Resurrection. Have you ever tried to imagine it? What does it look like? What actually happened to Jesus’ body? Do you imagine the color beginning to flow back into his flesh, then his eyes opening, then his arms and legs moving to throw off the burial cloth? But the cloth was not disturbed, so how could this be? Or do you imagine a sort of explosion in which his body’s molecules somehow disintegrated and re-formed outside the linen? This might help to explain the Shroud of Turin. Whatever it was, it was something beyond our human experience or even imagining, because resurrection has no place within the biology/physics/chemistry of our world. It is totally outside anything we know.
Well, you might say, what about Lazarus? What about current reports of people who have died and come back, with stories of their journey through a tunnel, toward a great light? I would say these are not resurrections, but resuscitations. They come back to the familiar biological workings of this world, to their same body. But Jesus’ resurrected body is different, often difficult to recognize as him, no longer obeying the physics of this world as he appears and disappears through solid walls. The testimony of scripture is that he is objectively real, not a disembodied spirit but a real body that can eat and can be touched; and that body seems to exist in a different reality that interpenetrates what we know, but is governed by different laws. It is a world that is all around us, invisible but as close as the air we breathe. Sometimes we feel its presence, seemingly on the other side of a thin veil. And according to Jesus, it is our destiny and destination, as well.
Modern people have a very understandable tendency to assume that there is nothing but what we can apprehend or infer through our senses. After all, the whole vast universe appears to obey the same natural laws, which we codify into scientific facts that we use to exert control over nature. In modern times, our technological knowledge has expanded to the point where many now promote faith in science to eradicate all problems and give mankind total control. In this atmosphere, to suggest that the reality we know about is really not everything, is just a container in which a certain set of natural laws operates; and that there is a much greater reality transcending it all, is tantamount to heresy – or perhaps psychosis – or perhaps a throwback to primitive, mythological thinking. Very hard, indeed, to believe, and I think many Christians try hard to explain it away in scientifically acceptable terms.
But there stands the resurrected Jesus. Not a resuscitation. Not a disembodied spirit. The very proof of that greater reality that he called “the Kingdom of Heaven;” and, if we believe, guarantor of our place of belonging in it.