Conversation #1 – Questions about the Resurrection
Read Mark 16:1-8 (read to the end of the chapter)
Have you ever noticed that the end of Mark is a little confusing? Does Mark end at verse 8 or does it end with verse 20? What does it mean when the Bible tells us that the earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have verses 9–20? There are plenty of links below to give you the whole story … but in short most modern Bible scholars believe that “It is virtually certain that 16:9–20 is a later addition and not the original ending of the Gospel of Mark.” We believe that Mark originally finished his gospel at verse 8 with no account of any sightings of the risen Jesus … but when the New Testament Canon was being put together, the editors and copyists in some manuscripts to try to remedy things by adding a little more at the end.
However, I think that there is something profound at the way that Mark ends his gospel. For the women and the disciples, the angelic news of the resurrection brings bewilderment, fear and a whole lot of questions. I think it is the same with many people in our church and local community – when we talk of a risen Jesus, for some people it raises many questions. In this conversation we consider some of the questions that people are pondering…
- The “Strange” Ending of the Gospel of Mark and Why It Makes All the Difference
- Bible Project – The “Missing” End of Mark’s Gospel
- The Gospel Coalition – What Do You Do with The End of Mark’s Gospel?
- The Gospel Coalition – Was Mark 16:9–20 Originally Part of Mark’s Gospel?
- Early Church History – long or short ending in Mark?
Question #1 –
Was Jesus resurrection a bodily resurrection, or a spiritual resurrection or a bit of both?
Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth affirms the core belief of the Christian faith – that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead and therefore we have faith that we too will be raised from the dead when we die. The question that has been debated over the centuries is – what does this resurrection look like? Was Jesus raised to life in a bodily form or a spiritual form or a little bit of both. Split into smaller groups at the different sides of the debate. Which one sit most comfortably with you?
The Bodily Resurrection of Jesus:
On this side of the debate, the belief is that Jesus was resurrected in bodily form … the grave was empty, therefore Jesus was not only alive, but in his original body with the nail holes etc.
- Luke 24:1-3 … there was no body in the tomb
- Luke 24:36-40 … Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.
- Luke 24:41-43 … Do you have anything to eat?
A Spiritual Resurrection of Jesus:
Jesus was resurrected, not resuscitated. It is less about the body but more about the Spirit that is alive and lives on eternally.
- 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 … it is raised a spiritual body
- Romans 6:5-7 … We have a resurrection like Jesus … so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with
- 2 Timothy 1:9-10 … Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality
- Acts 9:1-7 … Saul/Paul meets the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus (but the others couldn’t see)
Both a physical and spiritual resurrection … or a new spiritual body
- John 20:19-20 … Jesus appeared to them even though the doors were locked.
- 1 Corinthians 15:35-40 … We have an earthly body and a heavenly body
- Romans 8:10-11 … God will give life to your mortal bodies because of the spirit who lives in you.
What do you think? Was the resurrection of Jesus a bodily resurrection, or a spiritual resurrection or a bit of both?
- GotGuestions – Why is the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ so important?
- Why a “Spiritual” Resurrection is the Only Sensible Option
- Catholic.Com – Christ’s Resurrection: Bodily or Only Spiritual?
Question #2 –
Was the Resurrection of Jesus real or just a story to push forward an agenda?
Read Matthew 27:62-66 and Matthew 28:11-15
In the Biblical Resurrection narrative, Matthew tells us that there were people actively spreading the story that the resurrection of Jesus was not real but rather just the disciples pushing forward with their agenda. People over the centuries and even today still try to come up with hypothesis how the resurrection of Jesus is not a miracle but can be simply explained away. We cover some of the evidence for the resurrection in the next conversation, but you may like to read through the following four hypothesis against the resurrection of Jesus and discuss the points and flaws of each:
Lost body hypothesis – the body of Jesus was lost during the earthquake of Matthew 28:2. The earthquake moved the stone and the body of Jesus fell into a crevice produced by the earthquake.
