Was Jesus in a Flesh and Bone Body the 40 Days After His Resurrection?
Luke 24:36-40 - And as they thus spoke, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and said unto them, Peace be unto you.
37. But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.
38. And He said unto them, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
39. Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me have.
40. And when He had thus spoken, He showed them his hands and his feet.
In this passage we see that Jesus clearly wanted the disciples to know that his “body” was real, and not just an appearance (a spirit or phantom which had no solid substance). In fact, it seems that this was one of the main reasons for his appearance to them. He wanted them to “feel” his hands and feet, to know that He was real.
The New Testament makes clear the importance of “knowing” that Jesus was resurrected with a physical body. Consider:
1. 1 Corinthians 15: 3-7 – Here, Paul lists among the foundations of our “saving faith” the fact that Jesus died, was buried, was raised, and was seen of others. Paul continues in this chapter to refute the “intellectual” attitudes of the Corinthians who just could not bring themselves to believe in the reality of resurrection. It is essential to the Christian faith that Jesus was raised bodily. Paul’s teaching even continues into the reality of our future resurrection.
2. 1 John 1:1 – John presents that the evidence of our faith is in that which was heard, seen, looked upon, and handled with our hands. This word for handled means to touch so as to feel / to contact with the hand. What John was saying was, “we touched him, we felt his bones, we really knew He was there.” Certainly this was true of the disciples before Jesus death and resurrection. But, when we add this to the statement of Jesus in Luke 24, it is clear that Jesus wanted them to know absolutely that he was just as real after the resurrection as he was beforehand.
3. Luke 24:39 – Jesus said, “…handle me.” This word is the same as in 1 John 1:1, and as a command it means to verify something as real by physical contact with it. In other words, Jesus commanded them to verify his physical body. Why? So that the lies that the opposition would raise then, the arguments of the scoffers today, and the disdain of the intellectuals of all ages would be firmly and absolutely put to rest.
Jesus rose from the dead in a physical body! That is the truth – the fact. Oh yes, it was different (incorruptible / unlimited by time and distance / sustained not by the life that was in the blood, but by the Life of the Spirit), but it was real!
…There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44b). Since we will one day shed this natural body and be clothed in our spiritual body, let's examine what this new body will be like. The best way to learn about the resurrected body is to consider the type body our Lord had after His resurrection from the dead. As we do so, we will learn that the glorified resurrection body has seven distinct properties:
The Resurrection Body Has Composition
In John 20:14-17 we read how the Risen Lord appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden. In her anguish and grief at finding His body missing from the sepulcher, Mary didn't recognize her Lord. Instead, she thought He was the gardener who had taken His body away. Suddenly Jesus spoke her name and she recognized Him. Overjoyed, she reached out to Him: Jesus said unto her; Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God (v. 17).
Later on, the Lord appeared to two of His disciples who were returning from Jerusalem to their home in Emmaus. As they walked along the road, Jesus came and walked with them, but they didn't recognize Him. He talked with them about what had happened in Jerusalem, opening the scriptures to them as He taught them. When they stopped for the evening, the two urged the “stranger” to stay with them for the night:
“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 (Luke 24:30,31).
From these two incidents we can see that the Lord's resurrection body had composition. He talked with Mary Magdalene and told her not to touch Him, implying that His resurrected body was capable of being handled. When He met the two disciples, He walked on solid ground. He spoke with them as they traveled. He even sat at the table and broke bread with them. So it is obvious that in His resurrected state our Lord could stand and walk and sit and handle material objects.
Finally, we have the testimony of the Lord Jesus Himself. When He appeared unto His disciples in a locked room where they were assembled for fear of the Jews (John 20:19), Jesus spoke to them, telling them not to be afraid: And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side (v. 20).
Some days later, the Lord again appeared to His disciples, saying to doubtful Thomas: Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing (v. 27).
From these accounts, it seems quite clear that the resurrection body of our Lord had composition. It was tangible. It could touch and be touched, handle and be handled. It could perform physically just like the human body in which the disciples themselves were clothed.