Monday, October 18, 2010
JESUS: SOLID AS A ROCK!
(The following has been excerpted from my e-book "On the Lord's Table")
Most of you will be familiar with the Star Trek TV show. There have been a few spin-off programs and a few movies made. Star Trek has perhaps done more to advance the Theory of Evolution in the minds of people, than anything taught in secularistic school! If it is assumed that life evolved on earth then it's logical to assume it might evolve elsewhere in the universe! Hence all the weird and wonderful alien life forms on Star Trek. But I'm not wanting to talk about a TV program. I’d rather talk about Jesus Christ.
What does Star Trek have to do with Jesus Christ? Well, in Star Trek Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock got to walk through solid walls. I believe: “Beam me up, Scotty!” were the words they used in order to do it. Many, Christians today believe the Bible teaches that Jesus walked through walls.
Do the Scriptures really teach that Jesus walked through walls? Some of you may be thinking: Does it really matter? Well, these and other questions will be what we're seeking to answer in the following.
When you think of Jesus, what do you have in mind? Do you think of Jesus as God, and therefore as God He is able to do anything God can do, even walk through solid objects? Jesus is God and as God He can do anything God can do. However, we must not forget that Jesus is also a Man. He is One Divine Person with two distinct natures forever. He is the Son of God, the Second or Middle Person in the Trinity. But, at the same time He is also the Son of Man, the Second Man, ie, the Last Adam. He is the eternal Word become flesh. Jesus then, while at the same time being God, is also a Man. To be sure He is no ordinary man, but He is fully man – a real human being. As God He can do everything God can. But, and here’s the rub, as a man He can only do what a man can!
Now then, a spirit can walk through solid walls, but a man cannot walk through solid walls. As God Jesus is indeed everywhere, and in every room even at the same time. But as a Man Jesus is restricted – restricted to the confines of His own skin. When someone gives us a fright, we might say: “I nearly jumped out of my skin!” But truth be known, it's impossible for a human being to jump out of his skin.
Some people think it’s funny to put down other people. I’ve even heard it said, “So and so? – He’s a waste of space!” The human body takes up space, not “space the final frontier”, but rather your body, my body, takes up space the size and shape of your body. The writers of Star Trek fully knew this when they came up with the “beam me up!” scenario. “How can we transport a human being from point A to point B through solid objects? Let’s just scramble their body particles, beam them all elsewhere, then unscramble them!” But that’s impossible! “We know, but it’s only a TV show, you know, sci-fi, fantasy!
The trouble is that there are many millions of kids who have grown up who now think that some day men will really be able to pass through solid objects! “But!” I hear you say, “I know of a Man who can do that already! Jesus Christ! And some day, when I am resurrected I'll be able to walk through brick walls too! For doesn’t the Bible say that then I will be 'like Him?'” Is this what you have in mind? Well, is this what the Bible really teaches? Is it all just a question of mind over matter? Do you think the human Jesus could walk through a solid wall if He wanted to?
Was the resurrected Jesus just pure intellect, pure mind, and matter didn’t matter to Him? If you touched the resurrected Jesus would your hand simply pass through Him? If He touched you would His hand simply pass through you? Was the resurrected Jesus simply a spirit manifesting Himself for the sake of human eyes? “Jesus is God” I hear you say, “and as God He could make His hand pass through solid objects, even me, if He wanted! And He could be two places with His same body at once if He wanted! In fact He could be everywhere at once with His body if He wanted!”
Is this the kind of thinking going on in your mind? Do you think of the risen body of Jesus as ubiquitous? Do you think of His resurrected body as omnipresent? But can the human body of Jesus be everywhere at once? Can it be in more than one place at the same time? Is it really just a question of mind over matter for Jesus? If He wants to be in two places bodily at the same time it’s up to Him? If He wants to walk through solid walls bodily, then it’s up to Him? Can Jesus do with His body whatever He has a mind to? Do you think that matter doesn’t matter to Jesus?
These are serious questions. These questions impact on our understanding of Jesus. In fact, I would go as far as saying that these questions impact on our view of reality! I say this because all reality must be measured against Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Christ who gives meaning to all things. He is the measure of all things. The late Francis Schaeffer used to speak of true truth. Well, Jesus is real reality – not virtual reality, not just reality, but real reality! For the Scripture says, “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him ALL things consist” Col. 1:16b&17.
If all things consist in Him, ie, if all things have their basis, their existence IN Him, then I must look to Him for understanding in all things. But what would happen if my understanding of Jesus Christ was extremely limited, or worse, erroneous? Well, that would impact my view of all things; which includes everything else in creation. If Jesus is the measuring-stick of all things, and your copy of the measuring stick is off, then your understanding of the nature of things will be off too.
We live in an age where people think it’s physically possible for men to walk bodily through solid walls. This view of reality has been widely propagated by certain sci-fi programs such as Star Trek, as mentioned. But, I’d like to let you in on something, it’s as Solomon says, “There’s nothing new under the sun!”
This is simply the past revisiting the present. And it all stems from a faulty or erroneous view of Jesus Christ. I believe, it has more to do with the Transubstantiated Jesus of Rome than the real Jesus of Scripture. Therefore, I for one do not believe that the Man Jesus can walk through solid walls! Hence, I don't believe that it was just a question of “mind over matter” for Him!
