Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

Christ is Risen, Truly He is Risen!

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Christ is Risen, Truly He is Risen!

As we celebrate the Glorious Feast of the Resurrection, let us rejoice in the glorious immortality of man brought about by the first born of the dead--our beloved Risen Lord. While it is important to commemorate our Lord Jesus Christ's suffering on earth it is equally as important to profess our belief in the glorious resurrection of our Lord, His blessed soul was raised from the dead. Many of the early church fathers describe our Lord Jesus as "the first fruits from the dead".

We can surmise four characteristics of the Lord Jesus Christ's glorious resurrected body, 1) He was raised in flesh that was impassable, 2) Our Lord's risen body was glorious, radiant and pure, 3) His Holy body was swift to appear and disappear at His will, and 4) His resurrected body of flesh was also spiritual in nature.

The Lord Jesus Christ's resurrected body was in the flesh. His flesh following death did not see vile corruption, although it bore the grandeur of His pre-death crucifixion wounds. Most Biblical scholars agree, His flesh did not return our Lord to the imperfections of agonizing pain, infected wounds, or diseases from the rust of nails penetrating His bones, muscle or deep tissue.

"Jesus is still sitting there at the right hand of the Father—man yet God. He is the last Adam; yet He is also the original Word. He is flesh and blood, yet His body is purer than ours" (Tertullian c.210).

The resurrected risen body of our Lord Jesus Christ in His flesh was impassable to witness by all those He appeared to. His Holy risen body was no longer subject to fear of persecution, pain, and suffering. Our Lord Jesus Christ's body was neither cold nor hot. There was no further water and blood pouring forth from His side. His wounds were not dressed in healing ointments and bandages. Our Lord did not display signs of illness. If this was not so, the Holy Gospel writers more than likely would have acknowledged such important details.

The glorified risen, clothed body of our Lord Jesus Christ was brightly illuminated and shining. Just as the Glorious Transfiguration, our Lord's face shone like the sun. He was splendorous in His divine nature.

"And He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as light" (Matthew 17:2).

The Transfiguration foreshadowed the future glory of our Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah; glorious from having risen from the dead and returned to the Kingdom of our Father in Heaven.

Our Lord Himself said...

"Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" (Matthew 13:43).

Perhaps brightness is THE greatest in our Lord as St. Paul explains to the Corinthian church....that all splendors are not of the same degree. It is differentiated among each person.

"There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead..." (I Corinthians 15:40-42).

The Lord Jesus Christ's raised body was agile and mind clouding. The nature of the resurrected body was so different in sense of consciousness that the disciples did not immediately recognize Him, although He was in the flesh. The Lord Jesus Christ purposefully prevents Cleopas and St. Luke, while on the road to Emmaus, from recognizing Him, perhaps as a way to expose their wavering faith.

"So it was while they were conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him" (Luke 24:15-16).

Though the doors were shut, He suddenly appeared in their midst. And when our Lord Jesus appeared to the ten disciples, they did not know Him without a display of proof in which He shows them His wounds.

"...when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, 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" (John 20:19-20).

While of flesh His risen body is also spiritual in nature. The human soul is paramount in the risen body.

"...The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in corruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and a spiritual body" (I Corinthians 15:42-44).

The Glorious Resurrection was spoken about, written about, and aspired to in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, including Job the Prophet to the writer of First and Second Maccabees. The Glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and the glorious resurrection of the dead, in general, seemed to have occupied the minds of all whom could but have faith in it.

In Second Maccabees, two letters from Jerusalem are sent to the Jews in Alexandria, Egypt urging them to resist the pagan influence and the wicked high priests. The King of God is the Son of the glorious resurrection.

Second Maccabees 7:9 states:

"So when he was at his last breath, he said ‘You accursed wretch! You set us free from this present life, but the King of the world will raise us to an everlasting renewal of life, because we die for His laws.'"(II Maccabees 7:9, OSB).

Second Maccabees 7:14 confirms this by further stating:

"...'One may be chosen to die at the hands of men and to look for the hope that God gives of being raised again by Him.'" (II Maccabees 7:14, OSB).

Our Lord Jesus Christ said,

"...'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.'"(John 11:25).

The Jews did not just reject our Lord Jesus Christ at the end of His Holy life but also from the time of His Holy birth. Since birth, our Lord Jesus Christ suffered prejudice and persecution. It was relentless and unjustified. Perhaps this added to the brightness of His Glory. As the brightest of the bright, most glorious of all that are glorious, we can surely comprehend why.

In the wake of our dearly departed Father, the late His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, we can only imagine the brightness of His Holiness' sun and the brilliance of His Holiness' stars. All his trials and tribulations here upon this earth were encountered with calmness and patient endurance. In addition to His Holiness' departure to His Eternity, we must also honor those Coptic citizens of Egypt who chose to stay and burn bright as the candles that flicker in our churches. They choose to stay and continue the Coptic faith in the homeland without despair, without being disheartened, and remain in peace in the hope of the Eternal resurrection where they will no longer suffer persecution but will be shining brightly because they suffered more, tolerated more, and still found joy while here on earth.

For now and forever more, this is a season to rejoice in the affirmation of the Lord Jesus Christ's Divinity and let us all say as did St. Thomas, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).

Christ is Risen, Truly He is Risen!

Bishop Youssef
Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

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