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Some Christians believe that the Resurrection and Ascent of Jesus are simply different aspects of the same truth; Jesus was resurrected from physical death and ascended to His Father at the time of His crucifixion. The appearances Jesus made to His disciples, including His ascent, were as described in Harper's Bible Dictionary: "From 1 Cor. 15:3-8 we learn that faith in the resurrection was based not on the empty tomb, which Paul does not mention, but on the appearances of the Lord. The word used for 'appeared' is the same Greek word used elsewhere for visionary experiences. We may today characterize these experiences as revelatory disclosures from the transcendent realm. No distinction was drawn between the resurrection and ascension. The appearances are manifestations of the resurrected and already ascended Christ from heaven." [-ed]
Paul had said: "All flesh is not the same.. There are celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial.. So (it is with) the resurrection of the dead.. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body" (1co 15:39-44).."flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (1co 15:50).
So how do we reconcile what Paul said with the generally accepted Christian view of the resurrection of Jesus' physical body? After all, Jesus had said unto them, "The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again.." (mat 17:22-23) - (for a list of resurrection events read note 'Re'). Still, the Bible is very emphatic about physical bodies not going to heaven!! [-ed]
Some might say that conditions would be unique for Jesus, the Son of God - who at this very moment sits at God's right hand (eph 1:20). But if this were the case, why would Jesus have the only physical body in heaven? According to Paul there are no other physical bodies there (1co 15:50), and God is a Spirit (joh 4:24). [-ed]
Other Views: For a scholarly view, click Audio (Joel Smith 47 min)
Often the disciples failed to immediately recognize Jesus' body when He appeared (joh 20:15-17), and other persons present at the event did not always see Him, as in the appearance to Paul (act 9:3-7). This seems extraordinary, as does His body suddenly appearing and disappearing. One popular view is that the appearances were Heavenly Visions of His celestial body, similar to Heavenly Visions related elsewhere in the Bible. [-ed]
Other Heavenly Visions:
Moses and Elias appeared with Jesus during His transfiguration on Mt. Tabor and Peter asked Jesus if they should build a shelter for them to stay in (mat 17:4). Then going down the mountain later, Jesus said that it was a Vision: "Tell the vision to no man" (mat 17:9).
Bahá'í Quote: "This occurrence was perceived by the disciples with their inner eye.. and was a spiritual discovery of theirs.." (sab 162:3) [-ed]
Also, when Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus, Paul later said to King Agrippa that it was a "heavenly vision": "I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision" (act 26:13-19)
In the Bible, Heavenly Visions are demonstrated to be completely indistinguishable from physical reality. Observers would naturally have considered them to be physical, especially if they saw bodies interacting with physical objects (eating physical food, etc.). [-ed]#76
Even today, most literally-minded Christians believe that the appearances of Christ were of His physical body - but others are beginning to support the concept of Heavenly Visions - as described in Harper's Bible Dictionary (click 'see').[-ed]
It is also becoming increasingly well known that the findings and theories of Modern Christian Bible Scholars often differ markedly from what is taught in Churches. Many of these scholars have concluded that the Biblical accounts of resurrection were simply fashioned to demonstrate spiritual truths and/or to fulfill Old Testament promises - but many others are becoming ever-more closely aligned with Bahá'í understandings (see Notes 'Sp' for an example). [-ed]#Sp
From the Bahá'í perspective: "The resurrections of the Divine Manifestations are not of the body. All Their states, Their conditions, Their acts, the things They have established, Their teachings, Their expressions, Their parables and Their instructions have a spiritual and divine signification, and have no connection with material things.." (saq 103:2), as the Bible likewise confirms: "we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught us by the Spirit.." (1co 2:13-14 niv). But regardless of the perspective, all seem to agree that when Christ left this earthly existence, He went to sit at the right hand of God in His Spiritual Realm. [-ed]
Bahá'í vs Islam vs Christian
