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Resurrection

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(C) Copyright by Massimo Franceschini all rights reserved

One of the clear differences between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints and other Christian denominations is that we believe in the literal resurrection of the body. This doctrine is directly connected with the fact that we believe that God, the Father, has a personal body.

Mankind, having forgotten his premortal life, finds it hard to believe and accept the resurrection of the physical body. Why? Because death is certain. We can see that everyday of our life and notice that no one goes untouched by it. As such, we accept it as a reality. On the other hand, the resurrection is merely a hope. We take it on faith because we have never seen a person become resurrected. We can dig up graves that are hundreds of years old and still find the remains of their body. Therefore, the resurrection is something that the natural man has a hard believing in.


In the scriptures there are eight instances of where the dead have come back to life. This in itself is very interesting and informative. In my article on "symbolism" I show that the number seven represents completeness while the number eight represents a new beginning. What makes this even more interesting is how these eight instances are broken down in the Bible. Three of these them are recorded in the Old Testament (the number three  represents perfection) and five of them are in the New Testament. However, four of these instances occurred at the hands of another person ( three plus four equals seven.) The fifth on mentioned in the New Testament is the resurrection of Christ, which was not brought about by anyone's hand. Jesus taught, "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again, No man taketh it from me, but I lay down of myself, I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." (John 10:17-18). This brings the total number of people mentioned in the Bible as having come back to life to eight, and indeed, the resurrection of Christ is a new beginning for mankind.

What were these eight incidents?

The first one happened by the hands of Elijha. In 1 King 17:18-23 we read, "And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again. And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth."

The second incident, which involves Elijah, is found in 2 King 4:32-36 "And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD. And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son."

The third incident is recorded in 2 king 13:20-21: "Elisha died and was buried. Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet."

In the New Testament, we have four cases of someone being raised from the dead. The first one is in Luke 7:11-15 where we read, "And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people. Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother."

The second one is found in Mark 5:35-43: "While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. And he charged them straitly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat."

The third incident involved Lazarus as found in the 11th chapter of John: "Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death,  but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

"Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth  the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit  Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

"Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which
should come into the world.

"And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

"When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself  cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

"Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him."

There are couple of things to note in this story. Why did Jesus wait so long before performing this miracle? The scripture tell us that Jesus cried over the death of His beloved friend. If he loved him so much, why did it take Him two more days before He got there? In verse 4 we're told that there was a divine purpose for this. What was that purpose? The Jews believed that the spirit of a man left the body after three days. By waiting three days there  was no way anyone could say that Lazarus wasn't dead.

The reason this was important was to help people understand that He, Jesus, was the resurrection and the life. And perhaps a more important reason was that a few short days later, Jesus Himself would die and come back to life. Many times when speaking of His own resurrection His words were misunderstood by His own closest disciples. They believed in the final resurrection, but they didn't believe that this event would happen to Jesus in their lifetime. It's very possible that the raising of Lazarus from the dead was meant to impress upon them in a powerful way the possibility of His own resurrection, thereby hoping they would have a better comprehension of what was about to happen.

The fourth incident of someone being raised from the dead is found in Acts 9:36-42 "Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and alms deeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid [her] in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring [him] that he would not delay to come to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning [him] to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her [his] hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord."

Then there is one other case mentioned in the Bible of someone coming back to life after being dead. This one, however, is the most transcendent event in all of human history. This was the completion of God's work. It was for this purpose that Jesus was born. The resurrection is the keystone of the gospel, Without the victory over death, no one could return back to the presence of God. The resurrection was the final act which sealed the victory of Christ over the tempter's powers and represented a new beginning for mankind.

His resurrection is so well explained that it is very difficult to misunderstand it's real meaning. Unfortunately almost all other churches don't accept this event for what it really is. The Jehovah's Witnesses point to Mark 16:12 where it says, "After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country." and claim that this verse means that Jesus changed his body to "another form." But is this the correct understanding? To gain a better comprehension of why these two disciples didn't recognize Jesus, we need only to look at the same incident as recorded in Luke 24:16-31 where it reads, "But their eyes were holden that they should not know him... And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight."

Why didn't these two disciples of Jesus recognize Him? Because their spiritual eyes were closed. It was only when "their eyes were open [that] they knew him." Let me give you a personal experience to illustrate this point. Last January I went to Italy unannounced to anyone except my parents. They were the only ones who knew I was coming. Since my son is serving a mission there, I asked his mission president permission to visit him. I thought that would be a great surprise for him. I arrived at the church he attended at the very time he was going in. I was still in my car, but still he saw me. Yet, strangely he didn't say anything and continued going into the chapel. I was the one who was really surprised. I knew he saw me, because we looked at each other for 3 to 4 seconds. But, instead of running up to greet me, he went in without saying a word. I closed the door of the car and I went in too. When I opened the chapel door and He saw me again, he jumped out his chair and ran to hug me crying. I asked him, why he didn't do this before when he saw me. He told me, "Dad, I saw you, but after I thought about it I knew it couldn't be possible because my dad is in the United States. Then I thought, it must be somebody who looks like him."

