1 Corinthians 15:12-20

September 19, 2014

Saint Januarius, Bishop and Martyr

Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20)

A well-known pastor once delivered a sermon on death. He began with a story about Edgar Bergen, a famous ventriloquist. Bergen was at a train station one day when he spotted a coffin that some porters had laid down near the platform. He went over to the coffin, leaned over it, and asked, “Is everything all right in there?” As the porters watched, a voice seemed to come from inside, saying, “Let me out of here!” The porters ran off, scared stiff. The pastor finished the story by asking his congregation, “How will you escape from your coffin?”

At least some of the Corinthians that Paul was speaking to were not sure how to answer that question. Although they acknowledged that Christ had risen, they didn’t believe in bodily resurrection for everyone else. They may have believed that because of sin, their bodies couldn’t make it to heaven. Only their souls would rise. That idea didn’t bother them, but Paul couldn’t let this mistake go unanswered.

Why was it so important? Because the teaching about a bodily resurrection gets down to our identity in Christ. If the only part of us that matters is spiritual, then Jesus’ incarnation was meaningless, and his resurrection in a glorified body was unnecessary. A human person is both flesh and spirit. We are whole only when we are made whole in Christ, body and soul. We are not ghosts in boxes. Our laughter, our sight, our hearing, our sense of touch, our movements are all meant to be taken up into Christ, who came “to reconcile all things” to himself (Colossians 1:20).

As you reflect on this truth, think of the totality of God’s love for you. He didn’t come just to forgive your sins, incredibly generous though this gift is. He came to bring you to a new life with him. All of you! He wants to glorify you, spirit, soul, and body. He wants to transform you from the inside out. So glorify the Lord for this awesome truth. Spend some time praising the God who loves you more than you could ever conceive—the One who has defeated death itself!

“Lord, thank you for the gift of my body. May I always treat it with the respect and dignity it deserves.”

Psalm 17:1, 6-8, 15; Luke 8:1-3