These are unusual and difficult days throughout our world. So I want to encourage you in the truth, truth that remains constant and unaffected by any event. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. We rest in him. The early church celebrated Easter not just one day, but extended the focus on the risen Lord over the following fifty days through Ascension to Pentecost. In keeping with that tradition, we continue with the daily devotionals through Eastertide!
The purpose of these daily encounters with Scripture remains the same: 1) They can provide an opportunity to encounter the Lord daily speaking through his written Word. 2) They can give us a better grasp of the whole unity of the Bible as one grand story and increase our knowledge of this Library of Books. 3) They can help get us into the daily pattern of reading Scripture. 4) They can give us a daily encounter with vocal music of substance to inspire our faith. 5) And the concluding prayers can introduce us to some of the saints of the past and “sinners” from the present! I can think of no better way to start the day. As always, I appreciate your helping to pass the word along. As always, subscribing is free at: sharpdevotional.com
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
© Daniel Sharp 2021
Monday, April 5
Reader: “Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die,”
Response: “but they will be raised to live forever.”
Scripture: I Corinthians 15:35-49
But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.
It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.
The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man.
Reader: “The Word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Following the glory of the great celebration of the resurrection yesterday, it is no surprise that today our attention would turn to our own resurrection. People in Paul’s day wondered some of the very same things we are curious about. What happens to our soul and spirit when we die? That personality, that being that is “you,” where does that go, what happens to it and what kind of a “resurrection body” do we have after death? Notice, there is no question at all if there is life after death, or if there is a resurrection of human beings, or if we have some kind of a body after we die. The Scriptures give us clear help in stretching our understanding.
Once again, let’s walk our way through this passage. As far as the first question, as to how the dead will be raised, Paul gives us no help. God did it and he didn’t explain the “how.” How does one explain a miracle, the impossible? When it comes to creation, for example, God simply said and it was. Maybe the “how” of resurrection is the same. God simply speaks. The actual process remains a mystery.
The second question is a little more concrete. What will our resurrection bodies be like? In addressing this question, Paul gives us an analogy of a seed. The point is a seed of corn grows into a corn plant. Being planted in the earth is part of the necessary process to produce a stalk of corn. The germination of the seed (resurrection) is the process which produces the corn plant. The seed looks very different from the mature corn plant it produces. Yet the two states of the process, planting and germination of the seed are related. Such is the case of a resurrection body.
If the life in our earthly body is the “seed” stage and when we die we get “planted in the earth,” but what happens then? Having left our earthly body in the ground as “dust returns to dust,” what will our heavenly body be like? Paul is clear. God gives us the body he wants us to have. The “seed” determines the species of the body. Earthly and heavenly bodies differ. We may see a glorious earthly body, but it is nothing like a heavenly body! But the “you” is a “resurrected you.” You haven’t lost your personhood.
Do we have hints in other parts of Scripture as to what a heavenly body might look like? Angels have bodies different from human bodies which is probably why fear was often present at an angel visitation. They are a different kind of “seed.” There are a set number of angels from creation and they do not procreate. We have a hint in the “appearance” of Samuel in the account of Saul and the witch of Endor. His body had a shape like Samuel and the voice of Samuel. There was some connection between Samuel’s earthly body and his body from the nether world. The spirit and soul of Samuel had not changed, but this “body” was unlike his earthly body.
As we have mentioned before, Moses and Elijah at the Mount of Transfiguration appeared in their heavenly bodies which were distinct from each other and from the bodies of the disciples. Jesus likewise appeared in his glorified body which differed still more. The glory and brilliance of the heavenly body was a stark contrast to the glory of the earthly bodies of the disciples. Paul also uses the sun, moon, and stars as his example of different bodies and differing degrees of glory.
After giving these analogies, Paul moves away from the physical descriptions of bodies and turns our attention to the spirit and soul side of death. The earthly body is planted in the ground but is raised to live forever. It is buried in brokenness, but raised in glory. It is buried in weakness, but raised in strength. It is buried as a natural human body, but raised as a spiritual body. Such is the case of every person trusting in Christ. The contrast is between earthly temporal and the spiritual heavenly and eternal.
If we go back to creation, we find that Adam’s physical being was created first and then the Spirit of God breathed into him and man became a living soul (Gen.2:7). Notice that God created man in that order, body first then soul and spirit. Unlike other parts of God’s creation which are not formed in “the image of God,” Adam was a human being because he possessed a body, soul, and spirit. Adam came from the dust of the earth while Christ came from the glories of heaven. Though we are presently “earthly” people, we will be “heavenly” people. Christ’s resurrection made this possible.
So how does all of this settle out? Put as simply as possible: everyone dies and is resurrected in the future, those trusting in Christ to everlasting life in the presence of God and others to judgment (Jn.5:28-29). Our resurrected bodies will have properties and capabilities very different from our earthly bodies. They will be glorious, strong, immortal, perfectly spiritual and like Jesus’ own uniquely “physical” resurrected body (I Cor.15:35-58). A reminder, he ate food in his resurrected body (Luke 24:36-41). Our heavenly body will have different properties than our present body. We will clearly not be a floating “spirit” playing a harp! We will be recognizable as who we are as unique persons with fully redeemed souls and spirits. Because of the physical resurrection of Jesus and his ascension to the right hand of the Father, all of these things will come to pass for you and for me. Can you imagine what it will be like to have been made perfect body, soul, and spirit by Christ, glorifying our great God? We have something to look forward to! Hallelujah!
Music: “Et resurrexit” Bach from b minor mass English Consort
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8BCArASBkI This tempo is a little quick but communicates the joy of the resurrection!
O God, we give thanks that your Son, Jesus Christ, who has shared our earthly life, has now ascended to prepare our heavenly life. Grant that, through coming to know him by faith on earth, we may come to know him by sight in heaven. Amen.
―from the Gelasian Sacramentary, Prayers for Easter, p.103