God, let Your Word of life make our resurrection hope stronger and alive. Amen.
Text: First Corinthians 15:35-44
But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain – perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fish, and another of birds. There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star differs from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 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. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
The fact that our body decays should not frighten us. Rather it should assure us about resurrection in glory. If the grain remained whole in the ground without dying, then no new grain would come from it. It must die in order to live. It must decay to become new. So also our body. “Yes, but the grain sends forth new shoots, while it is still alive. Our body on the other hand dies and decays before the new comes forth from it.” Do you know for sure that our body is gone because we do not see it any more? When you hold your hand in front of you, you see nothing between your hand and your eye, and yet that space is full of matter. If we do not see such earthly things, is it any wonder then that we do not see what is heavenly? The matter in your body changes – perhaps many times – in your lifetime, and yet your body is the same. It contains an eternal power to grow. Let it vanish before human eyes on earth, at sea, or in other bodies, wherever: the Lord will wake it up and give it a new heavenly form. We don’t imagine that your reason will make you sure of this. “The resurrection of the body” belongs to faith. But suppose you didn’t know about planting seeds. Wouldn’t you think it foolish to put grain in the ground? Or suppose you didn’t know the development of butterflies. Wouldn’t you consider the caterpillar in the cocoon to be dead forever? What can prevent God’s almighty power from waking our body? Just as the new grain is one with the seed from which it springs, so our new body shall be one with the body we now have. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27).
But just as the new grain is a new and different body than the seed, so also our resurrected body. Now we have the earthly form, of Adam and our Savior in His humiliation, but then we shall have the heavenly image, of the glorified Savior. Who can recognize the seriousness of death, feel its strength in his members, look down in the dark, cold grave, and read our Bible text without heartily thanking God for it? Our resurrected bodies will shine like the glory of the sun and the stars. O how all God’s children shall be healthy, beautiful, lovely, and glorious! But for that reason even now we should diligently strive to sanctify both soul and body and show the whole world that we have a living hope.
God, help us in this for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
I am flesh and must return
Unto dust, whence I am taken
But by faith I now discern
That from death I shall awaken
With my Savior to abide
In His glory, at His side.
Glorifled, I shall anew
With this flesh then be enshrouded;
In this body I shall view
God, my Lord, with eyes unclouded,
In this flesh I then shall see
Jesus Christ eternally.
Then these eyes my Lord shall know,
My Redeemer and my Brother;
In His love my soul shall glow,
I myself, and not another!
Then the weakness I feel here
Shall forever disappear.
They who sorrow here and moan
There in gladness shall be reigning;
Earthly here the seed is sown,
There immortal life attaining.
Here our sinful bodies die,
Glorifled to dwell on high.
Anon.: Jesus Christ, my sure defense L 565:4-7 ELH 532:4-7 tr. The Lutheran Hymnal;
tune: Jesus, meine Zuversicht