Every year around Easter articles are published in which doubts are expressed about the trustworthiness of the Biblical stories about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some call the stories on the Gospel ‘pure nonsense.’ Some who want to be polite say that the stories about the resurrection of Jesus were an invention of His disciples to keep courage and to continue with their ministry, otherwise the three-and-a-halve years with Jesus had been in vain. Some – even some scholars - think that in the coolness of the tomb the body revived – Jesus had not really been dead, but had been near death and the disciples made some deal with the Romans to get Him out off the tomb and cared for Him.
I want to react to that last suggestion: I cannot understand how critics dare to make this suggestion for the wounds and terrible injuries of Jesus were that serious that if He had still lived in the tomb He should according to our present understanding immediately have been taken to the intensive care unit of the best hospital in the neighbourhood to have a possibility to come back to a normal life!
Many cannot believe in- and accept a personal resurrection from death whereby the identity of the person is preserved. Those who believe in the possibility of reincarnation, say that living creatures as men and animals return several times to this planet, but each time as another individual or even as some Eastern religions say, as another living creature, an animal or insect. Believing in reincarnation as another individual leads to absurd decisions as opening a saving account for the next life so that they will be not be then without a some financial security. But you have to prove in your next life that you are that person that opened that savings-account in your former life.
Some like to think about the risen Lord Jesus as a kind of reincarnation of the former person. However, the risen Lord was not a reincarnation, tLet this be clear from the Gospel records. The risen Lord was the same individual as before with the same identity and the complete characteristics of His body and personality. The physical wounds and injuries were still in His body and His disciples could after they recovered from their shock recognize Him again as their Lord, (John 20:24-29). But there was a great difference as we look at sensational qualities He had now. He could suddenly appear, come into room while the doors were shut and suddenly disappear. When He went to heaven He rose from the surface and floated higher and higher until He disappeared in a cloud.
It is clear that the risen human being will enter a different dimension of existence, which I would call as the Scriptures do, a glorified, heavenly body. You could call this: a super-physical life, still human, still having the same identity and qualities. This kind of existence is above our intelligence and cannot be understood in a scientific way. All who believe in Him will be raised in the same kind of existence as Christ was, having an eternal, glorified or heavenly body, (Philippians 3:20,21).
A new, heavenly life after death shall always have to face unbelief for it cannot be proved on a scientific way. But this is also true for those so called remembrances of a former life, that seem to come to the surface of consciousness in certain therapies.
The conclusion is unavoidable. The resurrection life that Jesus demonstrated before the eyes of His disciples cannot be called a reincarnation. He had the same body that was recognized by His disciples, but it had a new quality of existence. If I make a comparison between the quality before and after death, I say that in the present life the body of man determines where his spirit is present and in the new, resurrected and heavenly life his spirit determines where his body and consciousness are present. The risen Lord Jesus is the first human being that demonstrated this new way of human existence before the eyes of His disciples. Those who believe in Him now will after death and at their resurrection receive the same new quality of life, (1 Corinthians 15:20, 44-49). We do not hesitate to declare and confess with great joy with all Christians, (Lucas 24:34): The LORD is risen indeed!
Pastor T. J. de Ruiter, in The Netherlands, March 2012
T. J. de Ruiter