Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different.
You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form. You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre-resurrection “seeds”—who can imagine what the resurrection “plants” will be like!
This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality!
We follow this sequence in Scripture: The First Adam received life, the Last Adam is a life-giving Spirit. Physical life comes first, then spiritual—a firm base shaped from the earth, a final completion coming out of heaven. The First Man was made out of earth, and people since then are earthy; the Second Man was made out of heaven, and people now can be heavenly. In the same way that we’ve worked from our earthy origins, let’s embrace our heavenly ends. 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 MSG
In my backyard I have an area committed to feeding “my” outdoor wildlife. Each morning I check the bird feeders, put fresh water in the birdbath, and scatter birdseed for the ground feeders and in-the-shell peanuts for the squirrels. As the weather gets cooler, the population increases. This morning there were 11 squirrels and 10 crows having breakfast in the area. The smaller birds usually show up later.
Each summer, some of the seeds sprout and sunflowers appear in several places, and peanut plants show up in some planters where squirrels have buried them. I know what the dead seed looked like, and I rejoice to see the live plants even though I didn’t intentionally plant them.
Paul tried to explain via diverse ‘parallels’ and ‘sketches’ what takes place when a dead human body becomes a resurrected body. For those of us who haven’t seen the resurrected Jesus, it is hard to imagine what it will be like. Paul concedes that what he wrote is only an approach to the mystery and that we need to keep in mind that we will then be alive forever.
For me, I cling to what Jesus said that is recorded in John 14, as well as John’s reminder in 1 John 3. I’ll be praying for you this week as you read the scriptures and devotionals and wrestle with the mystery of resurrection.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where I am.” John 14:1-3 NIV
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know when Christ appears, we all be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2 NIV