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Table of Contents


Chapter  1

Part I
Chapter  2
Chapter  3
Chapter  4
Chapter  5
Chapter  6
Chapter  7
Chapter  8
Chapter  9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12

Part II
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Part II: Embodiment and Redemption


Chapter 16

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.
     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.

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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 tomb;
(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 later.

     (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.

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     (2) But 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 (3) above.
     (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 inexhaustible.

     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

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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

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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 way.
     (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 (Luke 24:30)?
     (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 21:1—14) 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"

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characters involved in each instance. Having said that, let me boldly plunge where even angels might fear to tread.

      The body 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. The woman

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.

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cautiously approached 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).

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      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 28:12—15).
     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 you seek?"
     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

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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 Me!"
     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'" (John 20:16—27)
     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 and asked

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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 24:18—27), 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

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walk back to Emmaus was utterly unlike the Lord as they had seen Him barely three days ago.
     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

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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 is.
     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 13:37—39). In short, our very salvation hinges upon the fact of that unblemished body and uncorrupted blood.

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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 eternal redemption.
     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 it!
     Yet we know from the next appearance that while the transformation had restored his beautiful face (see
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 own body.

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     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 24:39—43). We are then told, simply, that "He took it and did eat before them."
     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

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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 principle.
     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

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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 21:1—14. 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 shall find."
     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

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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 21:9).
     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

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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!

     The reality 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 state.
     Is it conceivable that such a glorious vehicle for a truly

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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.
     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. . . . .


     pg.19 of 19    

Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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