The Resurrection (part 1)
- Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and we are. 1Jn. 3:1
Yet as we stand looking into the past with amazement at how far above our previous state as sinners we have become, John bids us turn our minds toward the future! The contrast into the future is far greater than the past. "Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is." (1Jn. 3:2) Just over the horizon of this life, there is something so new and different, so special and amazing that neither our mind nor imagination can grasp it. It has not yet been manifested because we have nothing in this age to illustrate or explain it. John simply summed it up with one simple phrase. "When we see Him we will be like Him."
The glorious body of Jesus will be the pattern for our own. The instant we see Him as He truly is, the transformation will have already begun. "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body," (Phil. 3:20). These are amazing revelations, yet though we can believe, we don't know what He will look like. We can relish and anticipate the promise, but is there anything else? Any "hints" or guidance that will help?
Paul's answer to a question posed by a brother in Corinth is very helpful. "Someone will say, How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" (1Cor. 15:35). We see within this question the heart of our dilemma. To learn something new requires we move from what we know into what we do not yet know. We do not yet know how the dead are raised and with what body they come. But a careful analysis of the "answer" shows they can only be parables. What exists in this world cannot be used to answer these questions. The resurrection "resembles" this creation in form, but not in substance.
The Third Day of Creation: Vegetation
The Holy Spirit begins our education with the third day of creation. "And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herbs yielding seed, (and) fruit‑trees bearing fruit after their kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth: (Gen. 1:11). Such a simple revelation. Just as the kingdom of heaven can be likened unto ... a sower, so the resurrection is likened unto ... the seed. First, we must recognize that the only reason we can understand the words in Genesis is because we have the results in front of our eyes day by day. As spring moves to summer and summer to fall, we see their meaning illustrated over and over again. We don't have that yet with the spiritual realities that are even more complex.
God created most plants to produce a seed. Whether grains, herbs, fruits or nuts, every seed reproduces after its kind. Each seed, each plant and its fruit is different, yet when planted in the ground all do exactly the same thing. As the moisture enters the seed, the process of corruption begins. As the seed begins to break down. It loses its previous body and its previous life. It dies and is then reborn in a new and often spectacularly different body.
- You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37 and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. I Cor 15:36-38
God created each seed with it's own body. Huge and small trees in many different colors and configurations produce multitudes of different things. Plants in every size, shape and color produce flowers, vegetables and colored leaves. God has already done what we are waiting for Him to do again. Our body resembles the seed. Our death resembles the seed decomposing. The resurrection resembles the new plant as it comes forth from the soil. Hence the spiritual life force of each man will burst forth from the material creation, becoming a new and glorious spiritual body. Again, we can understand the concept, but can't really visualize what will really happen.
The Fifth and Sixth days of Creation:
In the second part of the "parable," we come to the type of "flesh" our new body will possess. On the fifth day of creation God created fish and birds and on the sixth, beasts and men. Not only did each of these groups receive a different body to live in the new environment God had made, but also different flesh.
- All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. I Cor 15:39
The flesh and body of a man differs in many ways from those above. The body of man was designed to hold an eternal spirit created in the image and likeness of God. Such a body must possess a brain than can think, feel, imagine and remember. The eyes and ears are refined enough to read and hear language and our tongue is prepared to respond. Our bodies have been refined far above all the others to do all that God envisioned we would need to do.
God gave each a body fitted for its purpose and needs. In the same way at our resurrection, we will receive a body perfectly designed for our new home, new abilities and new needs just as God did in the first creation.
The Second, Third, and Fourth days of Creation
The living bodies on the earth are not enough to fully understand. To complete the parable, he spoke of the glory of the bodies created on the second, third, and fourth days of creation. God created a body for the earth, and entirely different bodies for the sun, the moon, and the stars.
- There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is 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. 1Cor. 15:40-41
The glory of the moon is reflecting the light from the sun, shadowed by the movement of the earth. Because it was not designed to be used for life, it is barren. The sun was designed to bring light and heat for the duration of the creation. God gave it a body that would allow it to burn at a steady rate necessary to sustain life on earth. Its light designed to break down all the colors on earth. Finally, each star was given its own body. While these bodies look similar with the naked eye, a telescope reveals the incredible difference of glory each one contains.
Conclusion. Our future is thus illustrated with these amazing parables. The parable of the seed, parable of the flesh, parable of the earth, the sun, the moon and the stars. With these parables, we can begin our journey into understanding how the dead are raised and with what manner of body they come. Like all parables there is a simple and easy to understand story. Then there are the complicated and amazing realities these parables reveal to our mind. So it is here. We must not be content only with the parable. In all our meditations we must seek for the deeper meanings they also reveal. Yet, we must be content that only when we see Him will the mystery be fully revealed.