Some Christians might object to Bahá'í beliefs about the resurrection since Bahá'ís also accept the Qur'an as the word of God, and the Qur'an appears to say that the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (the central episode in Christianity to most Christians) did not happen as depicted in the Bible. In the Qur'an it states: ".. they [the Jews] said (in boast), 'We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of God';- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them.. for of a surety they killed him not.. Nay, God raised him up unto Himself.." (qur 4:157-158) [-ed]
If the Bahá'ís are correct and the Qur'an is correct, what could have been the intended meaning in the Qur'an? Some Muslims believe that the Qur'an is simply referring to the Jews who believed they had 'killed' Jesus, whereas they really had not - He having instead been physically "raised" back to God. Other Muslims believe that Jesus did not really die while on the cross, and was later resuscitated - or as is most commonly believed, that another person (often assumed to have been Judas) was crucified in Jesus' place. [-ed]
Holy books rarely give us a clue as to which portions of the text have a literal, or a spiritual meaning, and even if they did, it would require spiritual discernment to correctly interpret them, as Paul said: "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned. (1co 2:13-14, see also mat 13:13-15)". Although the outward meanings of scripture are sufficient to help guide the people to 'find' a new Revelation from God, proper understanding of the inner, hidden meanings must await the coming of the next Manifestation. Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh each enlightened the believers of previous dispensations as to the hidden meanings contained within their (previous) text. The purpose of these hidden meanings being to test the spiritual perception of the seeker and to identify the true seeker from the malevolent (please read Notes '17' & '59'). [-ed]
Baha'i Quote: The resurrection of the Manifestations of God is not of the body. All that pertains to Them- all Their states and conditions, all that They do, found, teach, interpret, illustrate, and instruct- is of a mystical and spiritual character and does not belong to the realm of materiality.
Such is the case of Christ's coming from heaven. It has been explicitly stated in numerous passages of the Gospel that the Son of man came down from heaven, or is in heaven, or will go up to heaven. Thus in John 6:38 it is said: "For I came down from heaven", and in John 6:42 it is recorded: "And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?", and in John 3:13 it is stated: "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven."
Consider how it is said that the Son of man is in heaven, even though at that time Christ was dwelling upon the earth. Consider likewise that it explicitly says that Christ came from heaven, although He came from the womb of Mary and His body was born of her. It is therefore clear that the assertion that the Son of man came down from heaven has a mystical rather than a literal meaning, and is a spiritual rather than a material event..(saq2 23:2-4)
Sadly, most interpretations have been made by viewing subjects as "literally true", from a "physical" perspective - the results therefore becoming purely physical in nature. As regards the resurrection of Jesus, the belief was that "Heaven" (or the Next World) was a physical place, and this required the "appearances" of Jesus after the resurrection to be of His physical body. [-ed]
Rarely were interpretations made when the Next World was regarded as a place for spirits. Viewed from such a "literally true", but "spiritual" perspective, the meaning of the resurrection can be seen exactly as reported in the Qur'an: "they killed him not -- not His true Self, the Word of God (joh 1:1) -- but so it was made to appear to them (since His physical body was killed)" (please read note 42). [-ed]
If the intent of the Qur'an statement was to clear-up the physical misconceptions made by both Christians and Muslims, however, it essentially fell on (spiritually) deaf ears, since like the Christians, Muslims persist in seeing the resurrection in strictly physical terms - most Muslims denying the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus altogether (see en. wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Islamic view of Jesus' death). [-ed]
When viewed Spiritually, however, the Muslim and Christian texts can be seen in complete harmony. Both Muslim and Christian texts (as well as Bahá'í) make it clear that the reality of Christ (the true essence, the 'Word' for all eternity) was not killed and state plainly that God raised Jesus up. There was no separation between the crucifixion and the resurrection - His Spirit went immediately to God at the time of His body's death (see Note '11') (the Qur'an does not address the Biblical accounts of post-crucifixion appearances). [-ed]#11
Bahá'í Insight into Christ's Resurrection & Ascension:
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