutionists would flatly deny even this.
But the Scriptures speak otherwise.
We are assured of re-embodiment, in a body like his glorious
body, sharing its incredible potential, and no longer being a
barrier to the spirit but a perfect vehicle for its expression.
I wonder if the Christian evolutionist has really worked
out his own faith in the light of the Lord's bodily resurrection.
. . . .