The Jehovah's Witnesses point to post-resurrection appearances where the
Lord was suddenly within a room as proof that His resurrection body was
only apparent. But Elijah did similar things, and no one questions that
he was a man with a man's body: "Elias was a man subject to like passions
as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and
it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six
months." (James 5:17).
- "And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from you, that the
Spirit of the LORD will carry you to a place I do not know; so when I go
and tell Ahab, and he cannot find you, he will kill me. But I your servant
have feared the LORD from my youth."
- (1 Kings 18:12).
Dispose of the Body
When we love people, we care for their remains tenderly and respectfully. We don't discard them.
Where did God the Father dispose of His beloved Son's remains? Is there
a plaque at the location?
The 'free-thinker' Reimarus realizes that, if Jesus did not rise from the grave as
the gospels teach, then there is some fancy foot-work going on:
"Above all things, it was necessary to get rid of the
body of Jesus as speedily as possible, in order that they might say
he had arisen and ascended into heaven, and would promptly return
from thence with great power and glory. This design of disposing of
the body of Jesus was easy to carry out. . .They betray themselves
by owning that anyone might have secretly removed the body." (Reimarus,
Fragments of Reimarus, The Worldly Ambition of the Apostles, Kindle
Certainly adherents of alternative theories must give some account of what happened to the body,
and explain how it is psychologically possible to 'get rid of' the
remains of one beloved. As murderers discover, it can be hard to
dispose of a corpse; they rise to the surface. So where is it? Did it
dissolve into gases?:
“Our Lord's human body was, however, supernaturally
removed from the tomb; because had it remained there it would have
been an insurmountable obstacle to the faith of the disciples, who
were not yet instructed in spiritual things — for ‘the spirit was
not yet given.’ (John 7:39) We know nothing about what became of it,
except that it did not decay or corrupt. (Acts 2:27, 31) Whether it
was dissolved into gasses or whether it is still preserved somewhere
as the grand memorial of God’s love, of Christ's obedience, and of
our redemption, no one knows; — nor is such knowledge necessary”
(The Time Is at Hand, 1889, 1915 ed., p. 129). (quoted p. 24, The
Jehovah's Witnesses, by David W. Cloud).
It is distressing to learn that "we know nohing about what became of it,"
given that Jesus is the first-fruits of those who sleep, and as goes His rising from the
tomb, so goes ours.
Raise the Temple
Jesus prophesied His resurrection in these words:
"Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
But he spake of the temple of his body.
When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said."
The Lord said, the "temple" will be raised. John explains by this
He meant His body. This prophecy falls to the ground if there is no
The Old Testament
The Old Testament as well as the new prophesied a coming resurrection:
"Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust;. . ." (Isaiah 26:19). Daniel
and Ezekiel also prophesied the resurrection in the flesh:
- "Again He said to me, 'Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, "O
dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones:
'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will
put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put
breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.'"'
- "So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise,
and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed,
as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered
them over; but there was no breath in them.
Also He said to me, 'Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and
say to the breath, "Thus says the Lord GOD: 'Come from the four winds,
O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.'"' So I
prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived,
and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
- "Then He said to me, 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.
They indeed say, "Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves
are cut off!" Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord
GOD: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to
come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you
shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people,
and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you
shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know
that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it," says the LORD.'"
- (Ezekiel 37:4-14).
- "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt."
- (Daniel 12:2).
These prophecies found their first full fulfillment when Jesus
rose from the tomb, never to die again: "Having therefore obtained
help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small
and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets
and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and
that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and
should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles." (Acts
26:22-23). "Here was priority in time. Though the fact of
resurrection had been plainly taught in the Old Testament, its
land of joy and song was all untrodden till the pierced feet of
the Son of God began their triumphal march from the tomb." (H. C.
Hewlett, The Glories of Our Lord, p. 104).
Job looked forward to the day when, "in my flesh shall I see
God:" "For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand
at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms
destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall
see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another;
though my reins be consumed within me." (Job 19:25-26).
On a more esoteric note, the Rabbis found a promise of the
resurrection in most unpromising territory:
"It has been taught: R. Simai said: Whence do we learn
resurrection from the Torah? — From the verse, And I also have
established my covenant with them, [sc. the Patriarchs] to give
them the land of Canaan: '[to give] you' is not said, but 'to
give them' [personally]; thus resurrection is proved from the
Torah." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, 90b.)
This comes from Exodus 6:3-4: "And I appeared unto Abraham,
unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my
name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. And I have also established
my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land
of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers;" the Rabbi's
concept being, that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with whom God had
entered into covenant, had never in their earthly lives enjoyed
the benefits of the covenant; they wandered here and there as
frightened children, never coming into possession of the land. So
surely that was to come.
Some people say that, although the resurrection is an event
that could not have been photographed, in some metaphorical sense
it sorta kinda happened:
"In its most common form, this preunderstanding sees
the stories as historically factual reports. Reading the stories
carefully discloses differences in details, but these are seen as
the product of multiple witnesses. . .This way of seeing the
Easter stories affirms what might be called their public
factuality; that is, anybody who was there would have experienced
what is reported. You or I (or Pilate) would have seen the
empty tomb and the risen Jesus talking to Mary Magdalene,
appearing to his disciples, inviting Thomas to touch the wounds in his body, eating breakfast with them on the shore of the Sea of
Galilee, and so forth. Public factuality means that the events
could have been photographed or videotaped, had these
technologies been available then. . .But focusing on the public
factuality of the Easter stories risk missing their meanings."
(Marcus J. Borg, 'Jesus,' pp. 275-276).
No doubt when the trumpet sounds and it comes time for these folks to rise from the grave,
they will imitate their precursor in remaining there, while
other people enjoy hallucinatory experiences. Is there a circle of
Dante's hell like that? Jesus is the firstfruits of those who sleep:
"But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits
of them that slept." (1 Corinthians 15:20). His bodily
resurrection is the pattern and guarantee for our own. If His is
understood or imagined to be temporary, partial, and unreal, then
so will our promised resurrection be.