Sunday, May 2, 2010

What Manner of Body?

(Near the end of G. Campbell Morgan's helpful exposition of Luke)

(Paul wrote) that there are celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial. Moreover, there are other bodies. Sun, moon, and stars are neither celestial, nor terrestrial. One is solar, another lunar, others stellar. The word celestial, Epouraneos, above the sky, is purely relative, and in that sense may be applied to sun, moon, and stars. Here, however, Paul was using it to differentiate between bodies fitted for the terrestrial, or earthly sphere, and bodies fitted for a life that is super-terrestrial. But in either case there is corporeal reality. There is a body that belongs to the heavenly, and there is a body that is fitted for the earthly.

This, he then applies to the resurrection:

"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; (Soma gsucldkm;) it is raised a spiritual body (Soma pneumatikon). If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body."

Jesus, before He died, had a physical body, the earthly, the terrestrial. After His resurrection He had a spiritual body, the heavenly; the celestial. His resurrection body was no longer limited by the laws that limit the terrestrial body. He was the same. Look at His hands; look at His feet. He was capable of eating. But He was not the same. Personality is not dependent upon identity of material dwelling. None of us has the same body that we had seven years ago. There is not a particle of us here now that was us then. We are always fashioning the material dwelling-place. In resurrection there is not merely a change in the body, within the same material, there is a change in the character of the material, a body fitted for the higher reaches, but still a body.

That is the explanation of what these disciples saw in the upper room. All the appearings and disappearings of Jesus during those forty days are full of wonder. He appeared and He vanished, He appeared and He vanished, He appeared and He vanished. What was He doing? He was getting them accustomed to the fact, that even when He was not visible to the eyes of the earthly body, He was still present and available, and He might appear anywhere. His body was now changed so that at His will, He could talk to a woman in the garden the first thing in the morning, or He could talk to two for several miles on a walk, and they not know Him; and yet when He desired, there was no mistaking Him. "Mary." "Rabonni!" and she knew Him. He broke the bread, and they knew Him. Strange and wonderful mystery; but the fact that it is inexplicable by what we now know, does not mean that it is not actual. One day we shall perfectly understand, for that is the kind of body we shall have in resurrection life. So He presented Himself amongst them.

Now let us go on. He began to teach them.

"And He said unto them, These are My words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must needs be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning Me?”

Thus He did with the whole company in the upper room, in some senses, what He had done with the two walking to Emmaus.

"Beginning from Moses and from all the prophets," He had "interpreted to the two in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself ."

We are not told He gave interpretation to the group, but He did declare that all the Old Testament witnessed to Him. He named the whole of the Old Testament in its three great divisions, the Torah, which means the Law, which is often called "Moses;" the Nebiim, the Hebrew word for Prophets; and the Kethubim, or in the Greek, Hagiographa; and that third section was constantly called the Psalms, because the Psalms were placed first in it. All things, He said, must needs be fulfilled which are written therein concerning Him.

Luke tells us that, having made this declaration;

"Then opened He their mind, that they might understand the Scriptures."

He opened their minds. That word "opened" is a very remarkable one. The Greek word diomigo means to thoroughly open up. I do not know that there is any word in our language that may help us more than the word disentangled. That is what He did for their minds, freed them from all prejudice, from all pride, somehow dealt with their mentality so that the picture blurred, indistinct, out of focus. came sharply into focus, and they saw the whole thing, not in detail, but in sequence.

Then He summarized;

"Thus it is written, that the Messiah should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name unto all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

That is our Lord's summary of the teaching of the Old Testament, as proven true by His presence in the midst of that group in the upper room. The great fact, the Christ, suffering, and dying. The result, repentance and remission of sins, man's attitude, and God's act. That is the whole meaning of His mission.

The responsibility of His disciples is created by these things;

"Ye are witnesses of these things."

That was to be the whole business of those disciples. That remains the whole business of the Christian Church.

(Painting by Caravaggio)

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