All humans will be resurrected. But the resurrection of the Saints is different from that of ordinary humans. There are differences in resurrections of humanity; as covered in Rev. 20:3-6, and Matt. 25:31ff, in agreement with Rev. 20:11ff. The resurrection of the Saints takes place at the second coming of Jesus. The resurrection that is shown as taking place on the Last Great Day is for the convenience of other people.
None Christians will be resurrected to face judgment, just as Christians are currently facing judgment. “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”(1 Peter 4:17 NIV).
The most essential appreciation is that Christianity cannot be practised, because of a lack of other things to do. Christianity ought to be the thing to do, in the life of a Christian. One cannot claim to be Christian and yet engage in other activities assumed to be beneficial.
Understanding the subject of resurrection is as important as appreciating the essence of Christianity. It is unnecessary for humans to live in physical bodies, which describes our death condition. The significance of the resurrection is not in Lazarus’ resurrection miracle, for instance.
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”(John 11:21-26 NIV).
The conversation between Jesus and Martha sought to highlight that Jesus was the resurrection and life. Humanity is dead, according to Adam’s pattern, after taking the wrong tree. Adam’s death meant the spiritual death of the entire humanity.
Some people live for over a hundred years, while others die young. Every person desires to live longer. But very few provide reasons for wanting to live longer. Others have dreams to accomplish, before death. But people grieve their loved one’s death, even without considering what they intended to accomplish.
Like other humans, Martha was grieving for Lazarus. Jesus performed miracles and saved many lives. Martha was convinced that if Jesus had been around, He could have saved Lazarus. Jesus had delayed coming to save Lazarus’ life. Martha knew that Lazarus had been attached to Jesus.
She ought not to have worried if she knew that Jesus was the resurrection and the life. Jesus told Martha that her brother would rise again. Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” What Martha was missing was that Jesus was the resurrection and the life.
The question of the future resurrection was immaterial. The resurrection of Jesus was not governed or limited by time. It was the restoration of what was lost in the Garden of Eden. That is what signifies resurrection, which reverses the death condition.
“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. But each in turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.
“For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he ‘has put everything under his feet.’ Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:21-28 NIV).
In Jesus, we ought to see someone able to restore what was lost through Adam. Martha was unaware of the reality that Jesus represented the resurrection. Jesus then posed a question, of whether she actually believed in that reality. “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:27 NIV).
Martha’s answer was perfect. But if Jesus was, indeed, the Messiah, what was there to worry about? Lazarus had physically died, but as connected to Jesus, why worry? Jesus had previously pronounced Lazarus’ death to His disciples. Was it necessary to restore His physical life?
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up” His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake, I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him”(John 11:11-15 NIV).
Jesus said Lazarus was asleep when humans assumed death. Humans understood falling asleep to mean loss of consciousness, but able to wake up again, later. This is what the disciples understood Jesus to mean. This was similar, except that Jesus meant the loss of physical life.
Lazarus was alive, because of his connection with Jesus. His life would have been preserved in paradise. Those attached to Jesus are safest, even after having left their bodies. For the sake of their understanding, Jesus had to tell them plainly that Lazarus had died.
The disciples struggled to understand life without the physical body. This necessitated Jesus to perform another miracle to restore Lazarus’ life. This would help them to appreciate the possibility of life restoration. The most peculiar thing about Jesus was reducing Himself to the level of those failing to understand him, especially the grieving people.
The death of Lazarus could not have been an issue to Jesus. But for the bereaving family’s sake, Jesus had to perform a miracle. But that resurrection was as temporary as our lives are temporary. He had to perform the miracle just to galvanize their faith in Jesus.
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go” (John 11:41-44 NIV).
Lazarus was not resurrected into eternal life, which is why they had to give him clothing. Jesus intended to show them His possession of God’s authority. In other words, this resurrection was meant to encourage His followers to remain loyal to Him, trusting everything He said.
The resurrection into eternal life is different from the physical resurrection. The miracle of a physical resurrection was not only for Lazarus. At the death of Jesus, there were some people who also got resurrected. But that did not mean those people would live forever.
“But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed, he gives its own body.
“Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies, but the splendour of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendour of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendour, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendour” (1Corinthians 15:35-41 NIV).
Paul reveals the resurrection, for which Jesus died, which does not sustain physical bodies. After His resurrection, Jesus showed Himself to His disciples. This was intended to strengthen their faith. But, He did not necessarily have to remain in that condition.
Jesus was resurrected in a celestial body, enabling Him to go through closed doors. His physical body was miraculously observed, ascending to heaven. This was designed to grant them reality to remove their doubt.
Thomas was outstanding, in terms of doubt, desiring to see the scars of Jesus, yet Jesus couldn’t remain with scars after the resurrection. His body was Heavenly, commonly unseen by physical eyes. He could manifest Himself in any other way, as appropriate.
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them.
Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:24-29 NIV).
The above anecdote shows Jesus with scars, just to convince Thomas. Even the forty days that Jesus had to spend with the disciples, after the resurrection, were intended to strengthen their faith. What Jesus said to Thomas, is quite revealing:
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29 NIV)
This explains why Paul said asking about the structure of celestial bodies was unwise. This cannot be different from assuming that God looks like humans. This comes from those stuck, on their physical nature, unable to appreciate anything outside the physical.
“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 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. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
“The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
“I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 42-52 NIV).
We cannot see Jesus, but that does not mean Jesus is not with us. He exists in the lives of Christians. There is no reason to try to configure how the Spirit looks, except to appreciate that the spirit is different from a physical structure. Jesus lives in the lives of true Christians.
The question of structure comes from those who are yet to believe in Jesus. Believing in Jesus means believing everything He taught, even without having seen the actual composition of what He said. This is what faith consists of, according to the projection given in Hebrews 11:1-3.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from the current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing relief to those having witnessed the strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. Most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long-awaited providential oasis of hope, in a simple conversational tone.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99