I once heard an explanation that’s stuck with me. We were studying the passage where Jesus, in His glorified body after His resurrection, passes through the walls into the room where the disciples are hiding. Do you remember it?
“That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!” (John 20:19-20)
Did you notice the phrase “behind locked doors”? The disciples are hiding away in fear, and God records for us that they’d locked the doors. Then Jesus is suddenly among them. How’d he do that? Bodies don’t pass through walls. Not here on earth, anyway.
That’s where the explanation that’s stuck with me comes in: Think back to high school science class and a lesson on density. A physics teacher would have explained that an object that’s more dense than another object will always pass through the less dense object. Every single time. Our teacher would tell us to picture a rock, or an orange. Both rocks and oranges are denser than, say, water.
Rock or orange = more dense than water.
In defining density, our teacher might have used words like firm, solid, weighty. Density means how much stuff there is packed into the object. And because the laws of physics say that the more dense object always passes through the less dense object, the rock or the orange will always pass through water. You can picture that: Drop an orange into a deep bucket of water, and the orange will sink, or pass through the water, on the way to the bottom. The water doesn’t have the ability to “stop” the rock.
So here’s the so what. With Jesus, the opposite occurred. John records that Jesus, only hours after his resurrection, passed through walls into rooms with dead-bolted doors. He defied density laws.
Something new was afoot. Something opposite. Something other. Jesus’ glorified body, on that Sunday night after His resurrection, was now more dense, more weighty, than what we’d consider the densest of earth’s dense — a wall. He passed straight through into the room where the disciples huddled. The more dense passed through the less dense. The wall didn’t have the ability to “stop” Jesus.
It’s not that He’s now vaporous and passed through. It’s that He’s weightier. Denser. More solid. Our physics laws don’t apply. Jesus is Other.
I bow. I’m stupefied.
And I have a few last questions.
With density laws still in mind, when I remember Jesus walking on the water toward the disciples (in Matthew 14), and compare what happened on the sea that night with what later happened in the room after His resurrection:
- Why did Jesus in His resurrected body (which must have now been denser, and not only metaphorically) pass through the room’s walls (which should have been denser) but
- not pass through the water (less dense) when He walked on the waves toward the disciples in His earthly body (which should have then been denser)? Why didn’t the laws of physics apply either time?
On the waves, Jesus should have been more dense and sunk into the less dense water. After His resurrection, He should have been less dense than the walls and not been able to pass through. The two times seem to be almost opposites, and yet the laws of physics didn’t apply to Him either time.
I cannot wait to ask about that in heaven.
Today, though, as I try to grasp it all, I’m left feeling small and un-smart compared to God. And that’s a really, really good thing. My inability to comprehend Jesus’ opposite-physics puts me in my proper place. I close the book, acutely aware of His Great Otherness.
I’m humbled. I love Him even more. And I worship:
When I cannot understand anything in the Bible, it seems to me as though God had set a chair there for me, at which to kneel and worship; and that the mysteries are intended to be an altar of devotion. (C.H. Spurgeon)