John 20:19—How could Jesus walk through a closed door with a physical body?
Problem: It is inferred by some critics that, since the resurrected Christ could appear in a room with closed doors (John 20:19), this proves that His body must have dematerialized to do so, showing that His resurrection body was not essentially or continuously material. However, many other Scriptures indicate that Jesus’ resurrection body was literal “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39) that could eat physical food and even had the crucifixion scars in it (Luke 24:40–43).
Solution: Jesus’ resurrection body was essentially and continuously material (see comments on Luke 24:34). The fact that Jesus could get into a room with a closed door in no way proves that He had to dematerialize in order to do it. This is clear for several reasons.
First, the text does not actually say Jesus passed through a closed door. It simply says that “when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst” (John 20:19). The Bible does not say how He got into the room.
Second, if He chose to do so, Jesus could have performed this same miracle before His death in His pre-resurrection material body. As the Son of God, His miraculous powers were just as great before the Resurrection.
Third, even before His resurrection Jesus performed miracles with His physical body that transcended natural laws, such as walking on water (John 6:16–20). But walking on water did not prove that His pre-resurrection body was immaterial. Otherwise, Peter’s pre-resurrection walk on water (Matt. 14:29) would mean his body dematerialized for a moment and then quickly rematerialized!
Fourth, although physical, the resurrection body is by its very nature a supernatural body (see comments on 1 Cor. 15:44). Hence, it should be expected that it can do supernatural things, such as appearing in a room with closed doors.
Fifth, according to modern physics, it is not an impossibility for a material object to pass through a door. It is only statistically improbable. Physical objects are mostly empty space. All that is necessary for one physical object to pass through another is for the right alignment of the particles in the two physical objects. This is no problem for the One who created the body in the first place.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.