“Word for Today” – 1 Corinthians 15 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

February 24, 2009 at 10:06 pm Leave a comment

Like many guys, I am not very adept at multi-tasking.  For example, if Melody and I are sitting in bed one evening and she is one the phone while I am reading, I will often get to the bottom of a page and realize that I have no idea what I have just read.  Why?  Because I was too busy paying attention to her conversation and not to what I was reading.  And I can’t do two things at once.  Or, let’s say Melody is trying to have a conversation with me while I am watching TV.  Often, after she realizes that my mind is drifting away from her and toward what’s on TV, she’ll say in her best frustrated tone, “Zach, stay with me!”  To which I will reply, “I am with you.”  “Yes,” Melody will say, “but you’re not ALL THERE with me.  Your face may be looking at me, but your mind is thinking about what’s on TV.”

Last month, sorrowfully, my wife’s grandmother passed away.  And, just like in most instances of bereavement, the night before the funeral there was a visitation with an open casket.  So I went along with my wife and my two nephews, Noah and Nicholas.  Noah, as a six year old, was having a hard time understanding what he was seeing.  He would walk over to “Gi Gi” (that’s what he calls Melody’s grandmother) and he would stare into the casket, and then he would come back and ask me, “Uncle Zach, when is Gi Gi going to wake up?”  To which I would have to somberly and sadly reply, “She’s not going to wake up, Noah.  She’s died and gone to heaven.”  And it was then that Noah asked probably the most insightful question I have ever received from a six year old:  “How can Gi Gi be in heaven when her body’s in the casket?”

That, actually, is a really good question.  And it’s one that far too many adults fail to ask.  The teaching of Scripture is indeed clear:  those who die in Christ live with him in heaven.  The words of Jesus to the thief on the cross right before he dies, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43) leave no doubt about the precious hope of heaven that awaits us immediately upon our deaths.  But it is not our bodies that ascend to heaven after we die, it is our souls.  That is why, when John has his vision of heaven in Revelation, he sees not people’s bodies, but their souls in heaven (e.g., Revelation 6:9).  And yet, God would say along with my wife, “You may get to be with me when you die, but you’re not ALL THERE with me.  Your soul may be with me, but your body is still buried in the ground.”  But one day, that will change.

“Listen, I tell you a mystery:  We will not all sleep. But we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).  In our reading for today from 1 Corinthians 15, Paul talks about the resurrection that will take place on the Last Day, not of our souls, but of our bodies.  When Jesus returns, Scripture teaches, our bodies and souls will once again be reunited with each other and we will be “all there” with Jesus.  And six year old boys will no longer be confused.

You see, my friends, this is the ultimate hope of the Christian according to Scripture.  Not just that when we die our souls get to go to heaven to be with Jesus, but that on the Last Day, Jesus will come and resurrect our bodies and we will live “all there” with Jesus.  And so, we confess in the words of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in the resurrection of the BODY and the life everlasting.”  I’ll most definitely offer a hearty “Amen” to that.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – 1 Corinthians 16 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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