Does the risen Jesus have blood?

This is the somewhat arcane question which has been raised on the b-trans e-mail list, and is also related to my post on Hebrews 2:14 at Better Bibles Blog and to Lingamish’s response to that post.

The discussion started when I objected to a proposed rendering “mortal humanity” in Hebrews 2:14, to replace or refer back to the literal “flesh and blood”. My issue was that “flesh and blood” refers to humanity in general, not just to mortal humanity but also to the resurrection bodies which Jesus has and which we will have. But I was surprised that my suggestion proved so controversial. Here I hope to show that Jesus’ resurrection body has blood, and that this is important for our salvation.

Now I know that some people have the idea that the resurrection body, whether of Jesus or of ourselves in the future, is some kind of immaterial or ghostly body. They like to claim that Jesus’ resurrection body could walk through walls, as supposedly stated in John 20:19,26 – although the much easier explanation here is that the locked doors opened in front of Jesus by God’s power (compare Acts 5:19, 12:10, 16:26) and he walked in in the normal way. But the gospel writers are careful to show that Jesus’ body was of the normal material kind: it had flesh and bones, and visible wounds, and could eat and breathe (Luke 24:38-43, John 20:20,22). It was not just an apparition, but a real physical body.

Against this seems to stand 1 Corinthians 15:50, where “flesh and blood” apparently refers only to our current mortal human bodies, not to our future imperishable ones. But according to this chapter, especially verses 53-54, the resurrection body is not lacking something which mortal bodies have, but rather something is added to the perishable bodies to make them imperishable. Bodies of flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God unless they are clothed with that added immortality.

Elaine on the b-trans list suggested that Jesus’ resurrection body contains flesh and bones as Luke says, but not blood. There is no clear proof text for the risen Jesus still having blood, although verses like 1 Corinthians 11:27 and Hebrews 10:19 make little sense if the blood of Jesus is something which now no longer exists. But the overall biblical picture seems to be of a normal human body with an added something.

Part of the issue here is in fact the symbolic meaning of blood. There is a long-standing controversy over whether the blood of Jesus refers primarily to his life or to his death. Certainly in Jewish thought blood was a symbol of life rather than death, for “the life of every creature is its blood” (Leviticus 17:14 TNIV); nevertheless, in some places in the New Testament “blood” seems to be used as a shorthand for “the shedding of blood”, i.e. death. It is dangerous, I would think, to insist on one meaning to the exclusion of the other.

So, when for example we read that “the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7 TNIV), we should understand this as referring both to Jesus’ sacrificial death and to his continuing resurrection life, both of which are needed for our justification and sanctification. His flesh is real food and his blood is real drink (John 6:55) not because they have been taken away from him, but because they make up his resurrection body which is filled with life. Eternal life is granted to all who share in this flesh and blood (6:54), who are “washed in the blood” of the Lamb who was slain but yet lives (Revelation 5:6, 7:14). Because he has been raised in a body of imperishable flesh and blood, we too who share this flesh and blood will receive immortal bodies when death is swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:53-54).

27 thoughts on “Does the risen Jesus have blood?

  1. Just a few quick comments, as I see it:

    Jesus death needed to be by the shedding of His blood to be able to remit sin, the blood of bulls and goats could only temporarily cover. God required a body. Why? To walk as the second Adam, but without sin; then to shed that innocent blood for the remission of our sin. It is the fact of that once for all sacrifice that the Father retains and which can reconcile us to Him.

    If (life in) the blood of Abel could cry out from the ground, could not Christ’s shed blood speak for us to God? without having to be returned to a body?

    Jesus is Life. Being in Christ is life for us; not being in the blood, but washed by it. The shed blood of Jesus is for cleansing from sin – so that we can be in Him. We are washed by the blood in a spiritual sense, no need of physical blood being applied to our bodies. The spiritual sense of these things being as real – if not more real – than physicality as we know it.

  2. I’ve got a post coming out showing that Jeus is now more “ghostly” than “flesh and blood” but for now thanks for making me think about this intriguing topic.

  3. A good post, but I don’t understand why you should limit the risen Lord in His power when it comes to walking through locked doors.
    I would have thought that to God in His omnipotence it would be easy.

  4. Glenn, of course God could arrange for Jesus, or for you, to walk through a door, rather than having it open in front of you. Nothing is impossible for God. But sometimes we have to ask ourselves which of two possibilities is more likely given what we know of how God works in the world. We know that God opens locked doors. We don’t have any clear record of any body walking through locked doors. So, although we cannot be sure, the more likely thing is that God opened the doors.

