Thoughts on Resurrection
by Danny Larsen
People often wonder – Will we have the same exact bodies in the resurrection? We have been conditioned to believe that we will have our same body in the resurrection. As Latter-day Saints, we learned this from the following Book of Mormon passage:
Alma 11:43-44 “The spirit and body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time… and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but everything shall be restored to perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body…”
When we examine the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus in the Gospel accounts, we notice something entirely different. The mortal Jesus did not look like the resurrected Jesus. The following Biblical passages tell the stories:
John 20:11-16 Mary Magdalene went to the sepulchre and was weeping, when she encountered two angels. Then Verse 14 “…she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.” He asks her why she is weeping and who is she seeking? Verse 15 “…She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou hath born him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” Verse 16 ”Jesus saith unto her, Mary.” It must have been the way He said her name, that she now recognized it was Jesus. It was not by his appearance.
Luke 24:13-31 Two disciples while walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus were discussing the events of the past few days. Jesus joins them as they went. Verse 16 “But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.” Jesus asks them what they are conversing about? Cleopas looks at Jesus and says, Verse 18 “Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and has not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?” They go on telling Him, Verse 19 “concerning Jesus of Nazareth” and all that happened to Him from the arrest, crucifixion, burial, and now missing from the sepulchre. Then Jesus teaches them on how all these events are a fulfillment of prophecies. At this point, they have not even recognized His voice. As they reached their destination, they constrained Him to stay with them for the evening. Verse 30 “as He sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.”
They had spent most of the entire day and into the evening, and they still had not recognized it was Jesus. It was not until Jesus broke bread, blessed it, and gave it to them, that Verse 31 “And their eyes were opened, and they knew him…” It was a result of the manner in, which he broke bread, Verse 35 “…and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.”
These two men returned to Jerusalem and found the other disciples gathered, together.
Luke 24:36-48 “And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” You would expect them to have said, “Jesus you’re alive!” But, not one of them recognized Him, not by His appearance nor, by His voice. Instead they were terrified and frightened, because they thought they had seen a spirit or a ghost. Jesus spoke to them, Verse 38 “Why are ye troubled?” In order to prove or give evidence that it was Himself, Jesus said look at the nail-prints in my hands and feet. Handle me and touch me to see for yourself. He was not a spirit – He had a body of flesh and bones. Even after that, they still were not sure. So, He asked them, Verse 41 “Have ye here any meat?” And He ate some fish and honeycomb. Then, He repeated how all the recent events were a fulfillment of prophecy. He opened the scriptures to help them understand He was the Christ. Seems that it took a lot of convincing of His closest friends and acquaintances, beyond just His appearance and His speech.
John 20:24-29 Thomas was missing at Jesus’ visit to the disciples the first time. So, eight days later when they were gathered again, Jesus appeared in their midst. Verse 27 “Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hands; and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” It was at this moment when Thomas realized for sure it was the resurrected Jesus. Verse 28 “And Thomas answered and said unto him. My Lord and my God.”
John 21:1-7 Seven of the disciples were at the sea of Tiberias fishing at night. In the morning Jesus stood on the shore, Verse 4 “but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.” Jesus asked them if they had any meat? And, they said, No. Verse 6 “And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.” At this point, they still did not recognize that it was Jesus. They cast their nets and were able to catch a multitude of fishes. That is when John said to Peter, Verse 7 “It is the Lord.” How did John recognize it was the Lord? By His appearance or by hearing His voice? No. the man they had spent the past three years with did not look like or sound like the person conversing with them from the shore. Jesus’ resurrected body and perhaps even His voice were different. The actual reason they knew it was Jesus, is because they had just witnessed a miracle that was similar, to the miracle, they saw Jesus perform in the early days of His ministry.
Let us review that earlier miracle:
Luke 5:1-10 Jesus “stood by the lake of Gennesaret” also known as Tiberias. Then He got into a boat and told Simon to launch out into the deep and let their nets down for a big catch. Simon said we have been fishing all night without any luck. But he did it anyway and they caught a great multitude of fishes. Peter reacted by falling, down at Jesus’ knees. This was a miracle! Verse 10 “And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” In other words, not catching fish that will just die but catching men who will live eternally.
What does Jesus’ resurrected body tell us, about what our own might be?
1 Corinthians 15:35 “…How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Verse 44 “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” The term “spiritual body” might seem like a contradiction of terms. Although we will receive spiritual bodies, it seems they will not be purely spirit. The emphasis is upon the new body in which we receive. Verse 49 “And as we have borne the image of the earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.”
Philippians 3:21 Paul tells about Christ, “Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” Because our body will be made “like unto the body of His glory” – our resurrected bodies will share the properties of Jesus’ own.
1 Corinthians 2:9 “But it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”
1 John 3:2 “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
Romans 8:11 “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
There seems to be some type of physical connect between the natural body and the resurrected body. However, the material identity will not exactly be the same. The key issue is that of individual memory and personality. These are the things that make up the unique identity of each of us.
The resurrection bodies of the righteous will be different from one another (1 Corinthians 15:41, 42).
Our new spiritual body will be something glorious (1 Corinthians 15:43; Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43).