Why was it so important to Jesus that His disciples really understand His resurrection from the dead? The disciples had their doubts. Our text confirms that fact. Even though Jesus appeared to them, they had a hard time believing it was Jesus, the man they had been following for the last three years.
But Jesus continued to have patience with them. He revealed Himself to them on numerous occasions so that they would know that He had risen from the dead. In verse 45 of the text it even says that Jesus gave them understanding so that they could make sense of all that was written about Him in the Bible. They could connect all the dots, which would allow them to have a complete understanding of Jesus and His mission, and how humanity fits in all of this.
Jesus wanted His disciples to "get it." He wanted the disciples to understand that God has a plan for us physical beings, namely that we won’t cease to exist or turn into some kind of spiritual phantom after we die. God has a plan for us, which is that we become physical beings in His new kingdom. God is going to transform us. He is going to raise us from the dead; and when He does, He will give us perfect, glorified bodies. This is what He wanted His disciples to understand because once they understood it, they could begin the next phase of God’s plan, which was to tell the world that we will all be raised from the dead just as Jesus was.
The physical changes that God will cause in us will prepare us to live in Jesus’ kingdom. Just as God gave us the bodies we have now so that we can function in this world, so will He give a transformed body so that we will be able to function in His kingdom. Jesus’ revealing Himself to the disciples was intended to give them a glimpse into the future. They, too, as well as we, will have bodies of flesh and bone in Jesus’ new earth, which both Isaiah and John mention.
In our text, Jesus says touch me, and look at me. A spirit doesn’t have flesh and bone, but a physical being does.
This text has profound implications for us. It partially answers the question I’m sure most of have, and that is, what will we be doing in God’s kingdom? We sometimes think that it’s going to be boring there because all we will be doing is worshipping God. The fun things that we do here on earth won’t be there. Maybe some of us think that God’s kingdom will disappoint us. "Pastor is hyping up the kingdom of God, but it won’t be as spectacular as he makes it out to be."
Well, let me say this: the kingdom of God is not going to be boring. Boredom exists in a sinful world. It’s a consequence of sin. Boredom is a sign of discontentment. However, boredom doesn’t exist in God’s kingdom. There will be no presence of sin, hence no boredom. Only happiness and bliss.
And we will be doing things. That’s the whole reason behind raising our bodies. This is what Jesus wanted to make clear to His disciples. We won’t be just sitting around God’s kingdom doing nothing. We would have no need of a body then. John, in the Book of Revelation, describes God’s kingdom. There will be a city where God will dwell. People will come and go. There will be fruit trees and a river. There will be no night there. We will be in no need of sleep. Read Revelation 21 and 22 for yourselves.
The main point here is that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to His disciples to show them what kind of a body they would rise from the dead with and live in God’s kingdom. Jesus was in essence telling them, "You’re going to need this kind of body in my kingdom because you will be doing things." That’s why Jesus really wanted the disciples to understand the purpose of the resurrection. There is a practical reason for Jesus’ rising from the dead. Jesus didn’t rise from the dead just because or to show off His power. He was motivated to die on the cross for our sins and rise from the dead so that we will be able to stand in the presence of God with our new selves, which we have to be in order to live with Him forever.
Jesus’ rising from the dead has more of a significance than we sometimes think. Taken by itself, Jesus’ resurrection appears to be just a great event for us to marvel at. But if we look at Jesus’ resurrection in a broader context, we begin to understand what the resurrection means for us personally. And it partially answers the question about what we will do in God’s kingdom. Our risen bodies will allow us to do things. We won’t be inert beings.
Everything Jesus has done for us in terms of our salvation fits together. His birth in our world, His suffering and dying for our sins, His resurrection from the dead, and His coming again should be looked at in their entirety and not as isolated events that aren’t interconnected. When we consider all these events together, God’s plan makes much more sense. That’s why we need to look at Jesus’ appearing to His disciples in our text in the broader context of these other events. Then this event in our text becomes more than just another miracle of Jesus which causes us to drop our jaw.
That’s why Jesus went to great lengths to convince the disciples He had risen from the dead. He wanted to make sure they got it so they would understand the rest of God’s plan of salvation.
I’m sure most of us have put a puzzle together. When we look at the individual pieces, they don’t make sense to us. It’s when we start putting them together that a picture comes into view. Once all the pieces are put in place, we have the complete picture. The same holds true with God’s plan of salvation. Jesus’ appearing to His disciples in our text is another piece to give us a complete picture.
This ought to bring us great joy. Jesus is revealing to us what will happen to us. I’m sure that’s of concern to us. Often times in life, we wonder how things are going to turn out for us in life. What will be doing next year, five years from now, ten years from now and so on. What will life be like for us. And to be honest, we don’t know. But when we think about what is going to happen to us after we depart this life, Jesus gives us a glimpse. He gives us some certainty. We will be raised from the dead and be given a body like His.
I pray that God will give us confidence and remove any doubt or lack of surety we may have. Jesus is giving us a picture of what will happen to us. And it will be wonderful. So the next time we find ourselves down and burdened by the cares and worries of this world, remember that Jesus intends to change us into something perfect so that we can participate in the life
He has planned for us in eternity.