The Mystery of Embodied Life
Can the resurrection be defined? New Testament Professor, Dwight Peterson, ponders the mystery of both Jesus’s resurrection and the resurrection of humanity. Being a hospice patient and confined to a sick bed, Peterson sees the resurrection as something more than a theological idea, but a hope on which he still depends.
Questions for Reflection
1. Peterson is asked, “Where are you seeing signs of resurrection? Do you still believe in the resurrection?” To this he responds, “I believe in God still after all of this, and I believe in the resurrection after all of this. Exactly what the resurrection looks like, it’s hard to pin down...” Why might it still be difficult to believe in the resurrection when life is difficult?
2. Peterson alludes to a song by the group, The Imperials: Well it’s a great, great mornin’ Your first day in Heaven, When you stroll down the Golden Avenue.1 Peterson criticizes the content saying, “It’s way too literal.” How are these images too literal?
3. Peterson talks about three things that he expects the resurrection to be (It might be helpful to read these texts in order to see the whole context):
A. Bodily – “Jesus was raised in a body and he was the first fruits of future resurrection, and when we are raised we are raised in our bodies,” says Peterson. This is an allusion to 1 Corinthians 15:20.
B. Consistent with, but different from our physical bodies – In 1 Corinthians 15:35–44, the apostle Paul describes the physical body as a sown seed and the plant the physical body is compared to that which grows from the seed.
C. Mysterious – Examples are Mary Magdalene’s encounter with Jesus, but Mary thinks he is the gardener (John 20:11–18), and the disciples’ encounter with Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).
How do these examples help us to understand the resurrection, but also see that it is still a mystery?
4. Peterson says about the last example, “That failure to recognize Jesus has always fascinated me, and I think it means, at the very least, is a very mysterious animal.” How does keeping the mystery of the resurrection helpful to Christian faith?