God’s Word Is Alive
How Does Christ Return?
JESUS CHRIST needed to die in order to give his perfect human life as a ransom for us. He once explained: “The bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.” (John 6:51) Having given us his flesh, would he ever take it back again? Will Jesus return as a human?
The Bible says that Christ returns in glory with all the angels, and that he ‘sits down on his glorious throne.’ (Matthew 25:31) If Jesus were to come and sit as a man on an earthly throne, he would be lower in station than the angels. But he comes as the mightiest and most glorious of all these spirit sons of God, and he is therefore invisible, just as they are.—Philippians 2:8-11.
Yet there are many who believe that Christ took his fleshly body to heaven, and that he will return in a flesh-and-blood body. They point to the fact that more than once the resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples in a fleshly body to show them that he was alive. Once Jesus asked the apostle Thomas to put his hand into the hole in his side so that Thomas would believe that he had actually been resurrected. (John 20:24-27) Does this not show that Jesus was raised from the dead in the same body that was nailed to the stake?
No, for Jesus simply materialized or took on a fleshly body, as angels had done in the past. In order to convince Thomas as to who he was, he used a body with wound holes. He appeared fully human, able to eat and drink, just as did the angels that Abraham once entertained.—Genesis 18:8.
Though Jesus appeared to Thomas in a body similar to the one in which he was put to death, he also took on different bodies when appearing to his followers. Thus Mary Magdalene at first thought that he was a gardener. At other times Jesus’ disciples did not at first recognize him. In these instances it was not his personal appearance that served to identify him, but it was some word or action of his that they recognized.—John 20:14-16; 21:6, 7; Luke 24:30, 31.
Consider the manner in which Jesus left his apostles on his way to heaven. The Bible says: “While they were looking on, he was lifted up and a cloud caught him up from their vision.” (Acts 1:9) So when Jesus began going into the sky, a cloud hid him from the literal eyesight of his apostles. The departing Jesus, therefore, became invisible to them. They could not see him. It was in a spiritual body that he went to heaven. (1 Peter 3:18) The angels present on that occasion told the apostles: “This Jesus who was received up from you into the sky will come thus in the same manner as you have beheld him going into the sky.” (Acts 1:11) Thus Christ’s return also would be invisible, in a spiritual body.