Lately, I have been thinking and researching the idea of resurrection, you know, the Christian idea that Jesus returned to a living state after a number of days. All of the shows about Jesus are not simply contained in the gospels. Many stories developed in the counsels of the early church over a period of some 1000 years.
According to the gospels, there seems to be some disagreement as to the actual number of days before he returned to life. Check it out for yourself in all four gospels. There are other discrepancies that make me wonder exactly what physically happened if anything. So, was it a physical resusitation of a dead body. I mean the scripture says Jesus seemed to be real, a live person, with a real body. He ate with folks, walked with them, they touched him, etc; But, he told the ladies at the tomb NOT to touch him (John 20:17). However, in Matthew 28:9, he tells the same ladies to TOUCH him. At various times after the resurrection, Jesus APPEARS to the disciples, then VANISHES (John 20:19, Mark 16:12). Jesus asks his disciples to touch him, including Thomas, the doubter (Luke 24:39, John 20: 27). Jesus eats with the disciples (John 21:12, Luke 24:43). So, was this a real, physical body?
The early Christians were, of course, influenced by their Jewish heritage, and scriptures. In the Jewish scriptures, there are frequent mentions of a place called SHEOL. It is the abode of the dead; ALL the dead. The New Testament scriptures say Jesus descended to SHEOL while he was in the grave. On most occasions when Sheol is mentioned, when one goes to sheol, he remains there. There are rare occasions where a return from Sheol is mentioned (I Samuel 2:6). It says that God brings people down to Sheol and then lifts them up.This seems to be the idea that the early followers of Jesus believed. In early Christianity, to be lifted up was to be exalted. This is a term often used in regard to Jesus; that God exalted him, or lifted him up. Interesting. Somewhere along the way Jesus appears to have gone from being lifted up, ie; exalted, to being raised, ?; to being resurrected. Resurrection means- a return from the dead, a rising again, as from decay, disuse, etc.; revival. A physical resusitation of a body is quite different from being exalted. I tend to think of exaltation as being a spritual act.
So what happened on Easter? What was it that led the early church to believe that Jesus was physically resurrected back to life? Was there confusion on the part of the early believers? Did the early church then have to decide what really happened with Jesus on Easter? It seems they did. And, the decision they made has continued to this day.