This is the first series in a brand new category of posts on Reclaimer! The Sci-Fi and Scripture series will explore the connections between sci-fi/fantasy elements and Biblical stories and concepts. This first series will look at the various possible occurrences of zombies in the Bible. This post will look exclusively at Jesus, his death, and his post-death time on earth.
In the previous post we saw how Jesus’ death was so monumental that it caused the dead to literally walk the earth. His sacrifice blurred the line between life and death, and we’ll see this again in another example:
The Soldiers at Jesus’ Tomb
After Jesus was placed in his tomb, his followers went to visit him, only to find an unexpected scene. When Jesus’ followers showed up, Matthew 28 says that an angel had rolled the stone away from in front of the tomb. Jesus’ tomb had been guarded to ensure no one stole his body to claim that he had risen. The guards who witnessed this were said to have “trembled and became like dead men” at the sight of the angel who was only there to tell them about Jesus. As we’ve seen previously, when heavenly forces get involved, crazy things happen.
So what exactly does it meant that they became “like dead men.” This could be an interesting way of saying they died, or it could simply mean that they fainted from fright. But the scripture doesn’t say either of those things. It seems that what happened to them caused them to still live, but appear dead. Almost as if they convulsed violently and suddenly became catatonic. One might even say they became zombified by what they saw. But this was just a precursor to some of the crazy things that Jesus did during his post-death time
Night of the Conquered Death
Coming back from death is no small feat, but previous stories in this series have clearly shown how it occurred. God was ultimately the one providing the power over death, but the examples we’ve looked at so far involved a third party that God worked through to bring about a miracle. Not so with Jesus. Jesus rose from death only through God’s power. Since Jesus is God, he basically raised himself. It’s one thing to bring someone else back from death, but it’s something else entirely to be dead and bring yourself back. This powerfully illustrates that Jesus’ death and return from death means that he has conquered death for all of us. 1 Corinthians says, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” When Peter is preaching about Jesus’ death in Acts 2, he says that Jesus was so powerful that death could not hold him.
What seems to have happened is that Jesus resurrected himself, unwrapped himself from his dressings, folded them neatly, and then…..just left? The above passage at Jesus’ tomb shows that the angels removed the stone and that Jesus wasn’t in there. Since they witnessed the stone being removed for the first time, his body could not have previously been stolen, so how did he get out? Well as it turns out, Jesus came back with a new, glorified body. A body with superpowers.
If you look again at the above 1 Corinthians passage, it has a key phrase important to understanding Jesus in the time between his death and ascension- “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written…” Jesus’ body after his resurrection was in what has been called a “glorified state” since it has put on immortality. This means that his body was different from before, and much better. He picked up some new skills which we will now take a look at.
Teleportation/walking through walls: This explains that “exiting the tomb without moving the stone” problem mentioned above. But that’s just one example. Luke 24:36-37 describes how Jesus’ followers were all hanging out and talking about what had happened when suddenly…Jesus! He just suddenly appears and starts talking with them. Of course they’re freaked out because they kinda just got punked by Jesus, who they thought was both dead and somewhere else. Perhaps he sneaked in the back door and they hadn’t noticed him yet, you say? Well if we look at the same story in John, it specifically says that they had locked the doors when suddenly Jesus was there. Clearly, Jesus is the original Nightcrawler.
I'd like to think Jesus was less blue and creepy.
Hiding in plain sight: After news of Jesus’ missing body began to spread, Jesus confirmed this by appearing to various people, although not at first. There are at least two instances in scripture (Luke 24:13-35 and John 20:14-15) where Jesus openly converses with people who knew him without them even being able to recognize him. He was able to look them straight in the face and somehow prevent them from seeing who he was. Jesus could have easily joined the Assassin ranks with the likes of Ezio Auditore…
One of these things is not like the other...
…except he wouldn’t need to fool with that tedious wall climbing and roof-hopping because of another ability…
Flight: When Jesus chose to leave this earth, he did it in the coolest way possible, he just flew up and away. You can call it levitation, telekinesis, or just straight up flight, but either way it’s a pretty cool ability that most of us have fantasized about at some point. Again, this was done by God’s hand, but Jesus must have had the power to determine when and how to do it. Luke 24:50-53 describes it as him being carried up into heaven. Even more curious is Acts 1:9 which says that he was lifted up and then a cloud took him away. I’m sure that seeing Jesus go up in a cloud was awesome, but with the cloud involved, I just can’t help but picture this guy:
I'm quite certain that Jesus did NOT throw spiked shells at his followers on the way up.
Jesus, the Good Zombie
What does all of this Jesus talk have to do with zombies? Well, the whole zombie phenomena says something quite telling about our cultural view of death. When we tell a fictional story about what might happen to us after our death, our view is that we become a mindless, decaying monster intent only on eating brains. Zombies reflect our deepest fears related to the unknown time after death. Jesus’ conquering of death and display of his physical state on earth shows that there is something good that can come after we die. Jesus shows us that through him, death can be the beginning of an existence much greater than what we settle for now. In that sense, Jesus and ourselves will be more like the Type H zombie in that our forms will be changed after the process of death.
So while our culture continues to fixate on the zombie hordes and the various means of killing them, God’s truth continues to speak to us about an alternative after death that promises redemption, renewal, and a new body.