But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.
So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 (ESV)
As we profess in the last two “I believe” statements of the Apostle’s Creed: I believe in…the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.
The images we see in popular culture, such as in cartoons, when a character dies and its ethereal spirit rises to heaven, are not quite accurate. We are both body and spirit, not just one or the other. When Jesus returns for His people we will be changed from an earthly, mortal creature with a disease and decay prone body, to a heavenly, eternal creature with an eternal incorruptible body. The old Adam, who was born of the dust, will die and be buried, but the new Adam will bear the image of the second Man- Jesus.
The apostle Paul uses the analogy of planting. We plant a kernel of corn knowing that individual kernel will die, but that’s not the end of it. It will be transformed and will become a corn plant that will have many ears full of kernels of corn. Just one kernel of corn won’t feed a family or even one person, but many corn plants can feed many people.
When we look at the death of Jesus we understand that in His death, He sacrificed His body so that many would be freed from their sins. Without His death our deaths are simply our physical bodies returning to the $8 and some change worth of essential elements they were comprised of. But we who are baptized into Christ, and buried with Him will rise and be transformed.
There has to be death before life. It seems sad that it must be that way. But when we look at it from the standpoint that Jesus has conquered death for us, and that we share in resurrection life with Him, then it is no longer something to be afraid of.
Lord, help us to rely upon you alone, and keep us from being captive to fear. Forgive us when we doubt You or we trust in mortal men or other things that cannot give life or save us. You have defeated death and the grave for us. You are here with us now, through the valleys of shadow, and You are returning for all of Your people soon. Help us to live with the confidence that we belong to You.