I have been sick for the last week. I have an autoimmune disease so I am susceptible to picking up every bug and illness going around. In fact I am always sick with something. This time it was a stomach virus and it had me nailed. In between non-stop bouts of vomiting and diarrhea my husband managed to get me to the hospital and have me treated. Normally stomach bugs go away in a couple of days, but mine hang around for weeks at a time totally crushing me. This one has been good in comparison to most I get, even though the vomiting was violent and just wouldn’t stop. What was different is the duration; it really only lasted for 24 hours and then I could start recovering. Admittedly, the doctor at the hospital was smart enough to treat my autoimmune disease as well as the stomach bug so recovery was much quicker. Normally it takes me a few months to really get back to full health (which is pretty tragic at the best of times).
Throughout my illness I found myself crying out to God for two things in particular—healing or death. I swung between both. I did however acknowledge that this virus would only last as long as the Lord allowed and of course that brought comfort. At times like this, I can’t help but dwell upon heaven and full and total healing for our bodies. As one who suffers pain and illness on a daily basis, I cling to this truth. I just cannot wait to cast off this shell and be clothed in my heavenly body for eternity.
I was recently listening to a Justin Peters talk at Strange Fire and he said something really interesting— he said that he thinks that when we actually get to heaven and have been fully and totally healed, we won’t even notice. We will be so in awe of the presence of the Lord that everything else will fade into insignificance, and I tend to agree. While I like to imagine myself in my new heavenly body, just feeling awesome, and marveling over it, I don’t think that that will be the case at all. I will be in the presence of the Almighty God, and nothing else will matter. That is a wonderful truth. However, we have been promised heavenly bodies and we will definitely receive them. The Bible doesn’t tell us a great deal about our heavenly bodies, but we know that they are bodies, and not just a spirit. I was reading recently that our earthly bodies are suitable only for this earth, and are unable to live anywhere else in their natural condition. So in order to live in heaven with the Lord, we will receive new bodies; bodies that are perfect, cannot get sick, will not age, and will not die. These will be our eternal state.
We have an understanding of how our new bodies will look when we look at the example of Jesus after He was resurrected. Jesus was still recognizable, but different. The gospels give us quite a few examples:
So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread. Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. Luke 24:33–37
In this Scripture they were able to recognise Jesus, yet assumed He was a spirit.
John 20 gives us quite an extensive account:
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
Jesus Appears to the Disciples</On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again,“Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
Jesus and Thomas
Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
In this passage of Scripture, Mary mistakes Jesus to be the gardener and it is only when He reveals Himself to her that she can see it is him. She is not yet able to touch Him. Further into the passage, Jesus is recognizable in human form, is able to pass through matter and time, yet He can still be touched and felt. So what is clear by these passages is that Jesus’ resurrection body, and like our resurrection bodies will be, are the same as our earthly body, only glorified. John MacArthur explains it beautifully, “Christ’s resurrection body was the same body as before, not a whole new one. After He arose, the tomb was empty. The body itself was resurrected—the very same body, but in a glorified state. The wounds from His crucifixion were still visible (John 20:27). He could be touched and handled—He was not merely an apparition or a phantom (Luke 24:39). He looked human in every regard. He conversed a long time with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, and they never once questioned His humanity (Luke 24:13–18). He ate real, earthly food with His friends on another occasion (Luke 24:42–43).
Yet His body also had otherworldly properties. He could pass through solid walls (John 20:19). He could appear in different forms so His identity was not immediately obvious (Mark 16:12). He could suddenly appear out of nowhere (Luke 24:36). And He could ascend directly into heaven in bodily form, with no adverse effect as He went through the atmosphere (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9. Our bodies will be exactly like that. They will be real, physical, genuinely human bodies—the very same bodies we have while on this earth—yet wholly perfected and glorified.”
I am so excited about heaven, and so excited about having a glorified body. No longer will I have to live with pain, sickness and suffering. I will live in the presence of the Lord forever, in a body that will never decay, and never die. Trying to imagine that is simply too much for my finite brain. So instead, I will live expectantly and keep my head turned towards Jesus as I suffer daily in this earthly tent.