OUR RESURRECTION BODIES
- Pastor Mark Driscoll
- 1 Corinthians 15:35-58
- April 09, 2006
God, we thank you. We thank you that this life is not all there is, and that this body is not all that there is, and that this world is not all that there is; that there is another kingdom coming; that there is a new creation; that there is going to be for us a new body with which to enter into that new kingdom and that new creation. And God, some of us are here today, we’re sick, and we’ve got the flu. Some of us are just achy. Some of us have real serious illnesses. For some of us, we have recently buried those that we love. For some of us, our own death is constantly on our mind.
God, as we study today, may you take the hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and impart that into our hearts and minds, so that we might be a people living in the midst of encouragement in the future. And God may that transform how we live, here and now, today. For that to happen, we ask that you send the Holy Spirit to apply the Scriptures to our lives so that we might have the hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Well, as we get into it today we’re looking at the resurrection of Jesus, and what we’re learning is that Jesus’ resurrection is prototypical for us. Those of us who love and trust in Jesus, one day we will die, and we will rise, and we’ll get a glorified, eternal, supernatural body like Jesus. And doesn’t that sound good? How many of you, right here today, honestly, if you could, you would trade in your body right now for a new one? You would do it, right? How many of you are sick? I’m sick – I’ve got the flu. I’ve been blowing out green stuff all week. I’m sweating like Mike Tyson in a spelling bee. My breath just about knocks me out. It’s a good thing I’m not close to you.
I just feel horrible. I’m achy, I’m all hopped up on cold meds and antihistamines, and I’ve learned how to medicate myself on Sundays to get through anything. But it’s just horrible. Don’t you just hate getting sick? How many of you are chronically sick? How many of you have the trick knee from high school; you’re chronically ill? How many of you recently got a sleeping injury? You woke up, and you’re all achy? You’re like, “How in the heck – what kind of shape am I in when I injure myself sleeping?” What kind of nonsense is that, you know? I mean our bodies, just they don’t work well. Some of them don’t look good, right?
Ladies have full-length mirrors because they torment themselves. Dudes don’t have any mirrors; it’s just a form of denial. We just wear sweats with a waistband – get their money’s worth, use all the elastic. I don’t care. You know, but a lot of you dudes – some of you dudes, it’s weird too, like the body doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.
The body, too, it doesn’t work, right? It gets sick, it gets achy, it’s real fragile, you know? You eat the wrong thing – you go to Mexico, eat the fish – uh-oh! You know? Just the body doesn’t work the way that it was intended to, so we spend so much of our life just working on our body, trying to have our health. Going to our naturopath, working on our diet, exercise, taking medication if we get sick – then next thing you know, we’re on antibiotics. And next thing you know, we get really sick. We need to be hospitalized. We need surgery. We get cancer. We go in for chemotherapy. We’re frustrated with our body and its appearance, so we go in for plastic surgery. We want to get this body together, and it never does really come together.
Paul told his church that one day they would resurrect from death, and they’d get a brand new body. Well, this excited them – like I hope and pray it would excite you – and with that, he then seeks to answer two large questions that they raise. As soon as he says, “You’re gonna get a new body,” they’re like, “Well, we got a lot of questions,” just as I’m sure many of you do. And those questions are outlined in 1 Corinthians 15:35, and he says it this way: “But someone may ask, ‘How are the dead raised?’” – first question; secondarily – “With what kind of body will they come?” So his first question we’ll deal with, what will our glorified body be like? If we’re gonna die and rise like Jesus rose, and we’re gonna get a new body like Jesus, what’s that body gonna be like?
Second question is: when do we receive it? How do we receive it? When’s this all gonna happen, and how’s this all going to happen? So following Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we’ll answer those two questions. The first one: what will our glorified body be like, right? How many of you ever thought, “Okay, if I rise from death, what will it be like?” Me, I’m hoping I’m this tall, to be honest with you. I’m short, but standing on the stage, this is about where I hope to be when it’s all said and done, you know? “Oh little people, how is it?” And some of you probably wonder, “When I have a resurrected body, will I be attractive? Will the cellulite be gone?
Verse 36 – and I’m gonna clear my nose and my throat a lot; all just illustrations that here’s the truth: God made the world good. God made us very good. Sin came into the world because of us and our first parents. Romans 8 says that now everything is under the curse. That includes our physical bodies. Nothing works the way that it’s supposed to, so sickness and pain and injury and the frailty of the human condition – and in the inevitable death of us all – is all the result of sin and the curse. The question is how are we gonna get around that? And the answer is the resurrection of Jesus.
