1 Corinthians 15: 35 – 38, 42, 43
35But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’
36Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
37And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain.
38But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.
42So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.
43It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
Let’s face it, there is a very unhelpful view of death that is prevalent in Britain today. The vast majority of people seem to believe one of two things. Either you die and that’s it. There is no God so there can be no heaven. Or when you die there is a God and he welcomes you into some sort of ghostly place where your spirit form wafts about and all the things we used to enjoy on earth like cold water splashing our toes on the beach, or the taste of home made steak and kidney pie, or the smell of a ripe strawberry freshly picked, or even a comforting arm around the shoulders, are no longer available because spirits can’t touch or eat or feel or smell. Or even breathe. So are they really alive? Therefore death is a tragedy rather than anything else.
Paul is speaking of a view of death which has a huge impact on our view of life. He likens dying to the growth of new life from a grain of wheat. The wheat ear sheds its grain and dies but the grain of wheat has new life within it. Paul says, ‘so it is with the resurrection of the dead’. When we die, we gain a new body, different form the we have at the moment (just as well in my case) but still a very real body. We don’t know what it will be like, but we do know it will be real! And all because Jesus rose from the dead first and spearheaded the way for you and me!
That’s great for the future but it’s also great for the present. Death ceases to be a tragedy and starts being an opportunity! Those we love who have died are safe in the arms of Jesus with a new body and a new life and we can let them enjoy it and look forward to the day when we join them again.
It’s great for all sorts of other reasons as well but there is just one more that I want to stress. Because Jesus resurrection takes away our fear and uncertainty about the future it allows us to live in the present with greater security and less worry. Now is just a foretaste of what is to come. Spot the bits of life that are most meaningful and accept that they are just a small reflection of what life in the Kingdom of God is going to be like. And live life to the full! Rejoice on the Easter truth of New Life in Christ!
Here is the Collect for Easter Day
Lord of all life and power,
who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
overcame the old order of sin and death
to make all things new in him:
grant that we, being dead to sin
and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be praise and honour, glory and might,
now and in all eternity.
I hope you enjoy singing Led like a lamb to the laughter by Graham Kendrick