Jesus and the angels told Mary that he was not dead

Luke 24:5 “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

The angels at the tomb testified that Jesus was alive. Therefore Jesus did not die.

John 20:17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go instead to my brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” When Jesus said that he had not yet ascended to the Father, he meant that he had not yet died.

Jesus was described as alive, not because he didn’t die, but because he rose from the dead. This is clear from the following verses.

Luke 24:6,7 “He is not here, but is risen! Remember how he spoke to you while he was still in Galilee, saying The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified and the third day rise again.

The phrase “ascended to the Father” means literally “going up to heaven to meet the Father”; it does not mean “die”. Why? Because Jesus said in John 20:17, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. Did Jesus say, “I have not yet died but go and tell everyone that I am dying.” Of course not.

But why did Jesus tell Mary that he has not yet ascended to the Father? Surely Mary could see Jesus standing there and if he was standing there, of course he had not yet ascended to the Father. Jesus could only say that if he knew that he would ascend to the Father and return to earth again. In other words he was telling Mary, “Don’t think that I have ascended to my Father and re­turned; I have not yet ascended to my Father.” And then he said, “Go to my brethren and say to them, I am as­cending to my Father.” Later he asked his disciple, Thomas to touch him (John 20:27). You see, after Jesus had ascended to the Father, he allowed his disciples to touch him.

Jesus assured his disciples that he was not a ghost.

 (Luke 24:36-43)  While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” {37} They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. {38} He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? {39} Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” {40} When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. {41} And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” {42} They gave him a piece of broiled fish, {43} and he took it and ate it in their presence.

Muslims say that in doing all these, Jesus was trying to prove to his disciples that he had not died.

Jesus was only trying to prove to them that he was not a spirit, ghost; he was not trying to prove to them that he had not died.

Jesus could not be trying to prove to his disciples that he did not die.

This can be seen from the conversation that immediately follows that earlier passage.

(Luke 24:44-46)  He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” {45} Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. {46} He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,

The Bible teaches that the resurrected body does have flesh.

Acts 10:41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen–by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

(Mat 28:4-9 NIV)  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. {5} The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. {6} He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. {7} Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” {8} So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. {9} Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, *clasped his feet* and worshiped him.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that the resurrected body will be a spirit.

Muslims wrongly appeal to the following verse to argue that Jesus taught that the resurrected body must be in the form of spirit.

(Luke 20:35-36)  But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, {36} and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels.

In the above verses, Jesus is simply saying that resurrected people will be like angels in the sense that they will not marry and that they will not die. Jesus is not saying that resurrected people will be like angels in all aspects and therefore they will be spiritualised. He could not have meant that resurrected bodies will be like angels in all aspects for that would make them angels. It is against both Muslim and Christian doctrines that when one dies, one becomes an angel.

Muslim response

According to Muslims, these verses teach that the resurrected body is a spirit.

1 cor 15:44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

15:45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.

Christian response

These verses are not talking about resurrection.

Even the Quran teaches that the resurrected body is not a spirit

Surah 75

1. I do call to witness the Resurrection Day;

2. And I do call to witness the self-reproaching spirit: (Eschew Evil).

3. Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones?

4. Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers.

Even if you do not believe that Jesus has already resurrected you should not argue against the Quran that the resurrected body is a spirit.

Jesus said he was lifted up alive by God.

(John 8:28)  So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.

This verse shows that Jesus was lifted up alive by God, also in accordance with the Quran.

John 8:28’s “lifting up” refers to Jesus’ crucifixion. In another occasion, he also referred to his crucifixion on the cross as a “lifting up”.

(John 3:14)  Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,

John 8:28 cannot possibly refer to Jesus being raised up alive. The people who will be lifting him up are the Jews – “You” is the subject. Surely we are not saying that from this verse, Jesus is teaching that the Jews will be the one who will raise him up alive to God.

​Mary’s conversation betrays her knowledge that Jesus was still alive.

 (John 20:15)  “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Mary used the word “him” and not “it” for corpse because she knew Jesus was still alive. Also, she said, “where you have put him”, not “where you have buried him” and finally “and I will get him” meaning that “I will carry him away”. The fact that Mary thought she could carry Jesus all by herself also proves that Jesus was not dead. If Jesus was dead, why does she want to carry a rotting body and where can she carry it to?

Firstly, there is nothing wrong with referring to a corpse as a “him” or “her”. We do it in modern day and the Jews did it too it their day (See John 12:17).

Secondly, when Mary says “put him”, she uses the Greek word “bastazo” which simply means “carry” (See Luke 10:4). To put a corpse in a tomb, you have to carry it there. She could have used the word “buried” but she did not. It means nothing.

Mary did not say that she wants to carry Jesus away all by herself. In English, when we say that we will get something done, we do not mean that we will do it all by ourselves and not get anybody’s help at all. Similarly, we should not impose on Mary’s statement what we do not impose on modern English. Mary could be saying that she would take Jesus’ body away, thinking in her head that she would enlist the disciples’ help. Notice in the earlier verses (John 20:1-10) that Mary was originally with the disciples who had now gone home.

It is also possible that Mary did not think of enlisting the other disciples’ help because she was already with a group of other woman. John’s account concentrated on the reaction of Mary. It does not rule out the possibility that there were other women around. When we look at the same account in the other gospels, we realise that other women were present at that time. (See Mark 16:1, Matt 28:1, Luke 24:10).

Finally, why would Mary want to bring a corpse away? Does that not prove that Jesus was still alive? No. It is possible that Mary had thought of bringing the body of Jesus to another tomb to be buried, seeing that Jesus could not be left in this tomb undisturbed. It is unlikely that so many of Jesus’ disciples could not pool enough money to pay for one.