  5. Personally, I’ve found it a bit of a stretch to argue that Jesus’ resurrection body lacked blood – it also denigrates the bodily resurrection by making him into a pseudo-phantasm – what does he have instead of blood? Empty veins? It’s not a explicit statement in scripture, and I’m surprised that the case needs to be proven otherwise.

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  7. Dear Peter,

    Jesus didn’t have to ‘walk’ through anything and the Scriptures do not say this. It states: ‘Jesus came [or appeared] and stood in their midst’ (John 20:19, NKJ). Prior to this it is stated that the doors were shut. You imagine that He came by walking through a door. So how did He come before He walked through the door? He must have appeared and become visible outside the door. Why outside? What would be the point? No. Jesus materialised within the room and took them by surprise. This is why the disciples were so afraid. It happened a second time when Thomas was present (v26). I don’t see the point in arguing that He walked through a doorway.

    Jesus can appear and disappear at will – as we know from these examples and the breaking of bread at Emmaus (Luke 24:31). He has a glorified body – and so shall we. Jesus being God can be as He pleases. He can have a body of flesh and blood, or not.

    The image of Jesus in Revelation 1:12-17 echos the glory of God in bodily form when the Lord appeared to Moses (Ex.33:22-23).

    As it is stated in 1 Cor.15:44, in the resurrection we shall have a spititual body of glory and power (v43). As you have said, those raised in Christ will never die (v53). We shall be as the angels of heaven.

    Jesus appeared with flesh and blood to the disciples, but this doesn’t mean that this is how He exists in heaven. He can. of course – but I believe He exists in a form that is usually invisible to the human eye. For Jesus to appear to man, He must make Himself visible -as iwe have read in the Gospels.

    Blessings!

    Norman McIlwain

  8. Norman, thank you. But this is not my concept of resurrection bodies, that they can beam themselves around Star Trek fashion to rematerialise wherever they want to. When Jesus ascended to heaven his body changed into some different kind of mode including some kind of omnipresence, but up to that time there is no reason to think that it was ever immaterial. But I admit I cannot prove this.

  9. Peter, the way I have thought about this is to picture heaven as some sort of extra-dimensional space, above our three dimenions of space and our one dimension of time. Any body which occupies four dimensions of space is able to appear and re-appear in our three dimensional world simply by moving in that dimension. Hence heaven surrounds and permeates our world, but it is separated by a thin veil.

    If you’ve ever read or heard of Flatland, its a great illustration of this point. This makes more sense to me than to attribute some special wall-walking power to Jesus and/or the resurrection bodies.

  10. Thanks, Alastair. I understand what you are saying, or I think I do. Just as Flatland walls are no barrier to a three dimensional being, walls in our world are no barrier to a higher dimensional being. And I would accept this as a possibly good model for the ascended Jesus. But I am not sure that we need to think this of the resurrected Jesus before his ascension. We have no reason not to see his body at this time as having normal physical properties, combined with a not necessarily supernatural ability to disguise itself and the authority to command God’s power for example to open doors.

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  15. Dear Peter Kirk,
    I’ve been a believer for 19 years now and have come to the same conclusion(s) you have regarding our risen Lord. There is no other option than to conclude that Jesus’ BLOOD is still in His body!!! He did NOT bleed to death and, yes, Leviticus 17:11″The LIFE of the flesh IS IN THE BLOOD!!!” What we would end up with IS a PHANTOM if YESHUA arose from the dead without ANY Blood in His veins!!! “and to the BLOOD of sprinkling which speaks BETTER things than that of Abel” Hebrews 12 says(NKJV). Even Jesus’ BLOOD is Better than our Common human blood. See Acts 17:26 and Hebrews 10:26-31. There is one blood that is common to Mankind. And it is sinful blood. There is another BLOOD that is only Holy, Righteous, NOT sinful(sinless) and ETERNAL. IT IS THE BLOOD OF JESUS!!!See Luke 1:35!!! Why did the Holy Spirit need to OVERSHADOW Mary? “That HOLY ONE who is to be born shall be called the Son of God”. His Blood is HOLY,HOLY,HOLY. And He did not die Spiritually, as John F. MacArthur concludes. That’s BLASPHEMY of the Highest order. See 1 Peter 3:18-20!!!
    I used to attend John MacArthur’s church Grace Community Church of San Fernando Valley north of L.A. from 1990-1996. I was brutalized physically and spiritually(spiritual abuse) when I made the attempt to convince “Mac” amd the rest of the “MacArthurites” of the Truth regarding Jesus’ BLOOD.

    IT IS NO small WONDER Satan HATES the BLOOD OF THE SAVIOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    “Mac” is not the only “one” who denies the deity of Jesus and/by denying His BLOOD. The follwing are ministers and writers and even radio hosts who also DENY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST… Hank Hanagraaf(of KKLA 99.5 FM”Bible Answer Man” fame), Chuck Swindoll, author and “apologist” Dave Hunt …. to name a few!!!

