Some friends were hanging out one day, and the conversation grimly turned to the issue of death. One of the friends asked the others, “What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?”
One friend answered, “I would want people to say, ‘He was a great humanitarian who cared about his community.'”
A second replied, “I would want people to say, ‘He was a great husband and father, an example for many to follow.'”
The third friend gave it some thought and answered, “I would hope someone says, ‘Look, he’s moving!'”
Do you get tired, worn out? Our bodies can only do so much, go so far. Our bodies are wearing out every day.
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
In his book The Body: A Guide for Occupants, Bill Bryson takes readers on a head-to-toe tour of the marvel that is the human anatomy. Starting from the outside and moving in, Bryson describes the largest organ of the human body, the skin:
The skin consists of an inner layer called the dermis and an outer epidermis. The outermost surface of the epidermis is made up entirely of dead cells. It is an arresting thought that all that makes you lovely is deceased. Where body meets air, we are all cadavers.
He then concludes:
These outer skin cells are replaced every month. We shed skin copiously, almost carelessly: some twenty-five thousand flakes a minute, over a million pieces every hour. Run a finger along a dusty shelf, and you are in large part clearing a path through fragments of your former self. Silently and remorselessly we turn to dust.
Kind of gross to think about. But let me tell you, there is an answer to that, and it’s not more moisturizer! It is found in 1 Corinthians 15:51-57:
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Great hope. Notice all the “wills.” This is a sure certainty.
Resurrection means we will be changed in a moment. It’s not just a change of clothes, it’s a change of you.
Not of view, but of you! So does your physical body matter? Yes! Take care of your body!
The perishable will put on imperishable. Principle: Our resurrected bodies will be perfect, not subject to death, disease, or weakness.
Our bodies now are wasting away because of the effects of sin. Hard living. It can age you fast!
People want to know, when do I get this new body?
What will my new body be like? I want my body to look like Duane Johnson! How will this happen?
We go to be with Jesus the moment we die. If you’ve had a friend or a loved one who has died as a believer, they immediately go to be with Jesus.
To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
Jesus said to the thief on the cross, today, you will be with me in paradise.
Our soul goes to be with Jesus but our bodies are left here. What happens to our body? When Mary went to the tomb, there was no body there. It was changed and resurrected.
When do our bodies get changed? People were asking thew question: “But what if Christ comes back before I die? If I haven’t died, how can I be raised in a heavenly body and thereby inherit the kingdom of God?”
Paul assured his brothers and sisters that they would not all sleep (another world for dying), but they would all be changed. Like the nursery at church on Sunday, “They will not all sleep, but they will all be changed!” Paul says it will happen in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, How long exactly is the twinkling of an eye? You know when you’re sitting in traffic at the light, and the light changes, and immediately the car behind you honks, that’s’ how much time a twinkling of an eye is!
Paul tells us it is at the trumpet sound. In the Old Testament, the trumpet was used to sound the commands in battle, like calls to assemble for war or to attack (Josh. 6:4–5; Jer. 4:19). Paul talked about this idea of the trumpet in 14:8. The trumpet also announced the anointing of kings (1 Kgs. 1:34, 39), and the coming of the Lord (Exod. 19:16, 19). All of these come together in the idea of the day of the Lord that Paul had mentioned earlier in this letter. On the day of the Lord, God will come to earth as a conquering warrior king, saving his people and defeating all his enemies. In fact, the prophets said a lot about a trumpet in connection with the day of the Lord (Joel 2:1; Zech. 9:14), and Oaul used the trumpet sound in 1 Thess. 4:16, talking about the day when Jesus returns.
On that day, in that moment, our physical bodies are resurrected to join with our spirit in the air. And if you’re still alive at that moment, you are given your resurrected body. And we will be in the presence of the Lord in our resurrected body.
1 Thessalonians 5 talks about this same truth. Your body won’t be thrown out, it will be raised. And we are guaranteed of that because of the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus showed his power over death.
When someone dies that we love, we grieve because we will be separated from them for a while, but we aren’t grieving for their body, because that body will be resurrected. It’s like a seed that goes into the ground that one day will be resurrected for eternity.
Death is real, but it is defeated. It is swallowed up in victory. The stinger is gone.
A boy and his father were driving down a country road on a beautiful spring afternoon, when a bumblebee flew in the car window. The little boy, who was allergic to bee stings, was petrified. The father quickly reached out, grabbed the bee, squeezed it in his hand, and then released it. The boy grew frantic as it buzzed by him. Once again the father reached out his hand, but this time he pointed to his palm. There stuck in his skin was the stinger of the bee. “Do you see this?” he asked. “You don’t need to be afraid anymore. I’ve taken the sting for you.” We do not need to fear death anymore. Christ has died and risen again. He has taken the sting from death.
When you think about someone who has died who you love, and you grieve because you miss them that’s good. But if you grieve because you think that somehow they are not going to be with Jesus in the presence of God, these verses remind us not to doubt it.
Think about the worst thing in life. It’s death! The ultimate enemy. People are terrified of death. That’s what this whole pandemic is about. Trying to keep from dying/
But check it out. Death is defeated! We don’t “grieve like those who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13. Funerals really can be a celebration. THey should be hope filled. And we should tell people why we have this hope. Because Jesus has victory over death.
If you’re thinking, I know Jesus, but I wonder what will happen to me when I die, Can Jesus really do it! Yes, He proved it!
He’s done it before, He will do it again for you in your life.
What does it mean for us that the sting is gone and the power of death is broken?
Paul tells us what it means in verse 58:
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
That’s what he’s been saying in this whole chapter. The future hope of resurrection isn’t just wishful thinking. It matters to the way we live each and every day.
The ones who were just accepting the false teaching in the church were just being lazy. They didn’t want to do the hard work. They were too worried about what people thought about them, and what people might say about them. So they were ashamed about believing and trusting in the truth about the resurrection.
They were afraid of serving God. And what consequences they might face for standing up for the gospel.
Paul said, “Don’t be afraid.”
And he said because you know the truth of the resurrection, here are three simple things you can do. Here’s how to live in light of the resurrection:
Let nothing move you. The truth of the resurrection changes you from a fearful doubtful person to a confident follower of Jesus. When you find someone you can count on as a believer, it’s because of the truth of the resurrection. We stand firm on the truth. You can’t stand firm on human wisdom and philosophy. You can’t stand firm on something that is shaky and that won’t last. You need something solid.
Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord.
The resurrection gives your life direction. You don’t wonder what you should do. You have a purpose. It gives you energy and motivation. We all struggle with that. Yes, exercise and diet are good, but they’re not enough. You need a big WHY. ALWAYS and FULLY. It’s complete surrender to God’s purpose for your life. Labor is exhausting, hard work, wears you out. But it’s worth it to use our bodies now for what is greater to come!
Know your work isn’t wasted.
The resurrection changes things. It changes us from frustrated workers to excited servants of God. To move from having nothing to look forward to, to looking forward to the future. The work you do has an eternal lasting difference in people’s lives. Not just temporary. But for eternity. Your work isn’t wasted.
There is a reward: a new body. Eternal life in the presence of Jesus! It is worth it all!
One day, you will meet someone in heaven who says, thank you for serving. You made a difference for me. You did the hard thing. You told the truth. You didn’t want to live it out, but the truth of the resurrection led you to live it out.