When the world confronts us with a perplexing question, we often put it aside, assuming someone with greater knowledge will provide the answer.
In the same way, when the Bible confronts us with teachings about our heavenly home, we are tempted to put the subject aside and say, “Why bother with figuring out the details of heaven? We will just have to wait and see, and be more practical in our Christian practice today.”
It is interesting that God, in his Word, whets our appetites with thoughts of eternity. He reminds us that “. . . here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is yet to come” (Hebrews 13:14). So today we discuss the theme, “Our Resurrected Body.”
I like what William Barclay writes concerning our text in I Corinthians 15:42-44: “Before we begin to try to understand this section of God’s Word, we do well to remember that Paul is talking about things that no one really knows anything about. He is not talking about matters of fact, but matters of faith. He is trying to express the inexpressible and to describe the indescribable, and he is doing the best he can with human words, which are all he has to work with.”
During the forty days between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension into heaven, he made several appearances to his disciples and others. On Easter evening he came into the room where some disciples gathered. Though the doors were locked, Jesus entered through closed doors. He showed them his hands and side, and then left. This brought great excitement to those disciples (John 20:19-20).
Thomas, one of the twelve, was not with them in the room, however. They were excited to share this news when Thomas joined them and said to him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But Thomas quickly replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
A week later when the disciples were together and Thomas was with them, Jesus appeared again. “Thomas, put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 26-28).
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen me and yet have believed” (v. 29).
Another example of Jesus appearing to his followers was on the road to Emmaus. They were visiting about the hottest bit of news: that Jesus had been raised. Jesus joined them in their discussion about his resurrection; however, neither of the followers of Jesus recognized him (Luke 24:13-16).
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. However, they convinced him to stay with them since it was getting dark. So he accepted their invitation (v. 28-29).
While they were at the table, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. It was then that the lights came on and they recognized him. But then he was gone, and they asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning when he talked to us?” (v. 30-32).
What do we learn about bodily recognition from Jesus’ appearances after he came forth from the tomb?
1. Jesus had a different appearance, though he was the same person. His body was not limited, as it was before the resurrection. To go from one room to another, he had to go through a door. Now the doors were locked and he still stood among them. Once in the room, his actions showed them that he was Jesus.
2. Before the resurrection, Jesus talked about the mission before him. Now his mission was accomplished. However, his disciples’ mission is about to begin by going into the world and making disciples of all people through baptizing and teaching.
Now we move to our resurrected body. Paul gives us a few insights: “The body that is sown is perishable; it is raised imperishable” (I Corinthians 15:42).
1. Our body deteriorates. It will return to the dust. Attend your high school or college reunions and you will quickly learn that after a few years we hardly recognize each other. The beauty queen has lost some of her physical attractiveness. The strong body of the athlete has been attacked by disease or accident, and now he could not run a hundred yards under any condition.
A few days ago I had an X-ray on my knee. As we were walking down the corridor to the machine, the technician asked what I thought was wrong with my knee. The answer came easily: “It is old and has many miles on it. I believe it is worn out.” She tried to be kind by saying, “Maybe not.”
However, the good news is that the new body is raised imperishable. It will never die. What a message!
2. “It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory” (v. 43). We have not always lived God-pleasing lives. Peter denied Christ; Paul stoned the Christians. His sins were so many that he identified himself by saying, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).
We are sinners, but because of Christ we go to the grave as forgiven sinners. We are not as righteous as we try to present ourselves. But when we receive our resurrected body, it will be different, for we will be sinless. Wrestle with that thought for a moment. Can you imagine yourself without sin?
3. “It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power” (v. 43). Physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually speaking our weaknesses are apparent. We cannot hide our real self very long. This is what every newlywed couple experiences.
We will be raised with bodies that have not inherited our sinful nature and have no temptation, for sin has been conquered at the cross.
4. “It is sown in a natural body; it is raised in a spiritual body” (v. 44). In this mortal body even God the Holy Spirit is limited in what he can do with us. The natural body can say no to God. But we are raised in a spiritual body. With the spiritual body, God can fill us with his spirit.
These explanations are lacking. As Paul says, “Now we know in part; then I shall know fully” (I Corinthians 13:12).
Remember when we were children, how we dreamed about what we would become? We would be a successful person Ð maybe President of the United States, a popular athlete, or a talented musician. We were told to continue dreaming.
As Christians struggling with the cares of this life, we have a right to dream of the life that is to come. When the going is rough, do not forget to dream, for we know there is a tomorrow and God will walk with us into that tomorrow. We know that, although we may feel this life is good and we do not want to leave it, life on the other side of death will be better.
Two of my friends have expressions that help me with what lies before us. One man said of his son who was killed, “He is on the other side.”
Lloyd Ogilvie refers to his wife’s death by saying, “She graduated to heaven with a resurrected body.”
What we are going to be like will be a surprise. Just remember that God will give us a new and resurrected body. Hallelujah.