42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 1 Corinthians 15:42 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
I would venture to say that most people don’t like to think or talk about the subject of death and dying. I’m a little less squeamish about the subject than the average person. Because of this, I was a bit worried several years ago that I was some sort of morbid person and asked one of my elders for his take on the situation. He said, “John, I don’t think you’re a morbid person at all. I’m a mechanic, and I think about cars. And you’re the one who does all the funerals for everybody, so that’s probably why you think about death. You really don’t have any choice.” That sounds reasonable enough for me.
But beyond my occupational familiarity with the topic, there’s another reason for my relative comfort with the subject. I believe in the resurrection of the body. I really, really do. We don’t customarily recite the Apostles’ Creed at our church, but I love the Creed nonetheless. And I especially love this line from the Creed: “I believe in the resurrection of the body.”
The Apostle Paul does a great job explaining what the resurrection of the body is like. He writes that it’s like a seed that yields a crop. What you harvest is not the exact thing you planted, but the two things are connected. For instance, you plant a tiny watermelon seed, and you harvest a giant watermelon that many people can eat and enjoy. The watermelon is much better than the tiny seed. In the same way, we plant an inferior seed — the lifeless physical body. Then on Resurrection Day (which is our harvest), we receive something indescribably wonderful. We receive a glorified, spiritual body that will never die again. We receive the same sort of body that the Lord Jesus had when He conquered death.
To me, St. Paul seems to be kind of hung-up on the fact that we’re going to receive a resurrection body on the last day. He writes about it all the time in his epistles and at great length. I think this is because he wanted a new body very badly. He had been beaten so many times as a servant of Christ that I imagine he was very arthritic as he got older. He was stoned and left for dead — but then got up and went on his way. Paul was longing for a new body, free from infirmity and pain. I can empathize with him. I’m looking forward to my new body, too.
Now, I have a particular belief about the resurrection of the body. No matter what happens to your body after you die, the Lord is going to be able to get it back together so He can transform it. Even if your dust and ashes accidentally wind up at Waffle House and are scattered, smothered, covered, chunked, diced, and topped, He will get you back together and raise you to eternal life. It’s really the most wonderful sort of miracle.
I’ll never forget a conversation that Seth and I had about the resurrection of the body when he was in grade school.
(A side note: Seth has never been a very big talker. Some folks are just born like that. But I remember a lot of things Seth has said over the years because, if he does take the time to say something, it’s usually pretty good. Like when he was 4-years-old, we all went to the zoo in New Orleans on the hottest day of the year. As you can imagine, all of the mammals were nearly comatose from the heat. When someone at church asked Seth how he liked the zoo, he answered very slowly and with great thought: “It was hot. All of the animals…..[long pause]….were dead.”)
But I digress. As I spoke with young Seth, it became clear that he had many of the same ideas about the resurrection as what I believe. We were watching a show about new funeral customs. The host was showing how it was now possible to take the ashes of a loved one and have them made into a gemstone that can be worn. I asked Seth if he thought this was a good idea to do something like this.
I was delighted with his answer. He said, “Oh no, not at all. It would be my luck that my wife would take my ashes and make a diamond out of me. Then she would put the diamond on a ring and wear me on her finger. Then the Lord Jesus would come back to earth. When I got my new body, I would break her arm!”
I’m with Seth on this one. I’d rather live life as “a jewel” now to the folks around me than to have somebody wear me as one later! This week, let’s rejoice and be busy doing God’s good work, as we look forward to our new bodies and the joy that is yet to come. 🙂
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 26 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he works at a public school.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 20) and Seth (age 17) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where nobody has been made into a gemstone just yet.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.