You see, when we think that something is impossible, we become blinded to the truth. I am sure that these two disciples of Christ had the same feeling that my son had. They couldn't' accept the reality of the resurrection. In fact if you go to verse 22 we read: "and certain women also of our company made us ASTONISHED."

The second reason why the Jehovah's Witnesses think that after his resurrection he left his body is given by John 20:19 where it says, "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you."

The fact that the doors were shut leads them to conclude Jesus had left his body, because no one with a physical body could do such a thing. However, the very next verse says, "And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD."

The wounds were there! Jesus was not a magician. He didn't leave His body in order to go through the wall and then right away take it back again to show his wounds. However to remove all doubts that His physical body had been brought back to life, especially for Thomas, eight days later He appeared to them again, but this time Thomas was there. In Luke 24:36-44 we read, "And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 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. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me."

The apostles "were terrified and affrighted, and supposed they had seen a spirit". In other words, THEY thought Jesus was a spirit. Certainly, if Jesus was indeed a spirit, He would have confirmed their thoughts. But instead He told them just the opposite. He invited them to handle Him and explained that a spirit doesn't have flesh and bones as He did at that very moment! Then He showed them "his hands and his feet" and gave them the opportunity to touch and feel Him for themselves. But that wasn't the only proof He gave that His physical body had returned to life. He asked for meat and bread and then sat down and ate with them! A spirit can't do that!

But the reality of Christ's body being resurrected is even easier than that to prove. If Jesus was only a spirit, who would have discovered that He had been resurrected? Nobody because His body would still have been in the tomb! The proof of His resurrection was the empty grave, meaning that His body was gone! This is what the Jews had feared. That's why they asked to have a great stone placed to seal the entrance of the sepulcher. Of course a spirit could go easily go through the stone, and the Jehovah's Witnesses acknowledge this. The purpose of placing the stone there was to prevent someone from taking the body.

The Catholics have their own problem when it comes to the resurrection. Since they believe in a Trinitarian God who is almost impossible to understand, they can't explain how Jesus could be a spirit and have a physical body since they believe that God is three persons in one and all three
are a spirit. Therefore, if Jesus was resurrected with his physical body does this mean He has changed the makeup of the Trinity? Do they now believe that two persons of the Trinity are in the spirit and one other person of the Trinity has a body and yet they are all the same person?

The Trinity is already hard enough to explain when all three persons are a spirit, so it is better not to try explaining the physical body aspect of it and make an impossible doctrine even more difficult to explain. However, they do have an answer. They solve the problem by saying that it is a "mystery of the faith." But there's another problem they have yet to solve. Since they worship Mary, the mother of Jesus, does that mean they have changed the Trinity in a Quadruplty?

The Protestants also maintain that God is a spirit. Therefore they have the same problem as the Catholics.

Is it possible that the Lord didn't give us a clear explanation about the resurrection in the scriptures? He did! Paul explained in1 Corinthians 15:35-42 "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption."

Notice that Paul begins by asking, "How are the dead raised up?" Are spirits dead or is only the physical body dead? Almost all Christian religions (the Jehovah's Witnesses are one exception) believe that man has a spirit that lives on after death. So the spirit isn't dead, only the body. Then what does Paul mean about raising up the dead? Can he possibly mean raising up the dead spirits? He leaves no doubt as he goes into a long explanation of  the different kinds of physical BODIES we shall inherit in the resurrection.

But if this isn't enough we get yet another explanation of the physical body coming back to life in Ezekiel 37:1-10 "The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: /And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon
these slain, that they may live So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army."

It was Jesus Himself who declared in John 2:19-21 "Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body."  Take note that it doesn't say "But he spake of the temple of his spirit."

These are three witnesses from the Bible that the resurrection refers to our physical body coming back to life again. Then every man will have his own body and will be able to hug his family and friends. This is my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ.

I HAVE MORE REFERENCES

acts 2:31

He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

acts 10:41

Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

acts 13:36-37

For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
37
But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption

isaiah 26:19

Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

I have received this e mail: "Most, I think, expect to be physically resurrected, though not of course as part of an evolution into Godhood.  "

I wrote my article because many Christians don't believe in the phisical resurrection, I guess the Jehovah's witnesses for example. Anyway regarding your concern for my lds perspective I could say that for me it is obvious we are sons of God Like Jesus, it is written that He is the firstborn in the spirit and the only one in the flesh, so we are brothers to Him and if we are brothers surely we have the same potential. It is interesting for me that Jesus loved to name Himself the Son of Man even because he wanted to make sure what kind of being was His personal Father and also there is just one place in the whole Bible in which Jesus say that the scriptures cannot be broken John 10:33-35 John 17:22 (Same glory)
Hebrews 2:11
I John 3:2
Revelation 2:26-27
Revelation 3:21
Luke 22:28-30

 

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