Project Canterbury

From The Works of the Rt. Rev. Charles C. Grafton (Volume 7),
edited by B. Talbot Rogers, New York: Longmans, Green, 1914, pp. 228-234


June 17, 1911


THERE seems to be some confusion of thought amongst good Church people respecting both our Lord's Resurrection and our own.

I. Our Lord's Resurrection was a real bodily one and not a mere subjective one in the minds of the Apostles. We are thus bound to believe in its reality. A modern German theory that His Resurrection was simply a revival of His spiritual influence and old teachings in the minds of His Apostles is not in accordance with Holy Scripture. It is disproved by the fact that our Lord greatly added to His former teachings; and during the great Forty Days revealed the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, His mediatorial royalty and reign, instituted the sacrament of Baptism, gave the great Commission to the Apostles, and promised to be with them to the end of all days. This fuller teaching as declared by the Apostles shows that they were possessed of something more than Christ's former instructions. This possession of new and most important truths gained from the risen Lord proves that the Resurrection was not a mere subjective remembrance of only former teaching.

II. The Body that rose was identical with that which was crucified. Some have denied this. They have taught that the Body which was laid in the tomb in some unexplained way disappeared, and that a new spiritual body took its place. We are asked, these critics say, to believe in the actual resuscitation and reappearance of a physical body. Now the identity of the Crucified with the risen Body is proved among other evidences by the wounds in Christ's Hands and Feet and Side.

It does not follow, because the risen Body was now controlled by its spiritual nature, that it was not the same body. Herein our critics make a logical error. Another more important one lies in supposing that our Lord rose from the dead in the same way that Lazarus rose. Now Christ did not come back to His former condition of life as Lazarus did, but conquering death, passed through it, and issued forth into a new condition of life. The Resurrection is not the story of how a dead man came to life again, but how the God-Man, who is the Resurrection and the Life, conquered death. He became thereby the Head of a new Order of Life.

Herein, too, we see why our Lord did not appear to His enemies. It would have done them no good, for as before, they would have ascribed, if they accepted it, His Resurrection to the work of Beelzebub. But the true reason why He did not appear to His enemies was because He had finished that portion of His prophetical work. Just as in the order of nature the geological periods do not repeat themselves, but Creation moves on, God ever building on, but not repeating, the past; so in the spiritual order, Christ had done with His public ministration to the world. When He rose, He gathered round about Him those whom He had associated with Him in the formation of His new kingdom and who were to be partakers of His Resurrection Life. The point is, He did not come back to His old life, but passed through death, and if we may use the expression, came out on the other side of it.

III. Consider how He did this. First, our Lord, by His own action, separates His Body and Soul. He had said, "I have power to lay down My life," and He did so. He deliberately separated His Soul from His Body. But neither Body nor Soul was separated from His Deity.

A useful illustration is that Christ's Body and Soul were like a soldier's sword and sheath hanging at the soldier's side. The soldier draws his sword, and holds it in his hand. The sheath remains united to his person. In like manner, while our Lord's Soul and Body were separated, they continued to be united to His Divine Nature. "When," says Hooker, "His soul forsook the tabernacle of His body, His Deity forsook neither body nor soul." Thus His Body, while in the tomb, being united to Deity, was in the tomb a living thing. It was not dead, in the sense our bodies are dead. Our bodies are dead because separated from the soul, which is their vital principle. But Christ's Body, being united with His divine nature, was an indestructibly living thing, and could not see corruption.

When His soul came back from Hades, and was united to His body, He rose. During His former condition, His Body had preternatural powers. He could walk on the water. He could be transfigured. He could disappear at will. He seemingly restrained the exercise of such powers. However, be this as it may, when He rose His Body was either free from its former limiting conditions, or endowed with new powers. It was agile, subtle, luminous. We call it a spiritual body because, though the same Body as was laid in the tomb, the Body did not control the spirit as it formerly did, but the Body obeyed the spirit. It could go from place to place at its own will. He could pass through the grave-clothes which had been wrapped around Him, and were found fallen down flat. So, likewise, He passed through the sides of the rocky tomb. The stone was rolled away by an angel for the admission of His disciples. His Body passed through the closed doors. It vanished at Emmaus at the breaking of the Bread. A further glory awaited it, as we learn from St. John. We thus believe in the identity of our Lord's Risen with His Crucified Body, though the process of its glorification had begun.

IV. Our new life depends upon His. Our souls, immortal by their nature, receive from Him the further gift of eternal life. A union by grace is begun here with Him, which terminates for the faithful in a union with God in Christ in glory. As His soul enjoyed, by virtue of its union with Deity, the Beatific Vision, so Christians are at last to attain to this vision, through union with Him. This new and special union is the source of our permanence in that state of blessedness.

But as Christ redeemed both body and soul, our bodies will share in that future glory. We are told that Christ "will change our vile body," i.e., the body of our humiliation, "and make it like unto His own glorious Body." It is therefore necessary first that our body, when separated from the soul or its life principle, should see corruption, which His Body, being united to Deity, could not. It is necessary that we should put off the present body, derived from the first Adam, in order to be clothed upon with a body derived from Christ. These two principles of decay and renewal are to be seen in the natural order. Our bodies are perpetually decaying, and continually being resuscitated by the reception of new particles of matter by way of food. This aids us to understand our resurrection. First there must be a dissolution of the body. "That which thou so west is not quickened except it die." Then it is clothed upon by Christ's body. "Whoso eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." The fathers thus called the Eucharist "the resurrection food."

The source of our risen body is thus to be found in our Lord's Risen Body. In His likeness we are to be transformed. When and how, is not fully or specifically revealed. We may believe it is a process begun now through the reception of the Blessed Sacrament. It may be complete in a fuller condition at our Lord's second coming. All that is of faith is that from our union with the humanity of Christ our bodies along with our souls, redeemed by Him, will attain to a union with God, which we now know by faith, in glory.

There are those who hold that the same particles of matter which compose our bodies at the time of our death will be summoned by Almighty power together and so form our resurrection body. But this would not give us bodies fitted for a heavenly state, or like unto the glorious body of our Blessed Lord. We shall, by the possession of bodies, though glorified, be able to recognize one another, as the Apostles did the risen Christ, while we participate in joys beyond all that we can now conceive.

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