From the Sermon – The Resurrection of the Body
We say, when we recite the Apostles Creed that we believe in the ‘resurrection of the body’. We say this despite the fact that most of the time when we depart this life the body we leave behind is in pretty bad shape. It is usually not something that we would want resurrected.
I think most of us visualize our loved ones, when we meet them over on the other shore, as being in good health, and vigorous physical condition. My daughter’s body was shattered by a bullet from a high-powered rifle, fired at close range; I don’t expect to see her like that when we meet again. My mother was in her nineties when she died; time alone had destroyed what had at one time been a beautiful body. This body I have right now was never beautiful, but it used to be in better shape than it is now. Will I be resurrected with plastic eyes, electronic ears, and a metal hip?
John the Evangelist has an interesting verse from another context: In Jn 12.24 he says – paraphrased “Unless a grain of wheat is planted, it remains one seed, but if it is planted, it dies, and it bears much fruit.”
It must have been the common understanding back then that when you planted a seed it had to die during the long cold winter. Then in the spring, since it sprouted, it must have been resurrected. This whole process was a mystery to those people; not that modern scientists understand much more. What we do know is that the seed does not die. I say that we know that, but search the net for an exposition of this verse and you see that most people accept it without question.
Paul had considered this problem, too. Apparently some of his followers in Corinth wondered about how this could be. In response, Paul wrote to them in his first letter to the Corinthians: I Cor 15 paraphrased:
35. Some will ask, “How are the dead raised?” With what kind of a body do they come?” his answer:
36: What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
(This sounds a whole lot like John’s verse we just discussed. This must have been a common saying of the time. He uses the term ‘sow’ throughout this passage, indicating to me at least, that he sees an analogy between the planted seed and the buried body. When he says ‘sow’ he means ‘bury’.)
37: And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.
38: But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. (If you plant a turnip seed, you will get a turnip.) (This sounds like he is continuing with the planted-seed theme.)
42: So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is buried is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.
43: It is buried in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is buried in weakness, it is raised in power.
44: It is buried a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.
45: Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46: But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual.
47: The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.
48: As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven.
49: Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.
50: I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
51: Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52: in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
53: For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality.
54: When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
55: "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?"
Thank you, Paul, for clearing this up for us.
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