Jesus Lives and So Shall I
“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him….But someone may ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’ 1 Corinthians 15:22-23,35
Planting a few flowers in the garden last week wore me out. At a younger age this was nothing; I certainly used to do a whole lot more difficult work all day, all week, and all year. But age has a way of catching up to us; my parts are being replaced as they wear out, and the replacement parts are not as good as the original ones! The Second Law of Thermodynamics is proving true in our bodies; everything is breaking down. You might ask what the Easter celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ has done for your body today and will do into your future. We all still die and our bodies are put in the grave and over time they return to dust. What then is there to raise when Jesus comes? St. Paul addresses the question I would think interests you in his answering this, “With what kind of body will they [we] come, when we are resurrected?
In the forty days after the resurrection of Jesus there was opportunity for some men and women to see what an immortal and incorruptible body looks like; of what does a spiritual body consist? He was seen according to the Scriptures by Mary Magdalen, two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the disciples and whoever was with the apostles on two different occasions in a locked room, to Peter, to seven of the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee, to five hundred of his brethren in one place, and to those who witnessed His ascension. Because Jesus suddenly appeared in the midst of his disciples behind locked doors on two occasions, there was obviously no need for the stone to be rolled away from the tomb for the resurrected Jesus to leave it. The stone was only rolled away by angels from the entrance of the tomb for our benefit and the benefit of His enemies. Apparently, His body had a different quality anatomically than flesh and blood have now. Jesus could be touched; he still bore his resurrection scars which could be seen and felt; he ate with them; he was not at first recognized on the road to Emmaus, but at some point in his interaction with them their eyes were opened and they recognized the Lord. It was a transformed body from what was placed in the tomb, but there also was no dead body that remained separate from His resurrected one. There is some manifestation of continuity in eternity.
St. Paul sought in 1 Corinthians 15 to reveal to us the difference between our body now, the bodies of those who have preceded us in death, and the body with which we will all be raised. It is something about which we ought to be curious, and to which we should give thought, and, yes, action in the present. According to Paul’s answer the seed of your spiritual body is being now formed in you. (1 Corinthians 15:36-38) The seed being formed must die to produce a new body from that seed. Sound confusing? It is, partially because you have yet to experience it. But according to many texts in the Bible, dying to self and living to Christ is an ongoing work in you right now of sanctification that leads to glorification in your new eternal body, when you are raised from the dead. Therefore, presently, if you as a follower of Christ are striving by the Holy Spirit to become like Christ in your inner being, which cannot help but be seen outwardly, then you are in the process of forming the seed of your new spiritual body. It consists of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5), of the Beatitudes of Matthew 5, character traits that can only be attained by dying to self and living to Christ. Out of that seed, apparently still uniquely you, God brings a body “as He has determined (1 Corinthians 15:38) that will be yours for eternity. You will be known as you are known the Scriptures tell us. You will know others and they will know you. Yet the seed you are forming now will have an effect on the body that will be yours forever.
St. Paul concludes this explanation of the difference between the natural body and the spiritual body, which comes from the seed now being formed in you, with this encouragement: “Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58) So the body is wearing out, manifested in my aching body and exerted breathing, but the seed of your new body is being formed. It is your developing character that is forming that seed, not your aging flesh and blood, and it will pass through death and the grave and result in your new body at the last resurrection.
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