1 Corinthians 15: 35-49
There is a hope in death. Death is not burial but planting.
The resurrection is glorious, hopeful, real and even creative.
- The worry about what kind of body we will have is as irrelevant as the question of what kind of plant will emerge when a seed is planted (v37). When we talk about the resurrection, we are not talking about reanimated corpses… rather, we know that God gives us new bodies! God makes all things different (v39-40), so your new body may well be very different from mine. The point is: our resurrection bodies are as different from our current ones as a plant is from the seed that is planted. They are not just different, but also glorious- they are what they were meant to be! We take much more pleasure in flowers than in seeds. We get far more nourishment from fruit than we do from seeds. The flowers and the fruit are what we get when the seeds become truly what they were made to be.
- The plant and seed analogy also shows that there is continuity. A plant does not just emerge from the ground. The plant and the seed are not disconnected. If you plant a tomato seed, you get a tomato plant. If you plant a sunflower seed, you get a sunflower plant. The body of the plant may be different from the seed, but the DNA of the seed is exactly the same as that in the plant. In the same way, at the resurrection, our new bodies are not going to be so divorced from what we are right now. You and I are still going to be who we are. Everyone who has ever died in the Lord will still be who they were. The difference is that they are NOW the plant.
- What a wonderful, hopeful, glorious picture with which you and I can face the death of a loved one. When Christ returns, we are not going to be reanimated corpses. We are not going to be strangers who are disconnected from who we are now and not recognising each other. NO, at that time, we will be the plants… plants that our lives now are the seeds of.
- Our bodies now are perishable, but our bodies then will be imperishable. There will be no hearing loss, no blurry vision, no arthritis, no dementia. Right now, we find dying and death sad because it robs us of the glory and honour that we once had–it is sad to see somebody not as they once were because death drags us down. When a seed is buried, it is covered in dirt. Yet, when a seed is buried, it is then that we get the glory and the beauty of the flower! Seeds are ok, but don’t love them too much because a garden that is filled with sweet fruit and bright flowers is REALLY GLORIOUS! We do not know what our resurrection bodies will look like, but we can be sure that their glory will surpass that of our present bodies- just as the glory of a flower surpasses that of its seed. Our bodies that are sown in weakness will be raised in power! The hope of the resurrection is that our new bodies will not fail, and will not break. In our new physical bodies, we will not be desiring pointless things. We will thus love and pursue only the best, the purest, the most loving thoughts and actions, because we will be filled and led by the spirit.
- We have not buried our loved ones who have died in the Lord. We have simply planted them. We have hope in death as we wait for the beautiful bloom of their flower
There is a hope for life
- Although the plants are not yet, the seed is still ours now. We are living now. We are not just waiting for the flowers to spring up. There is work to do! v58 stand firm, let nothing move you, give yourselves fully to the Lord. If we have hope in death, if there is hope for reunion with loved ones in imperishable bodies, and if there is glory waiting to blossom and we look forward to a life that will never die, then we should NOT “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.” Rather, there is something that we can invest in today, labour that we can give ourselves to that will bear fruit in eternity. We can and should cultivate the seeds today by working hard for the fruit we expect to come later.
- Because we believe in the resurrection, we do not feel any pressure to complete our bucket lists. You are not going to miss out. We are free from the obsessions over our carb intake, our gym routines and our career plans. We do not have to be misguided by the advice to “maximise this life” and “seize the day”- we have hope for a glorious eternity.
- Our hope for life thus helps us choose between 30 minutes in the gym vs 30 minutes in the bible, summer holiday vs summer missions. The hope of the resurrection helps us make choices that are not meaningless.
This is a hope from heaven
- v50 Our current perishable bodies are not the right ones for God’s kingdom. Our bodies were made for earth, from the earth (v47). We need new ones fit for God’s kingdom in heaven- just like the one Jesus already has! Jesus has a physical resurrection body, so will ours be. And just as spiritual his resurrection body is, so will ours be. We inherit our earthly body from Adam, but we inherit our heavenly bodies from the life-giving spirit that is Jesus.
- The man from heaven brings life to the dead of the earth. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” (John 11:25) Jesus broke death. If that is true, Jesus will raise those who belong to him, follow him and rely on his death as a punishment for their sins. His resurrection is a blueprint of what will happen to us when our turn comes to be raised from the dead!