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"Christ...being put to death indeed in flesh,
but made alive in spirit."—1 Peter 3:18. Rotherham.
For forty days after His resurrection our Lord was with His disciples before His ascension. Yet He revealed Himself to them, according to the Records, not more than eleven times in all—and some of these instances are probably duplications. His interviews with the disciples lasted only a few minutes each, except on the walk to Emmaus. These manifestations were attended by circumstances and conditions which spoke in thunder tones of a great change which had occurred to Him. Evidently He was no longer the same being, although He had the same loving interest in them as before. He was still their Lord and Master, the same Jesus, though no longer Jesus in the flesh. He was now "the Lord, that Spirit," "a quickening Spirit."
There is no Scriptural statement to the effect that Jesus arose in the flesh. We have noted the Scriptures very carefully, and find none of them to say that Jesus arose in the flesh. On the contrary, we find, as the Apostle declares, "Now the Lord is that Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:17.) St. Paul in telling us how he saw the Lord Jesus, says that he saw the Lord, not in the flesh, but shining "above the brightness of the sun" "at noonday."—Acts 26:13-15.
The Apostle tells us that the Church is to be a spirit body: "It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor; 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." (I Corinthians 15:42-44.) He tells us that our experiences in the resurrection must be similar to those of our Lord. In our Lord's case there was a sowing in dishonor and raising in glory; a sowing an animal body and a raising a spirit body. St. Peter calls attention to this fact when he says, "Christ...being put to death indeed in flesh, but made alive in spirit."—I Peter 3:18. Rotherham.
The question, then, arises, How could the Lord be raised a spirit body? We can merely give you the Word of the Lord for it. He was raised so. The new nature began when our Lord was begotten of the Holy Spirit at the time of His baptism, and was completed when he was perfected as a spirit being at His Resurrection.
The various Scriptures which are cited about Jesus' appearance in bodies of flesh do not prove that Jesus had a body of flesh; for angels have appeared among mankind in fleshly bodies. And when Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared, or materialized, in the same way that He had appeared to Abraham in olden times. (Genesis 18:1,2; 15:4,5.) One of His manifestations after His resurrection was when He took a walk with two of His disciples to Emmaus and sat down with them to supper. When He broke bread, He became known to them and vanished out of their sight!—Luke 24:30,31.
In the case when He appeared to His disciples, it is stated that He came into the room where they were, "when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews." We read further along, that eight days later He again appeared in the same room, in the same manner, "the doors being shut." (John 20:19,26.) These things were evidently to show the disciples that He was no longer a flesh being, but a spirit being. During the forty days after His resurrection He appeared, probably, not more than three hours in all. He remained with them to establish their faith, so that they might be able to receive the Holy Spirit at the proper time.
In answer to a question about Philip's vanishing from the sight of the eunuch, and being found at Azotus, we reply that God was able to take him away. But there was nothing said about his being made a spirit being. Philip will, no doubt, in due time share with the Lord the change of nature in the First Resurrection—"in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye"; for "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God."—I Corinthians 15:52,50.
When Jesus appeared in Jerusalem in the midst of His disciples and they were affrighted, He said, "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself: handle Me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have." (Luke 24:39.) He was there impressing upon them that they were not SEEING a spirit being, a spirit body. They saw a materialized body. The Lord was a Spirit all the time, however, and the flesh and bones were merely agents of appearance. So our Lord appeared in flesh and bones, and He also appeared in clothing.
Where did the flesh and bones come from? The same place that the clothing came from. The human body of flesh and bones, etc., and its clothing, which appeared suddenly while the doors were shut, did not go out of the door, but simply disappeared, or dissolved, into the same elements from which He had created them a few moments before. "He vanished [Greek, ginomai aphantos, became non-manifest, i.e., invisible. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance.] out of their sight" (Luke 24:31), and was no longer seen of them when the flesh and bones and clothing in which He had manifested Himself were dissolved, though doubtless He was still with them—invisibly present; so also much of the time during those forty days.
The power manifested by our Lord, to create and dissolve the clothing in which He appeared, was just as superhuman as the creating and dissolving of His assumed human body; and the body was no more His glorious spirit body than were the clothes He wore. It will be remembered that the seamless robe and other clothing which our Redeemer wore before His crucifixion had been divided among the Roman soldiers, and that the grave clothes were left folded away in the sepulcher (John 19:23,24,40; 20:5-7), so that the clothing in which He appeared on the different occasions mentioned must have been specially created.
Our thought is that our Lord was perfect in the flesh when He was a man, and that He gave Himself an Offering, as a Ransom-price for Adam. "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor." "A body hast Thou prepared Me." (Hebrews 2:9; 10:5.) That earthly, human body of flesh suffered death; and God would not [R5223 : page 122] again make Him flesh, but He raised our Lord from the dead a New Creature of the Divine nature. After His resurrection our Lord said to His Apostles, "All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth."—Matthew 28:18.
All this indicates to us the great change that came to our Lord at the time of His resurrection. If He is now merely a man, He is still "lower than the angels." And to think of our Lord as a man and lower than the angels is contrary to the Lord's Word that He is exalted far above angels to the Divine nature. "And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."—Philippians 2:8-11.