Catholic Q&A

Christianity states that Christ was resurrected from the dead. Do we have to take it seriously when people say that a dead individual has been raised to life again and so on?

Now just a minute. In Christianity, “resurrection” does not mean revival of a dead person. “Revival of a dead person” would imply the person returning to this earthly life once again. That is to say, it would be a return to the natural process of people being born, growing up, aging, dying, and decaying. Rather, resurrection is the birth of eternal life. It is, so to say, a totally new work of creation by God. The resurrection of Christ is the core of the Christian faith, and so if you happen to confuse the sense of the word, it would not be surprising if you found it ridiculous and unbelievable.

The word “resurrection” originally arose from the Jewish faith. In the Judaism that existed in the era of Jesus, it was generally believed that at the end of the world God would renew the heavens and the earth, and that the believers who had been waiting in the land of the dead, would be resurrected to participate in the life of God. The disciples of Jesus acquired an understanding of his resurrection on the basis of this Jewish faith.

In other words, the disciples had experienced a revelation of God that would radically transform their lives. In the light of that revelation, they believed that the events of the last days as taught by Judaism, had already occurred. These last day events were foreseen in Jesus, and they understood Jesus as being the ‘first fruit’. This is the original meaning of the words “resurrection of Jesus.”

Hence, the resurrection of Jesus is first of all an event wherein God has shown us what he really is. That is to say, he has revealed to us the fact that he is the creator of heaven and earth, he restores a wounded world and fulfils the work of creation, and as though creating from nothing, he is a person who is able to elevate corruptible life into eternal life that does not deteriorate. He never abandons those who trust in him, he is a being whose fidelity transcends life and death, and he is a person who determines the ultimate significance of life and the ultimate essence of history.

And secondly, the resurrection of Jesus is an event that ensures our hope. It assures us of the fact that those who are united to Jesus will continue to be united to him in their resurrection, and that they will be able to participate in his eternal life at the time of the completion of the kingdom of God. It is this faith that serves as the basis of Christian hope.

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