Well, if Jesus is gonna get me around death and give me a resurrected body that doesn’t have sickness, that doesn’t have disease, that doesn’t have infirmity or ailment or death, how is this gonna happen and what will this be like? Verse 36 says: “How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body” – I swear to you, I didn’t try to get the flu this week, but it is what it is – “as he determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. All flesh is not the same” – physical body.
“Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another, and the starts another, and star differs from star in splendor.” Here’s what he says: you may look into the Bible and see that God promises a resurrection from death and a new, eternal, glorified body in his kingdom for his children, and you say, “How is that gonna work?” Paul says, “Let me tell you an analogy.” All right, how many of you remember when you were a little kid the first time you planted a seed, right?
Your mom, dad, grandpa, grandma gave you a seed. Your teacher gave you a seed. You know, somebody gave you a seed and said, “Put that in the ground,” And you said, “Why? That’s not gonna do anything.” And they said, “No, it will. You put it in the ground, and it’ll die. You bury it in the dirt, it’ll die. And then it’ll rise, and you’ll get a plant or a tree or a vegetable, or you get something unbelievable and glorious and good that you would’ve never expected would come from just a simple, unattractive, unassuming seed.” Paul says, “So it is. So it is with our body.” We’re sick. We’re under the curse. We have infirmity. We’re frail. Eventually we die. We’re put in the ground; buried; the dirt goes on us.
And then one day – with Jesus – we will rise – like Jesus. We’ll get out of our graves. Glorified new body – far more extravagant, wonderful, glorious and good than we could’ve asked for, hoped or imagined. That’s what he says it will be like. And then someone obviously asked, “Well, how could God do this? I mean what about like our Aunt Sally – we cremated her, right? And she was spread all over the sea. If she gets resurrected, and she’s all scattered, how’s that gonna work?
And all these questions. What about the people that were burned up, or what about the people that were blown up, or what about these people that their body wasted away and decayed, and it was just destroyed. And now they’re in the grave, and all their flesh is gone because they’ve been there forever – what happens to them? Here’s what he says: If God can make the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, out of nothing –
Hebrews 11 teaches if God can make stars and plants and animals and fish – if God could make the first man out of the dust of the earth – if God could make the first woman out of the rib of the man, then God can make a body for us. Amen? If God can make everything, then God can make me a body. He just can. That’s what he says. He says God’s made everything; God’ll take care of you and I. God will make our body too. He doesn’t give us all the details; he just tells us to trust God. God made everything. God can make you a new body. It’s not a complicated scenario for the all-wise, all-good, all-powerful hand of God.
He then moves on – verse 42: “So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown perishable is raised imperishable.” Meaning the body we’re in now, it’s frail. It gets sick. It gets injured. And it dies. It’ll be raised imperishable. It won’t get sick. It won’t get injured. And it won’t die – won’t that be a great day? “It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory;” we’ll deal with that in a minute. There’s a lot of comedy to be mined out of that. “It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.” How many of you feel weak, physically? You wake up, you say, “Man, I just don’t have the strength I once did. I just don’t feel real strong. I had my four shots of espresso, and it still is not doing the trick.
“I just don’t have the energy level that I once did. I feel weak. I feel like I’m falling apart. I feel like I’m unwinding, and I’m not as strong as I once was.” He says the resurrection body won’t be weak; it will be strong. “It is raised in power. It is sown a natural body,” right? Just a normal physical body – frail – elsewhere called a jar of clay. Just real fragile – “it is raised a spiritual body” – supernatural; not prone to sickness, death, the effects of the curse. “If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” Here’s what he’s saying: we’re born in a body that is subject to death and decay and destruction. And because of that, life is painful. Life is hard.
Some of you struggle with chronic pain, chronic illness, chronic disease. Some of you have already lost those that you love. Some of you fear you’ll be losing them soon. Some of you, your own death is very imminent. All of which is an indication that this body is perishable, it’s weak, it’s frail, it’s falling apart. Sin and the curse and death are winning. And we like Jesus – if we trust in him, we’ll die, but we will be risen like him in a supernatural body that doesn’t get sick, that doesn’t get injured, that doesn’t die. Won’t that be a great day when there won’t be doctors? So much of our life is about how to get the best medical coverage. In the Kingdom there won’t be medical coverage, because there won’t be sickness and the curse, right?
