Just a thought I had as I was ruminating on these words of Jesus: “Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which people may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.” (John 6:49-51a).
I’m gonna throw this thought out there; if you like it, you can take it, and if you don’t, you can send it right back:
I’ve wondered before about the possibility of there being death prior to the “fall” of humans–possibly even death as a part of the created order. I’ve considered this from a somewhat scientific angle (so far as my limited scientific capacity allowed), but not from a theological or ontological angle. (This is all speculative, of course.)
What if death was originally meant to be a sort of metamorphosis in the process of creation and that, prior to the fall, humans would naturally come out on the other side of death in a sort of resurrection into the final form of the physical life? That is, what if creation (or human development specifically) is not complete until a human had passed through death into new life? This came to mind as I was reading this passage because while Jesus promises eternal life (“not die,” “will live forever”), his disciples still died. People of faith around the world die natural deaths every day. It’s a question I’ve had for a while.
Today, however, it occurred to me that Jesus’ death was necessary in order for him to enter into the eternal life. That doesn’t sound very profound, but listen: Jesus’ resurrected body is completely physical, but in a way which we have not experienced. He eats and drinks and can be touched, but evidently he also walks through walls. Could the transition between our physicality and “resurrected physicality” be made without dying?
Going back to the result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in Genesis 3, then, this idea would mean that the result of this disobedience was not death in itself but a specifically permanent death–that is, death which is not passed through, but one which is permanent, without resurrection into a new physical reality.
Interesting idea. But possibly crazy.