Have you ever noticed that when Jesus appears to people after the Resurrection, there’s usually a fleshy part of his visitation? His followers touch Jesus (Matthew 28:9, Luke 24:37-40, John 20:20, 27-28) or Jesus eats with his followers (Luke 24:30, 24:41-43, John21:12-13). Almost every time he appears, there’s some proof that this is not just a “ghost” or “spirit”–this is a real, flesh-and-blood person coming among them.
What does this mean? Why does it matter?
Well, first, it means that resurrection isn’t just about the soul–the body gets resurrected, too. The whole package deal, body and soul, is redeemed and re-created and resurrected. We don’t leave our bodies behind. Instead, our whole being is taken by God and made holy and pure. We like to think of the world as dualistic, flesh=bad and spirit=good. We like to think of the physical world as evil, corrupted, temporary, something that will be destroyed when Christ comes again, while the spirit is pure and holy and eternal, merely waiting to be freed from the evils of the material world. This is not the case, as Jesus showed us in his appearances after the Resurrection. The body is just as involved as the spirit.
Remember that in Genesis, when God creates the world he calls it good, repeatedly. It has been corrupted by sin, yes, but was created good, and ultimately belongs to God. Our souls, as well, were created good but were corrupted by sin. Both are alike, that way. Both need to be cleansed of sin and death. Both depend on the mercy and grace of God.
Again, what does this mean? What effect does it have on our daily life? It means we can’t just ignore the world around us. Too often, Christians try to withdraw from the world and concern themselves only with “spiritual” matters. Or we separate “spiritual” concerns from “worldly” concerns, as if they have nothing to do with one another, as if God has no use in the everyday world. But God is the Creator of all, God is the Redeemer of all, God is the Sanctifyer of all. We are called to live as God’s people in the world, to spread the light of God, to spread God’s Word, to work for God’s kingdom. And we can’t do that if we try to separate the physical from the spiritual.
Christ came to his disciples, and ate with them. He let them feel his flesh. He was truly among them. Let us, as his disciples, follow his example.