Our Appearance in the Resurrection
Q. Do you think we will recognise one another in the resurrection easily or will we look different?
A. I was recently in the United Kingdom and met up with an old school friend. It had been many years since we had last met and we had visibly aged. I had to pause a few seconds just to make sure it was him but his distinct features were immediately recognisable. Yet sometimes people change so much -- because of greying of hair, deep lines in the face, baldness, putting on weight, stress lines, etc., that we may miss them from time to time. Sometimes it's a familiar voice we recognise or a manner of speech. Whatever changes there may be (only some look as they were x years ago), we are often surprised -- taken aback a bit.
In the resurrection it's backwards. If we're used to faces as they are in middle age or old age we might get quite a surprise to find ourselves with loved ones looking as they did in their early 20's, especially if we only knew them later on in life.
Jesus, after His bodily resurrection, was not recognised at first by Mary Magdalene, who thought He was the gardener (Jn.20:15). The two disciples on the road to Emmaus thought for some time that they were with a stranger. Then "their eyes were opened" and they recognised Him (Lk.24:31).
We must remember also that when Jesus appeared to Mary and the Emmaus disciples His resurrection glory was hidden so that He appeared as another human being would (Lk.24:15-16). Yet He was also "different". You can imagine what He will appear like when He returns in glory -- indeed, as witnessed by John the Apostle in the Book of Revelation. You will remember how Moses' face shone so brightly after he had been communing with the Lord on Mt.Sinai that the people could not look at him (Ex.34:30). If a mortal prophet can take on that such a lustre in this life you can imagine what he will look like in the resurrection!
So, yes, we will recognise one another in the resurrection but we will all look different. The difference will be the celestial rather than the earthly. And, alas, the opposite will be true in the dark realms where the souls whose faces are contorted with sin and evil dwell -- we will likely not recognise them at all.
This page was created on 16 October 1997
Last updated on 26 February 1998
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