What happened to the physical body of Jesus Christ after He ascended into heaven? Are we to believe that He physically and spiritually ascended into heaven?
Death is something that none of us really understands until it happens. Our hearts and brains have stopped functioning, and our physical bodies no longer sense the world around us. Our spirit has departed and our bodies are left. What happens next is too late to change. It is either good or bad. Some will end up in heaven and others in hell.
When Jesus died, His physical body stopped functioning just as our body will some day. But He came back to life on Sunday (Matthew 28:1-10). When Mary Magdalene arrived at the tomb that morning, His body was no longer in the tomb (John 20:2). In a few minutes she discovered that His new body was different. It had been transformed. In fact, it was so different that Mary Magdalene did not know who He was (John 20:14-16).
. . . she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” John 20:14-15 (NASB)
Jesus’ new immortal body was different, but later we discover that He was able to eat food just as He had always been able to do before (Luke 24:40-43). But His body was also different in other ways. His disciples found that He could walk through walls.
After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:26-28 (NASB)
They also found that He could immediately disappear if He desired.
When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. Luke 24:30-31 (NASB)
What Can We Learn?
There are several important facts about Jesus’ new body. First, His body was different from our physical bodies even though it was flesh and bone (Luke 24:39). Since Mary did not recognize Jesus’ newly transformed body, we discover that Jesus’ body did not look like His old one. Second, in His new body, He could eat and drink. Now that is wonderful. Just imagine eating in the kingdom with Jesus. Jesus told His disciples that He would eat with them in the kingdom (Luke 22:15-16). Third, Jesus’ body was able to go through walls, and He could simply vanish. Now our bodies cannot do that. Finally, Jesus returned to heaven both in spirit and with His new, immortal body.
Every man and woman will have a new body some day in the future. Some day God will give us transformed bodies. These new bodies will join our spirits. The apostle Paul tells us this in the following passage.
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (NASB)
What a wonderful future for those who are Christians! We will have fun in the earthly kingdom and in heaven. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
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