So much of our world is about how to get people clean drinking water, and to get them proper medication when they’re sick, and trying to deal with all of the infirmities, particularly those who are elderly and dying and sick. What he says is that the new body won’t need doctors. It won’t need naturopaths. We love doctors and naturopaths, and we love nutritionists, and we love those who do health for the body; those who are personal trainers and those who do physical rehabilitation. And we love surgeons and we love those who work in pharmacies. And we love all of those people, but we long for the day when we don’t need any of them – when everybody’s healthy.
The water is clean. The air is pure. The food is pure. The body functions. Sickness, the curse, death, disease is no longer present. Paul says that will be the case of the resurrected body. You won’t have anything in your medicine cabinet. You’ll never see a wheelchair again. Nobody will ever need crutches, and the doctors will just be on vacation forever. He says that’s the day that we’re longing for, when we have this imperishable immortal body.
Now, there is something humorous, I believe, in this as well, and that is he says that our body is sown in dishonor. Now, how many of you have found your body to have some dishonorable functions, amen?
And there’s dishonorable things about the body, right – like oh, do any of you have a lot of ear wax, for example? Put a Q-Tip in, take it out – “That’s a candle! Look at all that wax! I could put a wick in that and sell that on eBay. That is a lot of wax right there.” How many of you have stinky feet – really stinky feet? How many of you have those huge yellow toenails that you can only trim with a router? (Tool noises) Why do you wear sandals? What’s wrong with you?
Some of you are married to those people – they climb into bed, kick you and you’ve got like an open wound. You’ve gotta go in for stitches. What the heck – dishonorable body, right? Some of you are sweaters – some of you are stinky breathers, right? Some of you are. Some of you are bald. Some of you dudes have back hair that’s unbelievable, you know. And this is the way that it is, right? Our body – how many of you – literally, right – you’ve been drinking milk like my kids, and you go to cough, and you don’t, so you blow it out your nose? The body does dishonorable things. For some of you, this is why you don’t want a roommate, right? You’re like, “I’ll live on my own. I don’t want to see them in that condition. I don’t want to be in that condition.”
The body has a lot of things that are dishonorable and sort of embarrassing. You’re like, “Golly, I’m not really proud of that about my body.” He says the resurrection body will be honorable; it won’t have all these dysfunctions and quirks and leaks and issues that the present body does – amen? I’ll keep moving on. So one wife who has the stinky, hairy, big-toenailed husband, she’s like, “Heaven – I can’t wait for that day!” And what he’s saying is that essentially we are two parts – we are body and soul. We are body and soul, and that just because our body dies doesn’t mean our soul ceases to exist.
That’s why Paul says in 2 Corinthians, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” So our immaterial soul is housed in our material body. When our material body dies and goes into the ground, our immaterial soul goes to be with the Lord. And then one day, our immaterial soul is reunited with our material body. We resurrect like Jesus and live forever, body and soul completely united in perfect, harmonious, sinless state, without curse, without death, without sickness, without injury, without frailty – without the things that we struggle with today. And so in some ways, it’s like going clothes shopping is how I see the resurrection, right? You’ve got your body; you put clothes on it. You got your soul; you put the clothing of the new body on it.
That’s the way that it is. So for all women, think of resurrection as shopping, and that is the metaphor that I would give to you all. So then he moves forward in verse 45: “So it is written” – he quotes Genesis 2:7 – “The first man Adam became a living being” – so he goes back to the first human being to get a body, our father Adam. “The last Adam” – that will be Jesus – “a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth.” God made Adam from the dust of the earth, the Bible says. “The second man from Heaven” – that’s Jesus – eternal God came down from Heaven.
“As there was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth, and is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” Here’s what he says: we’re all born with a body that is under the curse – frail, sick, dying all the time – as sons and daughters of Adam, because of sin. This doesn’t mean that God made our body this way. It says in Genesis, God made the world good. God made our bodies very good. And then all the evil and bad that has come in the world is the result of sin; sin that you and I and Satan have participated in together, destroying what the Bible calls God’s good Shalom – his perfect state of harmony and goodness and live and love and joy.
That we’ve marred all of God’s good creation; we have made crooked all that God intended to be straight. And what he’s saying is that we are born in this body under the curse as part of what Romans 8 calls the cursed world that strains under the effects of sin. Our body is counted in that, and we have bodies that are frail and falling apart. But conversely to Adam, there is Jesus, our eternal God, who came down from Heaven. He took upon himself a human body. He lived as a human being. Luke 2:42 says he grew as a human being. That Jesus went through all of the same issues that we do. He would’ve gotten sick. He would’ve gotten injured. He would’ve fell out of a tree when he was climbing as a little boy. He would’ve sprained his ankle, just like every other kid.
