Easter always stirs conversations about the credibility of the resurrection. Some believe the Bible’s version is trustworthy, while others give no credence to Scripture’s testimony whatsoever. In an attempt to bring balance to the discussion, one group offers a middle-ground theory they hope will work for everyone.
Here’s why it won’t.
To give everyone a heads up before the crucifixion and the resurrection took place, Jesus talked about it…several times. For instance, in Matthew 16, we read, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (John’s Gospel even teases this spectacular climax as early as the 2nd chapter!)
Of course, to prove this wildly unnatural phenomenon, Jesus would have to produce a body. A living body. His own living body! The Apostle Paul agrees. In 1 Corinthians 15, he writes that unless the resurrection is true – with authentication provided – Christians’ faith is useless and they should be pitied above all other people.
So, the argument boils down to a body. If Jesus was raised bodily, then God’s Word is telling the truth. If Jesus didn’t rise bodily, lots of questions remain.
And that’s precisely where the middle-ground theory comes into play. Proponents claim that a resurrected body of Jesus is not necessary to verify the Easter story. They have no problem saying, “Jesus rose,” as long as it’s not attached to a literal body. For example, they can say, “Jesus rose, spiritually speaking,” or, “Jesus rose in the hearts of the disciples.”
It’s as if this group is trying to make lemonade out of (their perceived) lemons. “Hmm, perhaps we can work around the absurd parts of the Easter story. Even though Jesus didn’t literally rise from the dead – because science is now advanced enough to tell us that’s impossible – we can still salvage some meaning from the ancient account.”
But this theory cannot be reconciled with the fact that Jesus used His literal body as evidence of His resurrection (Luke 24:39), to eat a meal with His disciples (Luke 24:42-43), and to show Himself to approximately 500 witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:6). Maybe that’s why author Eric Metaxas calls their line of thinking “linguistic fudge.”
It’s as though I would say to my wife, “Let me help you with those heavy packages – metaphorically speaking.” Or as though I would tell my landlord, “The rent check is in the mail. Spiritually speaking.” Or as though I would say to my daughter, “I love you so much I would die for you. Figuratively speaking!”
That line of thinking doesn’t work anywhere else in our world of reason and rationality. It won’t work in discussing the resurrection, either.
His body died. His body rose! Praise God for all that means for us!
Miracles by Eric Metaxas. Dutton, 2014. Pages 96-97.
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