Stolen body hypothesis – Jesus tomb was found empty not because he was resurrected, but because the body had been hidden somewhere else by the apostles or unknown persons. Matthew refutes this in Matthew 28:11-15
Swoon hypothesis – Jesus did not die on the cross, but merely fell unconscious (“swooned”), and was later revived in the coolness of the tomb in the same mortal body. John refutes this in John 19:31-37
What other theories have you heard? How would you respond to someone if they raised one of these hypothesis as proof that Jesus is not alive?
Question #3 –
What does the resurrection of Jesus mean?
Read Galatians 2:20
The resurrection of Jesus is not just a story but has significant implications for our theology and understanding of faith and life. Paul argues that if the resurrection is not real, then our faith is useless … but if the resurrection is real then it changes everything! The following are just a few examples of the many implications of what the resurrection means for us. Have a read through and see which ones connect best with your understanding of what the resurrection means for you!
Ways of understanding what the resurrection means to us:
1) The Resurrection vindicates Christ’s Claims and Predictions esp that he was the Christ
What would you think of a man who, in every visible respect, appeared ordinary yet claimed to be the Son of God? What if he also claimed to be deserving of equal honour with God? What if he even claimed to have God’s power and authority to forgive sin? Prior to His death and resurrection, Jesus shocked people by making many such claims of personal deity, power, and authority (cf. Matt. 16:15-17; Mark 2:10-11; Luke 22:69-70; John 5:21-23; John 8:58; John 10:30).
In addition to His claims of deity and authority, Jesus repeatedly predicted His own death and resurrection (cf. Matthew 17:22-23; Matthew 20:17-19; John 2:18-22). Jesus’ claims were so unbelievable that most people rejected Him. Even when He rose from the dead and appeared to many witnesses (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8), most refused to believe. But Jesus’ true disciples saw His resurrection as the vindication of all of His claims and the fulfillment of His predictions. These were not naive people who were persuaded to believe something that was false. They simply recognized the fact that Jesus did rise from the dead, and so proved to the world that everything He said about Himself was true.
2) The Resurrection of Jesus affirms the Old Testament prophecies of Jesus being the Messiah, Saviour and King
The writers of the New Testament saw the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, particularly as it concerned the coming of the Messiah as King. This was the core message of Peter’s Pentecost speech at Pentecost (Acts 2:22-36) where he showed to the Jewish crowd that this Jesus who was crucified and rose again is actually the King of Kings and the promised Messiah!
3) A Source of Hope for Believers for our own resurrection
Christians are assured in the Bible that Christ’s bodily resurrection is certain proof of their own future bodily resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 affirms Jesus is “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Jesus himself promises in John 6:40 that we too will be raised up on the last day. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead, God will raise us too to an eternal life.
4) It Is A Comfort For Those Who Have Died Or Face Death
Not only is Jesus resurrection an assurance of our resurrection, it brings us comfort as we grieve those whom we have loved who has died. In John 14:1-3, Jesus says that we do not have to be troubled when those we love die because Jesus himself is preparing a place in his Father’s house for those who love him. When comforting Martha, Jesus also spoke of the resurrection that comes through him (John 11:21-27). Also Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 “God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him”
5) It is connected to our own baptisms/confirmation
Paul in his letters uses the imagery that the death and resurrection of Jesus is reflected in our own baptisms. For example in Romans 6:1-11 Paul ties our own turning away from sin to a new life in Christ with the imagery of Jesus’ death and resurrection. In Colossians 2:12 Paul writes that we have “been buried with Jesus in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.”
6) The resurrection of Jesus means that I can personally know and be in relationship with the risen Jesus
The apostle Paul says that he met the risen Jesus even though he was not born at the right time (1 Corinthians 15:8) In the same way, we can know the risen Jesus because Jesus is still alive and can personally interact with us in prayer and other ways. Revelation 3:20 talks about an invitation of the risen Jesus to come into our lives and be with us. And in the reading at the beginning (Galatians 2:20) Paul says that the risen Jesus lives in us!
What does the resurrection mean to you?
- GOTQuestions – Why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ important?
- GOTQuestions – What did Jesus mean when He said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25)?
- ABC Religion & Ethics – The meaning of the resurrection – then and now
- Understanding the Resurrection by Daryl Wingerd
- Christianity.com – What Does the Resurrection Mean for Us?