The Superhero Bodies of Easter

I struggled to understand the significance of resurrection for most of my life since the churches I grew up in seemed to say that everything of significance was found in the cross. Sure, resurrection was cool too, but it seemed like a divine CPR of sorts. It was just a thing that happened after the cross for a brief moment that more or less meant that Jesus was still in charge. The cross was what really saved us and some day our spirits would float up to Heaven because of it.

But the cross actually doesn’t matter at all if there’s no resurrection. To quote Paul, “If the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

Paul goes on to explain what resurrection is all about. Resurrection isn’t about floating up to Heaven when we die, it’s about putting on a new kind of body in the age to come so that we can come back to earth and live here again in the way that God always intended. And this will all be possible because of that new body.

We’re so used to Jesus doing weird stuff in the Bible, that we rarely separate the weird stuff Jesus did after the resurrection from the stuff he did before it. But the things Jesus’ resurrected body did were of another level of weirdness. Jesus’ new body didn’t quite look the same as his old body because people failed to recognize him (or at the very least he could mask himself in some way). It could vanish out of sight at will and appear in locked rooms, kind of like angelic bodies. But like physical bodies, it could still eat. And weirder still, it could ascend into heaven, where physical bodies didn’t belong.

Paul understood this kind of body to be a spiritual/physical hybrid and he couldn’t stop talking about it. And in a world full of obsessions of superheroes, who would want to keep quiet about it now?

Resurrection is not about going to Heaven as a spirit when you die. Resurrection is about putting on the same physical/spiritual hybrid body that Jesus did and coming back to a renewed earth to live eternally in bodies that cannot die or even get hurt. Going to Heaven in the spirit is just a phase along the way of resurrection.

One day the earth will be shaken and everything that doesn’t belong in the age to come will fall to pieces. But perhaps the places in which we have already installed Heaven will not be shaken to the ground with everything else. Perhaps, though I die, I will one day be restationed in a new Jackson to serve the resurrected there. With heaven and earth having become one, perhaps I’ll travel back and forth between the two with a new body capable of such marvels. Perhaps.

The resurrection life of the Bible is both concrete and a mystery. I cannot conceive of what a spiritual life in Heaven will be like and it often leaves me confused. But I most certainly can conceive of coming back home and everything on earth finally being right, and that infuses me with excitement. The world to come will be familiar and unrecognizable at the same time. Life will continue, though not exactly as it was before.

Easter is a day that points to the age to come. For if Jesus is the firstborn of the dead and his resurrection foreshadows new creation, that means his followers are the secondborn who inherit that resurrection alongside him.

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