    God Bless you Peter,
    and Keep up the Lord’s work until He returns (which should be real soon) Love,
    Brother Lee August 7th
    Pray for the Fig Tree!!!”Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem”

  16. I am surprised that no-one has talked about the Eucharist in this. Jesus states that the bread is His Body and the wine His blood, at the Last Supper. Now, supposing Jesus to have had no intimation of His Resurrection Body prior to His death, this would simply make the Eucharist a memorial, and, more than that, a displacement activity for a Body and Blood which is NO LONGER TO BE THERE.

    BUT, this is NOT WHAT WE GET!…

  17. Ooops! Hit too soon!

    …as we read the story of the two folk chatting on the road to Emmaus, we learn that they DO NOT RECOGNISE JESUS until He opens to them the Scriptures concerning Himself and, CRUCIALLY, when He BREAKS BREAD WITH THEM…

    Discussions of a biological conjecture about blodd-in-veins aside, is it not significant that the recognition of Jesus’ Body and Blood after the Resurrection is of it being BOTH in His physical body AND in the Sacrament?

    And, following the Ascension, is not the REAL PRESENCE with the Body and Blood in the Bread and Wine?

    Comments welcomed to clarify my thoughts about this one!…

  18. Thank you, Paul. I was in fact thinking about links to the Eucharist when I mentioned John 6:54. But I didn’t go into this in detail because it didn’t seem to me the most important aspect here. Perhaps this is partly because as an evangelical I have tended to steer carefully away from Real Presence ideas as smacking of transubstantiation. But perhaps I have gone too far in this.

    To me, the living body, with its blood, of the risen Christ is omnipresent, but all the more specifically present among believers (Matthew 18:20) and even more so in the Eucharist. But of course the blood can only be in the eucharistic cup if it is in the resurrected body.

    But I see a problem here. The first Eucharist, and for that matter Matthew 18:20, were before the Resurrection, and the supper at Emmaus was before the Ascension. How can Jesus have a localised body and blood and be in the eucharistic elements at the same time? I’m not sure how to answer this one.

  19. Lee, thanks for your thoughts on this. I agree with the general direction of your thinking on this. But I don’t take it as a matter of such great importance to justify your rather strong language about John MacArthur and others. Of course if your allegation “I was brutalized physically and spiritually” is true, this is very serious, but not a matter I can take up here.

  20. Dear All,

    When God breathed unto the nostrils of man it created blood in his body, I supposed.

    Therefore, whether we agree or disagree, God’s breath is life and life is in the blood… God has Blood.

  21. Roberto, thanks for the comment, but this seems a strange position. I don’t know how literally you intend to take God breathing into the nostrils of man. But I have always assumed that this is analogous to how someone who is dying, e.g. from drowning, can be revived by breathing into their nostrils. Such a person still has blood, but does not have breath. I would assume that the man who was formed from the dust of the ground had blood in his veins, albeit not red aereated blood, even before God breathed into his nostrils. In other words, the blood itself was formed from the earth, not directly from God. But then to me this picture is not to be taken precisely literally.

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  23. It looks like Paul Trathen got to the subject before I did. So I’ll address something Peter raised. The problem of how Jesus’ disciples could have understood his omnipresence from the Words of Institution while He was seated with them is paralleled by the problem of their being asked to remember his death before it happened. St. Paul seems to equate “proclaiming the Lord’s death” and “remembrance” in 1 Cor. 11:24-26. So the disciples are (in a sense) being instructed to remember something that has not happened yet. I think no matter what conclusions we reach as to the Lord’s Supper, there are some elements about that first Supper that are a bit odd. I don’t think that under any interpretation you end up with the disciples fully understanding what is going on as it is happening.

    That doesn’t clear up all problems with the Real Presence at that first Supper. But it may remove the obstacle created by an insistence that the disciples would have had to be spoken to in such a way that they understood what they were doing the first time. They surely didn’t, even if Zwingli was right.

  24. Rick, I don’t see an inherent contradiction in the disciples being asked to repeat this in remembrance of him. I can quite imagine for example a dying old man taking his children to his favourite place and asking them to gather there regularly to remember him after he has gone. Similarly with Jesus’ Last Supper, on the understanding that he knew he was about to die. The oddity here is that it does not take account of the resurrection. Would Jesus have said this if he had been sure at the time that he would rise again? An interesting question to speculate on.

    There is of course more of a problem in the idea of the Real Presence in the bread and wine at the Last Supper. This is one reason why I don’t fully accept that teaching, although on its own it is not conclusive evidence.

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