When we examine the question of form and nature regarding humanity and Jesus Christ, it is of the utmost importance that we examine 1 John 3:1-2, which reads: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” This short passage is something that ought to fill us with at least some degree of humility, for if the Apostle John, who was the Apostle Jesus loved, and someone with a high degree of knowledge about the plan of God, did not know what we shall be when we are resurrected into eternal life, then it remains futile to speculate too much on the question of the form of those who are a part of God’s family . Where the Word of God is modest, we must be equally modest ourselves and not exceed our biblical warrant in speculation.
It should be noted that this restraint has not always been practiced when it comes to an understanding of matters related to the form and nature of the post-resurrection Jesus Christ. After all, it is very clear that Jesus Christ is viewed as the first example of a sort of being that will include all of those whose names are written in the Book of Life. Jesus Christ was the firstborn into the new life, with resurrection into eternal life from death, and what He is as a resurrected and eternal being is what we will become. That much we know. Yet much remains unclear as well. With a recognition that we do not know what it means to be a being in the God Family with eternal life, the passage quoted here promises that we who enter into the Kingdom of God will be like Christ, and so that which is true about Jesus Christ in His post-resurrection form will be true of us as well. Let us spend at least some time discussing what that will involve.
In 1 Corinthians 15:42-49, we see the Apostle Paul describing the different aspects of form that involve life: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. 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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.”The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.” This language is admittedly general, but it is easy enough to understand what is meant–human beings as corruptible and mortal and fallen human beings cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. First they must take on the nature of the heavenly Man by becoming like Jesus Christ after repenting as human beings, and then their mortal human forms must be sown in death and raised as spiritual bodies.
While the Bible does not give a great deal of detail as to what that Spiritual body entails, there are at least some indications of what it means from the post-resurrection behavior of Jesus Christ. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Apostle John is the one who gives us most of the details of what a post-resurrection body is like. We see from John 20:20-21 that the post resurrection body does not obey the normal laws that govern matter, as it is able to pass through solid objects like locked doors. Yet at the same time the body can be recognized by people, as Jesus’ post-resurrection body bore the scars on his wrist and the spear wound in His side suffered during the crucifixion. This evidence was compelling enough to prove to Thomas, who missed Jesus’ first appearing, that he was indeed looking at His lord and master rather than some sort of apparition. John 21 reveals that Jesus Christ’s post-resurrection form was clearly able to handle the mundane tasks of breaking bread and cooking up fish that the disciples had caught.
Yet aside from passing through doors without trouble, it is clear that the post-resurrection form is free from the limitations that human beings face. Instantaneous transportation is clearly an aspect of the post-resurrection form, as we see in at least three situations. First, there is the implied ascension where Jesus Christ served as the wave sheaf offering on the first day of the week between the time that Mary Magdalene tried to cling to Jesus’ body and the detailed examination that the ten apostles present in the locked room were able to see of Jesus’ wounds. Second, there is the conversation that Jesus had with the disciples along the road to Emmaus, followed by his visit to the Apostles. Third, there is the sudden disappearance of Jesus Christ into the heavens after 40 days on earth, where it was promised by the angel in Acts 1 that He would return just the same way He left when it is time to inaugurate the millennial kingdom. This is not a huge degree of knowledge about the capabilities and form of the post-resurrection body, to be sure, but at least we know something about it rather than not having any knowledge or insight about what it will be like when we awaken from death and sleep into eternal life.
John is right to be modest about the extent of His knowledge into what it is like to be an eternal being in the God Family. He is right both to point to Jesus Christ as the model of this form of existence as well as to disclaim any firm knowledge of what living like that feels like. It is important that we retain a large degree of humility when we deal with questions about the form and nature of Jesus Christ. On the one hand, we know that Jesus Christ is the trailblazer of the path that we seek to follow as His brethren and as the adopted children of God. The uniqueness of Jesus Christ as an eternal being who existed for all time notwithstanding, the manner in which he suffered torment and death in the form of humanity and then was raised incorruptible is a model for a process we look forward to as well. We do not know all of the aspects of life as an eternal being. Indeed, we do not fully understand our own life as mortal human beings. The relationship between mind and brain, body and spirit is obscure to us and we do not fully understand even those aspects of form and nature that deal with our own present existence as human beings. Obviously we do not have the insight to understand what it is like to live without our human limitations and corruptible nature as fully glorified Children of God. But one day, God willing, we will fully understand what that means and how that feels.
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