Best of Daily Reflections: What Will My Body Be Like in the Resurrection?
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
To the Christians in Corinth, the idea of resurrection from the dead seemed strange indeed. They were no doubt comfortable with the notion of immortality, in which the souls or spirits of human beings survived death. But the thought of bodies coming back from the dead did not fit their assumptions about the world or the afterlife. So, after affirming that the resurrection of Jesus not only happened, but also was the first of many resurrections yet to come, the Apostle Paul sought to answer a question that the Corinthians surely wished to ask: "How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?" (15:35).
Paul's answer uses the analogy of a seed, which dies and then is planted in the ground. What grows from this seed is something quite different from the seed itself. Similarly, when a body is "planted" in the ground in burial, what is raised is not that same body, but something both connected to the original body and startlingly new. "Our bodies are buried in brokenness," Paul explains, "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" (15:43-44a). This can sound pretty strange if we think of spiritual things as non-physical. But Paul's point is that the bodies we will possess after resurrection will be like our physical bodies, yet also different in many ways.
The resurrected body of Jesus provides some clues as the nature of our spiritual, resurrected bodies. After his resurrection, Jesus' body had physical reality. He could eat food and be touched. Yet his body also had the ability to pass through walls or disappear. It was a real body, yet unlike any body we have ever seen or known.
Even with Paul's explanation and the example of Jesus, there is much about resurrected bodies that we won't understand in this life. But one thing is clear: after death, your essential self will be preserved, even as your body is transformed. When Jesus appeared to his disciples in his resurrected body, he was still Jesus. His disciples recognized him and knew him. Thus, by implication, when we are raised from the dead, we will be our true selves, yet in a more vigorous and glorious form.
What is the bottom line? Your identity matters. Who you really are in Christ will last forever. Who you are matters to God. This not only gives hope for the future, but it also gives meaning for our existence in this life, which is a foretaste of that which is to come.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How do you envision a resurrected body? What difference does it make if our hope for the future involves resurrection, rather than immaterial spiritual existence?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I must confess that this talk of resurrection can feel rather strange and foreign. There are so many questions that remain unanswered, so much that I can't quite understand.
Yet I thank you for the truth of the resurrection, for the fact that my body will someday be transformed into something more glorious and strong. Indeed, as my own body gets older, and therefore less glorious and strong, this hope matters more to me then it did when I was twenty. How grateful I am, Lord, that who I am matters and will be preserved even beyond death.
The more I reflect on this truth, the more I find myself wanting to honor my body, such as it is, and to use it for your purposes and glory even now. May I offer my life to you each day as a living sacrifice.
I pray in the name of Jesus, the firstfruits of the resurrection. Amen.