Saturday, July 28, 2018

At the tomb

One puzzling detail in John's resurrection account is why Jesus tells Mary Magdalene not to touch him (Jn 20:17). That's a head-scratcher. Another enigmatic detail is why she fails to recognize him by sight (vv14-16). Likewise, how Jesus accessed the upper room, when the doors were locked. If the accounts are legendary, it's inexplicable why the narrator would fabricate baffling details. 

i) I've commented on all these details before. A naturalistic explanation for the Magdalene's failure to recognize Jesus is that it was still too dark to see clearly. If the women set out as soon as possible, if they set out before sunup, at first light, when it was just bright enough to find their way to the cemetery, it may have been too dim for the Magdalene to make out Jesus' features. In addition, if he was standing with the sunrise behind him, his face would be in the shadows. 

ii) Here's a supernatural explanation. Jesus was about 33 when he died. The hot dry climate is hard on the complexion. He spend lots of time out of doors, so he may have had a prematurely aged appearance. A very weathered complexion. Not to mention how fatiguing his ministry was. 

One effect of glorification is rejuvenation. If a Christian dies at 95, they don't be resurrected at 95. They will be resurrected at an optimal age. 

Suppose Jesus was resurrected as a 20-year-old. In that event, the Resurrection may have taken some twenties years off his appearance, if he was looking closer to 40 at the time of death. If so, he'd bear an eerie resemblance to the Jesus she knew, but how could it be Jesus if he wasn't nearly that young? That may explain her disorientation. 

iii) I suppose there's the question of whether Jesus underwent the aging process. If senescence is due to original sin, and Jesus is impeccable, then was he exempt from the aging process? That may depend in part on whether Adam and Eve were naturally mortal or immortal. Was immortality conferred by the tree of life?

But even if senescence is a consequence of original sin, a vicarious atonement might require Jesus to assume the punitive effects of original sin despite his impeccability. 


  1. That's a very good supposition.

  2. What is your take on the explanation for why Jesus still had marks or scars of his wounds?

    1. But does Jesus still have scars from his wounds? I'm not so sure. I know it's debatable, but I don't think John 20:27 necessarily implies Jesus did have scars from his wounds.

      However, if Jesus did have scars from his wounds in his resurrected body at the time Thomas saw Jesus, that might simply mean it takes time for the resurrected body to fully heal from its wounds.

    2. A charismatic once told me that he had a vision of heaven and that the saints were perfect in form but that only Jesus was marred with scars. I don't know whether he really had such a vision, but Jesus continuing to have scars would seem to be similar to how dueling scars were once a badge of honor among academic fencers. They were such a source of pride that they could be called "bragging scars". Tattoos have also had a similar function in various cultures to represent warrior status or war veteran status. I think it's appropriate for the Son of God to forever display the marks of his Redemptive Victory which also serve as eternal reminders to the redeemed of the cost of their salvation. Causing them to love their Redeemer all the more.

    3. The idea that Jesus is incapable of fully healing his scars (or holes in his hands) is theologically ridiculous. Whether or not he has scars, therefore depend on whether or not Jesus chooses to have them, and that choice of the Lord is not revealed in scripture.

    4. i) The purpose of the scars is to demonstrate physical continuity. And that, in turn, is additional confirmatory evidence to ID Jesus.

      ii) In many cases, scars don't affect functionality. That's different from more serious injuries like amputees or permanent brain damage.

      iii) In the case of Jesus, there was an intact, well-preserved corpse to resurrect. That's one reason why the scars carry over. It's the same body.

      In many cases resurrection must start from scratch because the original body disintegrated. In that case, I don't know if we'd keep our scars.

      Might depend on whether the scars are disfiguring. Scars are a bit like landmarks and memorials. Reminders of things that happen to us in this life. A physical counterpart to memory. In that respect, it's not a bad thing to retain some scars.

    5. I'll also point out that not all scars are permanent either, as I've lost a few scars over the years. Most of it happened when I did a period of prolonged fasting since that sparked autophagy and my body used up a lot of old proteins. From what I've read (and the experience seems to match) your body will often target scar tissue when it's starting to tighten up your skin when you fast.

      In any case, given the body's natural ability to repair itself, I think it is possible that a 95-year-old resurrects as a 95-year-old who rejuvenates. I wouldn't argue one way or the other on that (I actually lean toward Steve's view, personally). But under that scenario, Christ had scars because He was just resurrected and His resurrected body was still healing.

      Either way, the existence or non-existence of scars isn't a big deal theologically.

  3. I preached once that Jesus will scars to remind us for all eternity what our sins cost him.

  4. I'll add to the supernatural explanation above and please note that what follows is speculative. Ok -

    ~ I think that the Bible just might show that resurrection is linked to some kind of a reversal of physical aging.

    There was an article recently in Criswell Theol Review that argued that Abraham was the first shadow of the resurrection from the dead. This is seen in particular in Abraham's being empowered to conceive a son in his old age which is "nothing less than a proto-resurrection".

    Now the article does not discuss aging, but I want to bring that in with an odd observation. Here is how.

    1) In Genesis 18, we see God telling Abraham that Sarah will bear him a child. Abraham laughs and says "Will Sarah bear a child at the age ninety?"

    2) Genesis 20 - Once again God comes and tells 99 year old Abraham (and Sarah) that he is going to have a child. Sarah being at the entrance to the tent, catches wind of it and laughs.

    Now at this point, these two presumably are not just an old couple who happen to look young and have hale and healthy bodies, but rather they're seniors who have senior bodies, in all of its glory. Their flesh is dead.

    3) Then we have the Sodom & Gomorrah episode and following that something interesting happens. Abraham and tribe head for Gerar.

    Here in Gerar, 90 year old Sarah catches Abimelech's eye and he takes her to become his wife. How can Abimelech take a 90 year old woman to be his wife? This is odd. My explanation:

    ~ I think that a supernatural reversal of aging took place. Their bodies became younger or rather went back to a stage where the bodies were physically optimal.

    This also was not simply God doing them a nice miracle. This is God "resurrecting" a man, whose body was "as good as dead" (Rom 4:18+). This is God rejuvenating impotent Abraham and barren Sarah bodies via a process taking some period of time. It did not happen overnight as scars do stick around for a while. Anyway a 2 cent conjecture.

    ~ Raj