Do people really see Jesus today?

Sightings of jesus are in the news. Evangelist Oral Roberts saw him. “I felt an overwhelming holy presence all around me,” he related. “When I opened my eyes, there he stood—some 900 feet tall, looking at me.… He stood a full 300 feet taller than the 600-foot-tall City of Faith. There 1 was face to face with Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God” (St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Feb. 19–20, 1983).

A Texas man saw Jesus in an Oklahoma motel room. “He looked like his picture,” said George Wood, “but when you’re talking to the man for three hours, you forget the details” (St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Feb. 2, 1983).

These “close encounters” with Jesus Christ raise issues about the present nature and appearance of his body, its location, and the meaning of his second coming.

Jesus is the sinless God-man (Phil. 2:5–8). A church father remarked, “He remained what he was. He became what we are.” Truly human, Jesus suffered and died in the body of his humility.

But Jesus the Son of God lives! His bodily resurrection is the sine qua non of the faith (1 Cor. 15:12–23). The resurrection body of Jesus was both different from, and similar to, the body of his humiliation. It could pass through walls, yet bore the scars of crucifixion (John 20:25–27). No scriptural evidence exists that his appearance was drastically altered, as a “900-foot-tall” apparition suggests. If Jesus veiled his glory, there is no reason to believe that an appearance of Christ today would differ from those recorded after his resurrection. If Jesus did not veil his glory, it is doubtful his body could be seen (Acts 9:7–8; 22:11).

Scripture records two apostolic encounters with Jesus after his ascension. Paul met him on the road to Damascus, heard ...

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