What’s the matter with all of this kind of thinking? What’s wrong with Jesus walking through solid walls? What’s wrong with His body being ubiquitous? What’s wrong with Jesus being bodily present in more than one place at once? Well, it’s to confuse the two natures of Christ, for a start. It’s to mix His humanity with His deity and vice versa. It’s to ascribe divine attributes to a man – even the Man Jesus Christ!
Only God can be everywhere at once! The devil is pretty good at certain things. But not even the devil can be in Scotland and Australia at the same time. Where is the Scriptural proof that not even spirits can personally be everywhere at once? A good example might be the time Daniel prayed for help but it was three weeks in coming. The angel said to him, “Your words were heard and I have come because of your words. But the prince in the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia” Daniel 10:12b&13.
So, here you have an angel, a spirit being, being hindered from moving from point A to point B. Therefore, not even a spirit can be two or more places at once. These words are recorded in Job 2:2, “And the LORD said to Satan, 'From where do you come?' So Satan answered the LORD and said, 'From walking to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”
God is Creator and all other things are creatures. Angels are created beings, ie, creatures. Fallen angels, the devil, and all the demons are creatures. All human beings, even the human Jesus Christ is a creature! The body of Jesus was created and formed in the womb of the Virgin Mary – of her substance. His body was not pre-existent. It was made of the same substance as Mary and yours and mine. Yes, there is a vast difference between God as Creator, and angels and men. Only God is omnipresent because only God is God! Angels and men are not God.
This is where it starts to get a little bit tricky. God can “walk” through walls because He is omnipresent. Though you might not look at it as Him walking through walls, but God can be both outside and inside a locked room at the same time. What about an angel or a demon? Can an angel or a demon be both outside and inside a locked room at the same time? Well, we’ve already established the impossibility of this from Scripture. Angels and demons have to traverse the distance between point A and point B.
But may an angel or demon pass through a solid wall? We’d have to answer that in the affirmative. For example, the Bible speaks of demon-possession. Jesus commanded a legion of demons to come out of the demoniac and enter into a herd of pigs. In Mark 5:10 the demons begged Jesus earnestly that He not send them out of the country. Again, this proves that demons are anything but omnipresent. They could be sent out of the country, ie, from point A to point B!
Mark 5:12-13 says: “And all the demons begged Him, saying, ‘Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.’ And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand.)” The rest of the story you know, but the point is that demons can enter men and leave men. They can even go into pigs! We conclude then, that spirit beings can walk through walls too. For, to enter or leave a man or a pig is to enter and leave through a solid object.
We have seen that God alone can be everywhere at once. And that He can, as it were, walk through solid walls. And we’ve seen that angels and demons, ie, spirit beings can also go through walls. However, unlike God, spirit beings are not personally omnipresent.
As we home in on the matter at hand. What about human beings? Can a human being walk through a solid wall? Well, most "Trekies", ie, followers of Star Trek, think so. They think it's just a matter of time before the technology to do this will arrive. But what about you? Do you think a human being is able to walk through a solid wall?
Is Jesus Christ a human being? You have to answer that, yes, otherwise you are “Docetic.” Docetic comes from the Greek word dokeo – to seem, appear. "Docetism" is an ancient heresy which the Church has already dealt with. Let me give you Henry Bettenson's definition of Docetism, “The assertion that Christ’s human body was a phantasm, and that His sufferings and death were mere appearance. ‘If He suffered He was not God; if He was God He did not suffer.’” Documents of the Christian Church, p.50.
Today’s so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses, for instance, are Docetic in their view of Christ’s resurrected body. Are you? They think that Jesus’ resurrection body was a phantasm. They teach that the resurrected body of Jesus can ooze through solid objects, such as tomb walls. So then, was Jesus’ resurrected body a human body? Or was it a phantasm? In other words, was Jesus’ resurrected body real, or was it phantom? Did His body disolve into gasses as the Watchtower Society of New York Inc. teaches?
Was the resurrected Jesus merely a manifestation of His spirit? – a mere phantasm, a ghost? Was He like those angels at His empty tomb who appeared to be, ie, seemed to be, men? Well, Luke answers these questions in his Gospel. In Luke 24:36 we see after His resurrection Jesus standing in the midst of His disciples. Luke 24:37 says, “But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.”
Did you get that? His disciples are thinking that Jesus is a spirit. So what does Jesus do to demonstrate that He is NOT a spirit? What does He do to show them that He is indeed a human being, ie, the self-same human being who was nailed to the cross? In Luke 24:39 Jesus says to them, “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”
Here we have Jesus proving to His disciples that He is NOT a spirit. He even asked them for some food to prove that He was not a spirit. Luke 24:42-43, “So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honey-comb. And He took it and ate it in their presence.” So there you go! Jesus is a human being! He has flesh, and He has bones contained in that flesh. And He is able to chew food with His teeth and swallow it, just like other human beings. Therefore – and hold on to this – even spirits are limited in what they can do!
