On this happy Easter morning, churches all over the world commemorate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. On the third day after His crucifixion on Calvary’s cross, Christ rose from the dead, and was seen by the devoted women who went early to the tomb (Matt. 28: 9). Subsequently, He appeared to His disciples (I Cor. 15: 5-8).
In line with the Lord’s resurrection, some may wonder: “What will our resurrected body be like?” or “What is the difference between our earthly body and our resurrected body?” What does the Bible tell us about the nature of the resurrected body?
o It will be a tangible body
Like our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we will experience a bodily resurrection: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I Jn. 3: 2). This means that our resurrection will be both tangible and literal.
Our Saviour physically rose from the dead. On the day of His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His despondent disciples in Jerusalem. Though they had heard numerous reports of Christ’s appearances, they had found the idea of the risen Saviour hard to accept. Believing “that they had seen a spirit”, they were fearful and perplexed (Lk. 24: 37). To allay their fears, Jesus said unto them: “Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet” (Lk. 24: 38-40). To prove further that He was not a spirit, as supposed by them, He “did eat before them” (Lk. 24: 43).
Luke 24 ends with Jesus instructing and blessing His disciples, after which He “was parted from them, and carried up into heaven” (Lk. 24: 51). Just as Christ was bodily “carried up into heaven”, He “shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1: 11). Christ will return visibly and gloriously in the clouds to the earth (Matt. 24: 30; 26: 64; Mk. 13: 26; 14: 62).
o It will be a glorified body
Because of the Fall, our earthly bodies are weak and fragile. Upon our Saviour’s return, we will be endowed with glorified bodies befitting our new home in Heaven.
The apostle Paul tells us that our bodies will be raised by our Lord Jesus Christ in power and glory. He “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Philp. 3: 21). How wonderful to know that our corrupt and vile bodies will be wonderfully transformed “like unto his glorious body”.
What our glorified bodies will be like remains a mystery. But they will have certain qualities which our earthly bodies do not have. “We get a glimpse of what our resurrection bodies will be like when we recall Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. He still had visible wounds, and His disciples could physically touch Him, yet He was able to travel effortlessly and appear and disappear at will. He could go through walls and doors yet could also eat and drink and sit and talk. Scripture informs us that ‘our vile body’ will be just ‘like unto glorious body’ (Philp. 3: 21). Indeed, the physical limitations imposed by sin that hinder our ability to fully serve Him on earth will be forever gone, freeing us to praise and serve and glorify Him for eternity” (https://www.gotquestions.org/resurrection-body.html).
Our earthly body is susceptible to aging, infirmities, diseases and ultimately death. But our glorified body is incorruptible – it will be free from sickness and decay: “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; 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” (I Cor. 15: 42-44).
“But it shall be raised in power by God’s power; it shall be raised a powerful body; no more impotent, weak, or feeble, but strong and active, vigorous and nimble; never subject more either to weariness or weakness” (William Burkitt’s Expository Notes).
o It will be an immortal body
By His death and resurrection, our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered our last enemy for us – “Death”. Like the apostle Paul, we can triumphantly proclaim: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15: 55-57).
What a comfort to know that when Jesus returns, we will have a glorified body that will live eternally: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (I Cor. 15: 51-53).
We thank God that for the redeemed, death has lost its sting (I Cor. 15: 55). In the resurrection, all who die in Christ will have a tangible, glorified and immortal body which will be free from all physical limitations and frailties. May we look forward to the joyous prospect of being in the eternal presence of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.