Why didn't Jesus' flesh keep him out of Heaven?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture 

Question: Was Jesus really a flesh and blood guy when he came to earth? I heard that he was a spirit or an angel or something. If he had actual flesh, then how did he go to heaven? Isn't heaven only for souls and not for flesh?

Answer: Thank you for such an interesting question! Be assured that Jesus Christ did indeed take on actual flesh at his birth. He was not an angel, nor was he merely a physical-looking spirit. He was one of us, lacking nothing of our physicality or emotions; he only lacked the sin.

There is an idea out there that Jesus did not have a truly human form... but this is diabolical! He needed to shed actual blood to atone for our sins, he needed to endure actual wounds for our healing, and he needed a true physical body to be broken and given to us that we might have eternal life. There is no room in orthodox Christianity for a spiritualized Christ, either during his life or at his resurrection. The following are just a few verses that speak to Jesus' biological body.

“See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”” (Luke 24:39, ESV)

 “And the Word [Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, ESV)

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,”
(1 Timothy 2:5, ESV)

Now that I've affirmed that Jesus had a physical body like ours, we should discuss what our bodies will be like in heaven, because the point of your question is well taken: Heaven is indeed for souls and not for flesh as we understand flesh to be. However, the Bible is very clear that our dead bodies will someday be resurrected and changed into a form that will be appropriate for those heavenly environs and that there will be no conflicts between the flesh and the spirit on that great day. Why not? Because we will be changed.

“in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:52–53, ESV)

Although the above verse speaks of a special change that occurs at the rapture of the Church, the following verse tells of a future date when the faithful dead will be resurrected.

“The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.”
(Revelation 20:5–6, ESV)

Please note two things: First, there will be activity after death. Although we cannot say just what those bodies will be like at that time, we can see that the Bible gives us a future scene that looks like any scene from our current world. There are people passing through real-time, doing real things, and they seem to have real bodies.

Second, the bodies of the resurrected saints who had died hundreds of years ago will have had plenty of time to rot. This means that if there is any "flesh" involved in the resurrected body, it will have to be reformed by God somehow — and not just re-formed — but formed in a way that will last forever, because we cannot have bodies that will be in conflict with our future spiritual home.

In other words, flesh will not be flesh, as you understand it now, because all resurrections of the faithful involve the fundamental change of glorification. No, we do not understand what this means in physical terms, but we do know that the Bible describes all "dead" persons — whether in Hell or in Heaven — as embodied.

“... The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’”
(Luke 16:22–24, ESV)

 “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God...And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. ... He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”” (Revelation 21:2–4, ESV)

As for Jesus specifically, the following verse talks about the special nature of Jesus' resurrection — that his body would not rot, as did the bodies of others like King David.

“And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption...he says also in another psalm, “‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’ For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption.” (Acts 13:34–37, ESV)

As a final thought, the apostle Paul is very clear that there is a difference between the body that goes into the grave in the body that is raised from the dead. This should resolve your objection, because, whatever flesh it is that passes into Heaven, it is not the same stuff as the flesh we know on earth.

“So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.”
(1 Corinthians 15:42, ESV)

I pray that this short explanation has helped you.

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