Saturday, August 5, 2017

Complete Man

And Joseph died, a hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him; and he was put in a coffin in Egypt (Genesis 50:26)
Jesus therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, was deeply moved in spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye put him? (John 11:33–34)

I was struck by the wording of Genesis 50, that when Joseph died they put him in a coffin. Were I to have written Genesis 50, I likely would have said they put his body in a coffin. But the Word of God doesn't say that.

In John 11, when the Lord Jesus came to Bethany after the death of Lazarus, He asked, "Where have ye put him?" Again, we might expect He would ask, "Where have you put his body?" but that's not at all what He asked. He asked, "Where have you put him?"

It is unfortunate, but it is nevertheless true that we frequently allow one truth to block our view of another. It is true that the Epistles (especially Paul's epistles) call us to walk in new creation. But it is no less true that God has created us body, soul, and spirit. We have belong to a world that none of us have actually seen: we wait for a new heaven and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13). At the same time, we're not going to get there without physical bodies. We are groaning, waiting for the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23). Philippians 3:21 says it best, we're waiting for the Son of God from heaven, who will change our mortal bodies to be like His.

2 Corinthians 5:1–8 bring this into sharp focus. We're groaning while we await "our house from heaven": we want to be free of these fallen bodies, but we're not really wanting to be incorporeal spirits – we don't want to be unclothed – what we want is to have our bodies redeemed.

God has created us to be both physical and spiritual beings. We're not complete without our bodies. The scripture testifies to this fact every time it talks about "him" being buried. Being absent from the body is being present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23–24), but that doesn't change the fact that our hope is to be made like Christ, and our bodies will be changed to be like His (Philippians 3:20–21).

It's a striking thought that those who are now with the Lord are still awaiting resurrection. I can't see any other way to understand 1 Thessalonians 4:15–18.

We notice 1 Corinthians 15:3–8 describes the Lord Himself the same way as Joseph and Lazarus – "He was buried" (1 Corinthians 15:4). John's Gospel uses language more like what we might expect: John 19:38–40 talks about "the body of Jesus". But notice the final verse in the chapter ends with "on account of the preparation of the Jews, because the tomb was near, they laid Jesus" (John 19:42).

The language of 1 Corinthians 15:4 and John 19:42 insists that the Son of God is a Man. There are a lot of heresies out there about the incarnation, but the truth is the Son of God became a Man. And He is still a Man. The Second Man is coming from Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:47). I am sure this is what Exodus 21:2–6 is describing: the Son of God has become the Son of Man, and He isn't willing to go free. He will judge as the Son of Man (John 5:26–27) in the last day.

I find it easy to slip into a sort of Gnosticism, probably because I spend a lot of time thinking about our life here in fallen bodies. But the truth of Scripture is not that we are waiting to be free of our bodies, it's that we're waiting for the Son of God to come and change them. For some that will involve resurrection, others will be changed without dying (1 Corinthians 15:51). But in either case, we are called to glorify God in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). We're not called to a non-physical spirituality, but an intensely physical one. I find it easy to lose sight of that.


HandWrittenWord said...

Biblical truth, Mark. Excellent job of pointing out our tendency to a form of Gnosticism, even if subconsciously.

I was struck just this past week in a way I had not previously experienced with regard to the John 11 passage:

Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
Jesus said unto her, "I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
"And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
(John 11:23-26 NKJV, emphasis mine)

In some wonderful, mysterious way that we can never fully comprehend in this life (at least, I don't think we can), the resurrection is not simply something that Jesus bestows, or brings about. The "resurrection" and "the life", are JESUS HIMSELF.

And in the final verse above, Jesus says that whoever "lives (in Me) and believes in Me" -- shall never die. And He asks us, just as He asked Martha, "Do you believe this?"

Do we?

Rodger said...

A valuable and insightful post, Mark. Just yesterday, I was struck in looking at Philippians 3:20-21 that Paul speaks so strongly of the changing of our bodies, when we see our Saviour whom we are looking for; that that is the consequence he has especially before him.

Rodger said...

I like this blog.

Susan said...

I like this blog too.

Susan said...

While we're waiting for the Son of God to come and change our bodies, let us rejoice that even now we are “complete in Him” (Col. 2:10)..

Robert said...

When we return to the beginning, there were 4 days of creation where God ‘saw that it was good’. However at the end of day 6, ‘God saw everything that He had made and, behold, it was very good.’

‘God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.’

There is that about manhood that is ‘very good’ in the sight of God. ‘Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also likewise took part of the same…’Heb 2:14

He was troubled in His body: John 11:33.He was troubled in His soul John 12:27. He was troubled in His spirit John 13:21