How would you answer his question if Jesus specifically asked you, “Who do you think that I am?” You might say Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world! Or, you may say that he is the son of Joseph and Mary. Or, that he is the second member of the Holy Trinity. Let’s listen in as Jesus poses just such a question to his close students.
“Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.’” -- Luke 9:18-19 (CEB).
No doubt, you have noticed that the crowd which his disciples spoke to probably answered differently than you did. I mean, you did not say that he was the reincarnation of a Jewish prophet, which had lived many centuries before -- did you?
Yes, many of the Jews 2000 years ago believed in the pre-existence of the soul as well as the reincarnation of the soul, again and again. And yet the New Testament teaches resurrection – not reincarnation. Resurrection means the soul returns to life in his human body. Reincarnation means the soul returns to life in a different human body.
I don’t know if Jesus asked Paul, but here’s what he has to say: “But someone may ask, ‘How are the dead raised? What kind of body will they have?’ These are stupid questions. When you plant something, it must die in the ground before it can live and grow. And when you plant something, what you plant does not have the same ‘body’ that it will have later. What you plant is only a seed, maybe wheat or something else. But God gives it the body that he has planned for it …
It will be the same when those who have died are raised to life. The body that is ‘planted’ in the grave will ruin and decay, but it will be raised to a life that cannot be destroyed. When the body is ‘planted,’ it is without honor. But when it is raised, it will be great and glorious. When the body is ‘planted,’ it is weak. But when it is raised, it will be full of power. The body that is ‘planted’ is a physical body. When it is raised, it will be a spiritual body. There is a physical body. So there is also a spiritual body.” -- 1 Corinthians 15:35-38,42-44 (NLT)
Relax Paul, take it easy – I agree with you. Now, you are saying that resurrection means the soul cannot return to live in the dead, physical body which has been buried in a grave, but that the soul will harvest an invisible, non-corporeal body – a spiritual body. But you haven’t answered the question about reincarnation. Does the soul ever return to the earth to be born again as another human being? I’m sorry folks. As of this writing, Paul has not got back with me.
So when Jesus was crucified on the cross, he harvested a spiritual body, according to Paul. But Jesus said to his disciples: “It is I myself! Touch me and see.”
– Luke 24:37
Yogananda writes of his deceased guru: “I was roused from my meditation by a beatific light...Waves of rapture engulfed me as I beheld the flesh and blood form of Sri Yukteswar! ‘Yes, my child, I am the same. This is a flesh and blood body. Though I see it as ethereal, to your sight it is physical . . . Please, dear one, won't you relax your hold a little?’” – Autobiography of a Yogi (chapter 43)