Does Jesus bodily rising from the dead matter? I have waited for several weeks, in great anticipation to ask you that one question. Does Jesus rising bodily from the dead matter? Of all the posts in this Build a Jesus series, this is one of my favorites, and indeed I believe one of the most important!
“I am very comfortable not knowing whether of not the tomb was empty. Indeed the discovery of Jesus’ skeletal remains would not be a problem. It doesn’t matter, because easter is about resurrection not resuscitation.” -Marcus Borg
The above quote from Mr. Borg can be found in a book called The Meaning of Jesus which he wrote with N.T. Wright. The book claims to give two radically different views on topics related to Jesus, yet I have tremendous problems with both N.T. Wright and Marcus Borg’s theology. I want to pick apart Marcus Borg’s above statement, but there is not a lot to pick apart! Resuscitation is to revive someone from unconsciousness or apparent death, according to the dictionary. And the most literal translation of resurrection was to ‘rise again.’ In John chapter 11, we find the account of Lazarus’ death, and then the miracle of Jesus raising him from the dead. This is one of very few accounts of people being raised from the dead in all of the scripture! Lazarus was very dead, in fact some of those talking with Jesus didn’t think it would be such a good idea to open the grave because Lazarus had been dead for 4 days and “(Stunk)”!
For centuries, people have tried to skirt around a bodily resurrection of Jesus any way possible; can I just say, Jesus was Dead… very dead! It does not matter what Marcus Borg or any ‘theologian’ wants to think or the wording that he or she wants to use, the only way Jesus’ resurrection would be incredible is if it was bodily!
Let’s for just a minute indulge those that think Jesus possibly just rose in spirit from the grave. If Jesus just rose from the grave in spirit and not in the flesh, what would be the point?! I have little time for such mindless nonsense! Oh I forgot that I was supposed to be playing the devil’s advocate there! But seriously, almost everything that is spoken from that point on in the New Testament in some way or another comes back to Jesus rising Physically from the grave. Shortly after Jesus was in the grave, religious leaders asked for guards to watch His tomb because it was expected that Jesus’ followers would steal His body to psuedo-fufill His prophecy. What would the purpose of watching Jesus’ Body be, if those that had listened to the prophecy had understood Him to mean in spirit? More important than this to me is the fact that if Jesus did not rise bodily His followers could have claimed to see Him, but just made the whole thing up, and there would be no proof!
Without a bodily resurrection from the grave, Jesus would be in the same league as Big Foot or the Loch Ness monster! Jesus’ resurrection is so fundamentally important to the Christian faith that without it, we have nothing more than just another man made religion with claims that cannot be verified! The empty tomb dumbfounded Jesus’ critics and sent the religious community into a frenzy!