Yes, it’s really her.
Have you ever heard someone say of human remains in a casket, “Don’t worry, she isn’t really there. That isn’t her. The real her is in heaven.”
It is a statement meant to comfort, but it isn’t exactly true.
Most Christians do believe that he souls of the dead are with Christ after death, awaiting the resurrection, but Christians don’t believe that the soul is the “real person.” It is one part of a person. The body is the other.
After all, we wouldn’t have said about Jesus’ body as it lay in the tomb, “Don’t be sad, everyone. It’s not really him.” We wouldn’t say that, of course, because we know what happened next, that Jesus’ body came back to life, exited the tomb, and walked all around the countryside talking to people and eating stuff.
That is exactly what is going to happen to our bodies, whether they are buried, burned, or eaten by a grizzly bear. Jesus will raise them up from death, and they will be like his body. They will be eternally healthy, strong, and invincible.
A distorted story
This ending is sometimes forgotten. The gospel I learned in Sunday School didn’t rely on the resurrection. It was a tale of my sin, a debt to be paid, and a sacrifice made for me so that I could go to heaven. There was no need for the resurrection of Christ in this narrative, except maybe to prove that God accepted the sacrifice.
This focus has ramifications. After all, if the goal of the gospel is getting our sin excused so we can go to heaven and not hell, then getting to heaven is the goal. And if a person has gone to heaven, then they won’t need to come back for any reason, and so they will never reunite with their body, which isn’t actually a part of them anymore.
A deepening of hope
But the Bible tells a different story. It proclaims Christ as risen bodily from the grave, the victor over sin and death. The human body is only important for the here and now, it has eternal significance.
This makes death more sad, surely, but it also deepens hope for the future. Christians know that even as their loved ones decompose, that moment when Jesus returns to restore their bodies draws ever closer. This is what Christian joy is: hope for future and eternal happiness and love even in the midst of present sorrow and anguish.
So yes, it is really her lying in that coffin. It might take longer than three days, but her body will come to life again in an instant, conformed to the glorious body of Christ.
Here are some reasons we focus on the resurrection here at RisenReviews
- It is an enormously important Christian doctrine. All orthodox Christian denominations and groups have believed in the future resurrection of the body. It is an essential part of the gospel, since it is our assurance that we will live with and be like Jesus forever.
- It is commonly denied and ridiculed by those outside the church. There is no culture on the face of the earth that has ever viewed the resurrection of the flesh in a positive way. Ancient philosophers believed that the body was less important than the spirit, and modern philosophers believe the body can never be recovered from the dust it becomes after death.
- It can be ignored in Christian circles. Kandi and I both found in our upbringings in Christian churches that the emphasis on going to Heaven after death far outweighed any concern about the resurrection of the body.
- It helps the gospel make sense. Both of us read the Bible when we were younger, but understanding the resurrection made the full weight and meaning of the gospel fall into place for both of us. We gained a fuller perspective of Jesus, what he did for us, and who we are in him.
- It is something we care about. The resurrection is a lens through which we see the world and the gospel.