We have noted already that created spirits cannot be everywhere at once. But they can pass through solid objects – such as human beings, pigs, and presumably also brick walls. But here is Jesus proving that He is NOT a spirit. And, in proving that He is not a spirit, He is therefore proving that He cannot walk through solid walls! For, He is saying that a spirit does not have flesh and bones like Him. It is because a spirit does not have flesh and bones that it can pass through solid objects. It is because the spirit is immaterial that it can pass through material. But Jesus here is going to great lengths to prove that He IS material and NOT immaterial.
By way of proof He had His disciples handle Him, thus proving His body is as solid as theirs. And also the food He ate didn’t fall through Him to the ground when He put it in His mouth. They handled Him and He handled food. Their hands didn’t pass through Him, neither did His hands pass through the fish and honey-comb. We see then, that there are certain things a spirit cannot do. A spirit cannot have you handle him because a spirit is not made of flesh and bones. But the point being, Jesus wanted to reassure His disciples that it was really Him – with the self-same body He had before – who was present with them.
John, in his Gospel, tells us of two times that Jesus, after His resurrection, stood in a room full of His disciples, stood in their midst, when the doors of the room were shut (John 20:19, 26). In John 20:19 we’re told, “when the doors were shut Jesus came and stood in the midst.” And, in verse 26 we’re told, “Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst.” The $64,000 question is, How did Jesus manage to come and stand in their midst? Is it necessary for us to jump to the conclusion that, because the doors were shut, that He walked through a solid door or wall to be with them?
It’s the same kind of thing with Him exiting the Tomb. Must He have walked through the stone walls? Is it necessary for us to jump to the conclusion that the body of Jesus somehow oozed through the grave clothes? And also, related, did the materially resurrected Jesus dematerialize inside the sealed tomb in order to rematerialize outside of it? Is it possible just to apply a bit of common sense, Scriptural sense, when looking at these things? Or have we all been watching too much Star Trek?
We are all I'm sure familiar with the saying, “All roads lead to Rome.” I’m afraid that a Jesus who walks through walls is too close to the Romish Mass for me! The Church of Rome teaches that the bread and wine in their Mass become the real and actual body and blood of Christ.
What does all this have to do with what we've been looking at? Well, let’s say a Roman Catholic priest in Scotland and a Roman Catholic priest in Australia both celebrate the Mass at the exact same time. Let’s say they both were in buildings with the doors and windows firmly shut. According to Rome, the closed doors wouldn’t stop Christ from bodily entering that room. In other words, the real and actual body and the real and actual blood of Christ would just suddenly appear in both those rooms simultaneously! For they believe that Christ was referring to His actual body at the Last Supper, when He said, “This is My body.”
To say that the bread and wine change into the body and blood of Christ is to go beyond Scripture. It is to confound and confuse the two natures of Christ. It is to mix them. For, it is to ascribe divine attributes, incommunicable attributes, to Christ’s humanity. The humanity of Christ cannot be in two places at once! Only God the Creator can be two or more places at once! Only God is Omnipresent. Only God is truly ubiquitous! Hold on to the fact that Omnipresence is one of God’s incommunicable attributes.
Secondly, only a spirit can “walk” through solid walls. Jesus, as we’ve seen, went to great lengths to prove He wasn’t a spirit but rather He was fully Man. Therefore, do you really think Jesus Christ would try to undo that by oozing through solid walls, to suddenly appear behind closed doors, even in the Romish Mass or elsewhere?
I think we all need to be very, very careful with this one! Christian orthodoxy has already condemned Docetism as the heresy it is. It seems to me that we are in danger of resurrecting it with a Jesus who walks through walls!
How do we answer the questions, How did Christ get out of His grave clothes? How did He enter the room with closed doors? Well, surely it wouldn’t be too hard for an angel, who is able to walk through walls, to unwrap the grave clothes and fold them up? Perhaps it was the same angel who rolled away the stone for Jesus so that He could walk through the open doorway the tomb!
How did Jesus appear in a room with closed doors? Keep in mind that there was a time, before His resurrection, that a bunch of people wanted to throw Jesus over a cliff. Luke 4:30 says, “Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.” What prevented them from seeing Jesus so that He could just pass unnoticed through their midst? Jesus could have just as miraculously passed through the midst of His disciples as they all went into the room! Perhaps, for some reason, they just didn't see Him enter the room with them! He could have been in the room already but their eyes (like they eyes of those on the road to Emmaus), were withholding!
Jesus walked on water before His resurrection; but so did Peter! But you wouldn’t argue on account of this that Peter's body had special or divine qualities, would you? And, what about the floating axe head? Why then do some feel the need to ascribe divine attributes to Jesus’ body? Why is it that some folks wish to imagine Jesus walking bodily through solid walls and such like? Scripture nowhere explicitly says that He did this!
There’s much, much more that could be said and should be said about this. For, I fear the church nowadays is erring by mixing the two natures of Christ. But, I think we've been given enough to think about. I ask, What is your mind on this matter? Do you think that Jesus walks through solid walls? Or do you think we need to look at the Scriptures more carefully for the answer? I’m sure you’ll be happy to look further and deeper into this fascinating subject!