He walked the earth more than two thousand years ago. We hear about His crucifixion and His teachings. Easter is about His resurrection. But that’s where some people balk. Does that mean Jesus is alive? How could a man who had been publicly executed rise from the dead? History provides irrefutable evidence that Jesus Christ of Nazareth lived, but is He still alive today? Christians worship, sing, and pray to Jesus as though He is alive. Are they wrong to do so? In what sense is Jesus “alive”?
As human beings confined to a material world, we often understand life to be directly linked to physicality—a person is alive if his or her body is alive. But life runs deeper than that. The spirit realm is as real as the physical realm. Philippians 2:5–11 explains that Christ was already alive, as one with God, before the earth was spoken into existence (cf. John 1:1–3). The eternal Son of God has always been alive. Jesus was never not alive, even when His body was lying in the tomb.
Jesus spoke often of life outside of the material world (John 10:10). He promised eternal life to anyone who believed in Him (John 3:16–18). He explained that the kingdom He had come to establish was not of this world (John 18:36).
When God created the first man, “He breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). That life came from God, who is eternal. God breathed His own life into man, and that is why human life is unlike that of plants and animals. Humans have a spirit meant to live forever, just as God will live forever. The body will die, but even that will be raised again. When Jesus died on the cross, His body truly died and was buried, but His spirit was somewhere else, alive and well. He had committed His spirit into the Father’s hands (Luke 23:46).
When God raised Jesus from the dead, His spirit rejoined His body, which was now a glorified body (Philippians 3:21). Paul wrote that more than five hundred people saw Jesus after His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:6). The New Testament was written by eyewitnesses who had seen for themselves that Jesus was truly alive and was in the flesh.
Jesus is still alive today. He rose bodily from the dead, and He ascended bodily into heaven. Acts 1 recounts how, forty days after the resurrection, Jesus’ disciples were with Him when He suddenly began to rise into the air. They stared in amazement as He kept going and disappeared from sight (Acts 1:9–11). Jesus had predicted that He would return to the Father, and that is exactly what He did (John 14:1–2; John 20:17).
Jesus is alive in heaven with God, the angels, and all those who have trusted in Him for salvation (2 Corinthians 5:8). He sits at the right hand of the Father (Colossians 3:1), “higher than all the heavens” (Ephesians 4:10). “He always lives to intercede” for His followers on earth (Hebrews 7:25). And He promised to return again (John 14:1–2).
Just as Jesus’ spirit never died, neither will our spirits die (John 11:25–26). We will live forever somewhere. How we respond to God’s offer of salvation determines our destiny (John 3:16-18). Jesus told His followers, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). Upon that great hope we can build our lives, knowing that, like our Lord Jesus, we may die, but death is not the end.