Do you believe in the resurrection? Think about that for a moment before you answer. Do you believe that once we die, once Jesus died, then we will, Jesus did, rise from the dead? What is more, our creed tells us that we believe in a physical resurrection. Again, think about the details and what exactly that means. In this chapter we have the most thorough description of the resurrection of the dead that we will find in any other place in the Bible. Not only do we find a thorough description of the physical resurrection, but also the theology that supports it. Let’s start with that because that is where Paul starts.
The importance of belief in the resurrection cannot be overstated. Look at vs. 14 that tell us that if we do not believe in the resurrection of the body that our faith is “in vain”. There is no reason, Paul says, to even believe, there is no reason to count ourselves as a disciple of Jesus Christ if we do not believe in the resurrection. Easter is real, it is not just a holiday that marks our Christian belief, but we are actually celebrating Jesus’ resurrection. What impact does his resurrection have upon us? Look at vs. 17 – it is in the resurrection where our sins are forgiven. This is what it is all about. If Christ has not been raised then we are still in our sins. What more needs to be said about our faith? The death of Jesus was a one time victory for Satan. The resurrection of Jesus is an eternal victory for all of us because in that victory God eliminated the power of sin over us. This is called a theory of atonement. Break that word down: at one ment. What God did for us on the cross, in the grave, in the empty grave made us at one with Him. We are his children, we are his heirs, we are his bride. This is what the resurrection allows for us.
We then have details about our own resurrection which serve as incredibly useful verses for consolation and hope for those of us who want to understand what is it going to look like. When Stacy’s mom was ill with cancer we prayed that she would be healed. We were convinced that our prayers would be answered and that she would be healed and be able to enjoy a long life with us and her grandchildren. It didn’t happen. We were devastated that our prayers weren’t answered and as we made our way back to the West Coast for the funeral we were visibly upset. Rachel, our oldest who was about 4 then, noticed that we were sad because God hadn’t answered our prayers and she started to ask us questions. “Can nonna (that is the name we gave her) walk now?”, we answered “Yes, nonna can walk now, she can even run again.” Rachel asked “Can nonna eat anything she wants now?”, we answered “Yes, she can eat anything she wants to now.” “Is she happy?” she wondered out loud, “Yes she is happier than she has ever been.” Rachel then got a look of understanding on her face and said to two Princeton Seminary graduates “Well, it sounds like God did answer our prayers.” She taught us more about the resurrection in that one exchange than we had ever learned in our three years in seminary. Yes, the resurrection, the bodily resurrection, is real.
Paul tells us that we will all receive glorified bodies, bodies that are not corruptible, bodies that will never fail. This is the promise of the resurrection. We will not inherit our frail, broken, disease ridden bodies, but rather he will give us new bodies. This is why we do not hesitate to cremate. We do not fear the destruction of our physical bodies because we know that God has something far better in store for us.