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M58 Q&A

What does “resurrection” mean? How did Jesus resurrect?

While the exact nature of resurrection remains a mystery to us, we know very simply that Jesus’ body “got up” and was transformed into a spiritual body; thus, He was able to appear to the believers even though the doors to where they were gathered were locked.

Jesus was not, however, a ghost (i.e. a spirit without a body) because He could be touched, and He ate with them. He was not merely “revived” as Lazarus was, for while Lazarus walked out of the tomb with his grave clothes, Jesus’ grave linens lay in the tomb; Lazarus would suffer physical death again, whereas Jesus was clothed in an immortal body.

Jesus’ resurrection is not the same as reincarnation, either, because His body was immortal, even as it still bore the scars and resemblance to His old self.

Finally, Jesus’ resurrection was not assumption—He was not taken up directly into heaven as Enoch and Elijah were. Rather, He came from the dead, having suffered the torments of Hades for our sins, back to earth to reinforce the message of His resurrection. As Paul explained, “The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Cor 15:42-44).

How do we know Jesus’ resurrection really happened? Does it even matter?

Paul wrote that “if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain” (1 Cor 15:14). Thus, it is crucial that we understand and believe in the truth of the resurrection.

Jesus’ death is confirmed. The Roman soldiers saw that He had died, and it is impossible He could have survived the final stab in His side. His body was buried behind a stone and guarded by Roman soldiers, and yet on the third day the tomb was discovered empty. Either Jesus resurrected or His body was stolen. But who, other than the disciples, would want to steal the body? Those who were against Jesus could have proven that the resurrection was a hoax simply by trotting out His body from the tomb. They did not, because they could not.

Jesus’ resurrection is a fact established by Paul’s own testimony, the witness of the other apostles, as well as the witness of over 500 other believers. It is incomprehensible that they would suffer and die for a lie that they had created. They had neither the means to pull the fraud nor the motive to promote it, given the immense hostility they faced.

We know He resurrected and lives today through tangible evidence: 1) we receive the Holy Spirit, just as the apostles did in Acts, and 2) because He answers our prayers, even in miraculous ways.