I don’t recommend toying with Scripture, but I must admit one of the funniest signs I’ve seen in a church is the one above the baby nursery that quotes, “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.” Signs are very useful. Signs help me spend a lot less time in the grocery store than I would if there were no signs. Signs keep me from wandering off the trail. Signs stop me from driving up one-way-down streets. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a sign.
Paul continues his discussion of the importance of the resurrection in today’s reading. If there is no resurrection; if there is only ‘you die and you’re done,’ then that completely changes the way a person would live. There would be a strong sense of absurdity to life. There would be little reason to do anything that had risk or danger attached to it. Just ‘eat and drink,’ just live for comfort, for pleasure – after all, tomorrow you could be gone. Gone for good. Non-existent.
But Paul says, that is crazy advice from the crowd that will lead you into corruption. That is an approach to life that comes from an ignorance of God. Life begins in the flesh, and yes, there is death for the flesh, but life ends in the spirit. Jesus guarantees it. Actually, it’s as obvious as kindergarten science. Remember? You took that dried up bean and you slid it down between the construction paper strip and the side of the clear plastic cup. You watered it and set it on the window sill. And then … something marvelous happened. Something in that bean responded to the rays of the sun. A tiny root shot downward and a tender stem shot upward. You ever wonder how they know which way is which? They don’t even need a sign. But they ARE a sign! “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.”
There is life after death. There is the physical body and there is the spiritual body. I can’t improve on Paul’s poetry so I’ll just repeat it:
“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised 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.”
And when this happens, “Death has been swallowed up in victory … through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is such a strong and comforting passage that I have read it at every graveside service I have officiated. It matters that people walk from the cemetery knowing that the one who has fallen asleep in Christ will soon be an imperishable, glorious, powerful, spiritual being! The ‘seed’ of their beloved will respond to the “raise of the Son.”
Pray: Everliving God, thank you for showing us that there is life after death. Thank you for the sign of the Risen Christ. Death doesn’t get the victory; we do through Jesus our Redeemer. Help us to show those who are dead in sin and ignorant of God the way out of the land of “whatever.” There is so much more to life than they know. More to life, and less to death.