There are a number of appearances by Jesus recorded after his resurrection. What do these appearances tell us about his resurrection? Are there clues as to whether his resurrection was in a physical body or a spiritual body? Let’s examine the Bible to find out.
Mt 28:8-9 – “They hurried away from the tomb . . . and ran . . . suddenly Jesus was there in their path, greeting them.” (REB). Jesus materialized a fleshly body temporarily for this sudden appearance.
Jn 20:14-17 – “She turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not recognize him.” (REB) … “Thinking he was the gardener.” (NIV). Mary Magdalene knew Jesus very well. Obviously, his materialized body looked different outwardly. Mary recognized him by his voice, and the way he spoke.
Lk 24:15-16 – “As they talked and argued, Jesus himself came up and walked with them; but something prevented them from recognizing him.” (REB) Here Jesus also appears in a physical body that is apparently even different from the one Mary saw him in.
Lk 24:30-31 – “Broke it into pieces… suddenly they saw! And they recognized him, and he vanished from their sight.” Fleshly people can’t do this. Jesus was obviously a spirit who materialized various bodies temporarily.
Lk 24:35 – “Told how he had made himself known to them in the breaking of the bread.” (REB) Notice, they did not recognized him by his physical appearance, but by his mannerisms.
Jesus obviously did not have the same fleshly body in these resurrection appearances, since he was not recognized physically. His mannerisms in the breaking of the bread in Luke 24 gave him away.
Jn 20:26 – “The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them.” (NLT) Fleshly bodies can’t go through walls and locked doors.
Jn 21:4 – “Morning came, and Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus” (REB), because Jesus looked different, with yet again a different fleshly body.
Jn 20:26 – “A week later his disciples were in the house again… Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them.” (NIV) Jesus goes through walls and doors again in this verse.
Jn 21:4 – “Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.” (NIV)
Lk 24:35 – “How they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread.” – NLT
Lk 24:36-37 – “And just as they were telling about it; Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened.” (NLT)
Lk 24:37 – “In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost” (NJB), Jesus looked so different.
Jn 20:26 – Appears suddenly in a locked room, eight days after resurrection.
Lk 24:13-16, 31 – Suddenly appears as two disciples walk to Emmaus. Later, after he is finally recognized by them, he disappears.
Lk 24:36 – Suddenly appears in Jerusalem. His sudden appearances out of nowhere give strong evidence he is a spirit.
Jn 20:19 – To his disciples behind locked doors, Jesus appears out of nowhere, which gives evidence he is a spirit.
Mt 28:9 – Appears to women running from his tomb.
Jn 21:4 – Appears on beach at Sea of Galilee.
Acts 7:55-56 – Stephen sees vision of Jesus in heaven standing at God’s right hand, in heaven, indicating Jesus is a spirit in heaven.
Rev 1:12-16 – Seen in vision to John. Jesus is obviously in heaven as a spirit.
Rev 1:17-18 – Was dead, living forever now, in heaven, since he returned there.
1 Pt 3:18 – “Was physically put to death, but he was made alive in the spirit.” (AAT) Put to death in the body, but made alive in the spirit. (NIV)
Lk 23:53 (NIV) – “Placed in a tomb . . . in which no one had yet been laid”. So there could be no mixup.
Lk 24:3 – When they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. (NIV). Why? God had consumed his “body”, asa whole burnt offering (Hebrews 10:5-10). Jesus’ physical body was now forever gone.
Jn 20:14-15 – “She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus . . . Thinking he was the gardener . . . ” (NIV) See ftn. 20:15 in CSB. Jesus had materialized in a different physical body for this appearance.
Mt 28:8-9 – “The women hurried away from the tomb . . . and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them” (NIV). Jesus appears to them out of the blue in a materialized body.
Lk 24:15-16 -“Jesus himself came up and walked along with them, but they were kept from recognizing him” (NIV), because he was in a different materialized body. Jesus looked different than he did before his execution.
Lk 24:30-31 (NIV) – “He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight”. “The two told how . . . .Jesus was recognized by them when he broke bread” (NIV). Jesus was recognized by his mannerisms, not his physical appearance.
Jn 20:19 (NIV)—“When the disciples were together, with the doors locked . . . Jesus came and stood among them”. – How could a fleshly body go through walls and doors? It can’t! Jesus was resurrected as a “spirit” (1 Peter 3;18 NASB), who could temporarily materialize fleshly bodies.
As we can see from the abundant scriptural proof available, Jesus’ appearances after his resurrection prove he was a spirit, who was able to temporarily materialize fleshly bodies.