From Gandalf the Grey to Harry the Potter, resurrection is all the rage. Anyone can do it, as long as you’re a fictional character.
Reality is another matter: God became man: daring, but commonplace among the gods of the ancient world. God suffered the shame and agony of a torturous death: more scandalous, because when the gods become men they usually stack the deck in their favor. But God--risen from the dead? Still fully Man and fully God? That’s off the charts.
There is a Man seated on the throne of heaven: born of a woman, toiled in sweat, bled and died, risen in body, seated on the throne, and still human, always divine. God begot himself, and he sits enthroned, surrounded by humanity worshipping the image of God in a Man, because that Man is God.
Not everyone thinks so. Consider theologian Marcus Borg: “What would it mean to say that the risen Jesus is a physical/bodily reality? That he continues to be a molecular, protoplasmic, corpuscular being existing somewhere? Does that make any sense? How can the risen and living Jesus be all around us and with us, present everywhere, if he is bodily and physical?” I’m not fit to carry Dr. Borg’s theology books, but yes, Marcus, it makes sense to me.
Perhaps you’ve never taken time to consider the possibility: there’s a Man on the throne of heaven because a Man was raised from the dead. He is the Last Adam and the firstborn over all creation. He completes the work of creation in the Garden, and begins the work of the New Creation, anticipating the day when there is a new heaven, a new earth, a new Jerusalem, filled with people, each born of woman, each worshipping their Older Brother. This means that Easter is not only about the Father has done in Jesus Christ, it is also about what awaits us.
The Apostle Paul riffs on this very idea in First Corinthians:
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. ~ 1 Corinthians 15: 20-22
Anticipating Mr. T by nineteen centuries, Paul pities the fool who only follows Jesus in this life, without hope for a life to come--a literal, physical, “corpuscular” life in the next age. He assures us that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is not only Jesus’ victory over sin and death, but also the Father’s promise that we, too, will be raised up in the same manner as Jesus: that is, in a corpuscular body. (In my disagreement with Marcus Borg I’m grateful that he has taught me a new word. I learned, too, that some of us are more corpuscular than others. And it’s fun to say. Try it: “corpuscular.”)
In this resurrection chapter Paul teaches us that every kind of body has a “splendor.” Animals, birds, fish, and men had splendorous bodies. But the world has only gotten a short preview of the most splendorous body of all: the body of Jesus, the risen Lord. It is an amphibious body, capable of operating in this age and the age to come. The body of the risen Jesus could walk, talk, eat, and drink, yet it was not constrained by bothersome things such as doors and locks. The body of the risen Jesus was frightening, beautiful, and strangely unrecognizable--until he spoke your name or broke the bread of life, after which you wonder why you didn’t know it was him from the start. It is a body that can be seen with human eyes, hugged by human arms and touched with human hands.
The body of the risen Jesus exerts dominion over sickness and death, yet strangely bears the scars of it’s earlier existence. I have marveled at this for decades: the Father raised the body of Jesus to life, but chose to leave the scars of crucifixion in place. It tells me that we will carry the memories of our suffering from the past into our resurrected life, but the pain will be gone. In fact, the scars will become part of our testimony to the greatness of God. There is hope for every suffering person that their pain will be fuel to burn with testimony for Jesus.
Paul tells us that the good news of the Resurrection is first about Jesus and the glory of God, but that good news teaches us that we, too, will have a splendor and glory of our own, which we can offer to him in the age to come. This weekend, when we consider the majesty of Jesus: God, Man, Savior, and King, we can also catch a glimpse of the place he is preparing for us as well.