1 Corinthians 15:35-58
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. – 1 Corinthians 15:43-44 NLT
As I write this post this morning, my 91-year old father lies in a hospital room in Fort Worth, Texas, having suffered two grand mal seizures just a few days ago. When I walked into his room the morning after he had had them, what I saw was a shock to my system. Lying in the bed was a small, pale body that looked nothing like the man I have known for 58 years. My father had been through an ordeal and his body showed it. He appeared near death. His ninety one years of life had seemed to catch up with him in a hurry, with the latest ordeal having taken a final toll. Thankfully, God has His hands on my father's life and seems to be restoring him, slowly but surely. But upon first seeing our father lying in that hospital bed, my brother and I both remarked that it appeared as if dad was ready to go home. He was hearing heaven call. Today's passage couldn't have been more timely. When I read the verses above this morning, I couldn't help but see that image of my father's frail body lying under those thin hospital sheets and illuminated by the stark light of that cold, inhospitable ICU room. His body appeared broken and weak. His body looked frail and fragile. Inside was the man I have always known. His mind still sharp. His love for God unwavering. His passion for Jesus unchanged. It reminded me of another passage from the pen of Paul found in his second letter to the Corinthians. "For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies, we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has give us his Holy Spirit" (2 Corinthians 5:1-5 NLT).
We will have new bodies. It's guaranteed! My dad will one day be released from the confines of his earthly, human "tent" and take up residence in a new body prepared for Him by God. Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand that same reality. Our earthly bodies were made for life on this earth. But they are not equipped to handle heaven. They are temporal, and heaven is eternal. And should my father live (and I pray that he will), and the Lord returns, he will receive a new spiritual body. "It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye" (1 Corinthians 15:52 NLT). His earthly body, weak and worn out as it is, will be transformed into a new, spiritual body that will never die. He will become immortal. His body will become eternal. What will he look like? I have no idea. Will he appear as he did in that hospital bed? I think not. What age will he appear? I don't know. But I do know that the day is coming when he will receive a new body that will never grow old, never succumb to disease, never experience pain, and never require hospitalization or medical treatment of any kind. The physical death of our bodies is the result of the fall – the sin of Adam and Eve in their rejection of God. Death entered the equation because they chose to live for themselves, rather than obey and honor God. "But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57 NLT). As believers, we don't have to fear death, because God has promised us eternal life and new spiritual bodies with which to experience it. We will get to exchange these old, worn-out tents for new ones. My dad will some day receive a new body that is strong, virile, and disease and pain free. The resurrection of our bodies is not just wishful thinking. It is a promise of God. And as I go up to visit my dad in just a few minutes, I will take that promise with me, clinging to the words of Paul, "So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable" (1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT). My God is faithful. He is not done yet.
Father, thank You that this is not all there is. As much as I love my life, I am so grateful that there is more to come. There is something far greater in store that You have planned for us. These bodies and our existence on this planet are temporary, not permanent. Our pain and suffering are only for the moment. There is a day coming when all things will be renewed and restored to their original state, including our bodies. May I not forget that in the days ahead. Should my dad survive, I will praise You. Should You decide to take him home, I will rejoice in the fact that He is with You. He will have a new body. He will have renewed strength. He will be at home with the Lord – where he was meant to be. Thank You!. Amen.