Jesus got hungry. Jesus got thirsty. Jesus was betrayed by his friends. Jesus suffered by crucifixion – a painful, excruciating, horrifying death – feeling all of the same discomforts and pains that you and I would’ve felt had we went through that same thing. Jesus then died. He tasted death most certainly. He was buried, and three days later, he rose. He rose. And what he is saying is that through Jesus, there is victory over sin. There is victory over the curse. There is victory over illness and injury and frailty for those who trust in him, because he alone is the one who has come to undo all that has been lost with the first Adam.
And so as we’re born to follow in the pattern of Adam, the pattern of sin and sickness and death, we’re born again to follow in the pattern of Jesus, the pattern of forgiveness, life, and eternity with God in a resurrected, glorified body. Now, this brings up an issue that I’ll hit on briefly theologically. In Isaiah 53:5 it says, “By his stripes” – Jesus’ stripes; by Jesus’ suffering and death – “we are healed.” Now, there is a great misuse of that text. Let me insert a little theological instruction at this point.
Those guys will tell you that if you are a Christian, Jesus died to heal you. So you should not ever get sick. You should never get hurt. You should not have any illness or infirmity, because if you have enough faith you can claim for yourself healing, and no child of God who has sufficient faith should ever be sick. Which is a cruel, excruciatingly cruel, thing to tell people with cancer, people who have injuries, people who have chronic health problems – it’s a cruel thing to tell people. And the question is: but are we healed by his stripes? And the issue is most certainly yes, that some of you in this life will experience the healing hand of God. I’ve seen it. I believe in it. It’s true.
But even if you experience the healing hand of God, we will all still experience what – death. Eventually we will all die. So where is the healing? Where is the ultimate, eternal, ongoing healing? Well, it is in the resurrected body, in the eternal state. I do believe – I believe most certainly that every child of God who trusts in Jesus has their sins forgiven. We’ll get a resurrected, glorified body, and at that moment, we’ll declare, “By his stripes, we have been healed.” That those of you who are sick, will not be sick. Those of you who are weak, will not be weak. Those of you who have illness, will not have illness. Those of you who have been injured, will not be injured.
Those of you who have friends and loved ones in wheelchairs; those of you who have friends and loved ones with debilitating illness – they’re bedridden; those who are constantly in pain; those who have to just medicate to endure the harshness that comes upon their body – those people will experience full, complete, total, eternal healing. It says that we will all run, we will all laugh, in the Kingdom, and that God will wipe every tear from our eye, and sickness and evil and injustice and harsh treatment of the body will no longer be, because the curse will be lifted and the body will be healed.
So we believe most certainly in the full, total, complete healing, miraculously, of all of God’s children, but most of us, that will not occur until we get the resurrection body. And even those of us who would experience a healing in this life, we still will get sick, and we still will die. It’s not a full and complete healing until the end of time. And he says that that is all made possible by Jesus, who came down from Heaven to live without sin, to die as a substitute for sin, to rise in conquest over victory over sin and death and the curse and the evil that causes the world to be such a broken and fragile place – including our own bodies.
And our new body will be immortal. It’ll live forever. Won’t you be happy to never have to go to a funeral again? Won’t you be happy not to have to worry about the death of a loved one or yourself? That immortal body will live forever; it won’t die. And it’s curious, because there’s something in us that just wants to live forever, is there not? I mean so much of our life is trying to prolong our life, but nonetheless, we all die. And I was thinking about it. Sometimes our cultural stories and our myths and our fables and our folklores teach something about our deepest longing. Our deepest longing is to have new bodies. I was thinking about it. This is usually what happens with our comic book superheroes.
There’s an average, ordinary person that then undergoes some extraordinary transforming event – oftentimes in an instant. And then subsequently they get a new body, and they’re strong, and they’re supernatural, and they don’t die, and they don’t get sick. And they live the life that we all wish we could. I’ll give you an example: Clark Kent becomes who – Superman. Peter Parker becomes – Spiderman. Bruce Wayne becomes – Batman. Diana becomes – Wonder Woman; tricky one. And she’s fallen out of favor. And Bruce Banner becomes – Incredible Hulk. And those of you who scored 100 percent are officially geeks.
For the rest, the simple point is this: that we have these characters that we invent, and they’re human beings, but they’re super-human. And they don’t get sick, and they don’t get injured, and they don’t die – not like we do. There’s something immortal about them, and we love that. Same thing happens with all the Fantastic Four characters, and all of the others. And wouldn’t we be just totally bummed if like Superman got the flu all the time, right? He’s flying, and he’s going, “I got a runny nose. I gotta go home.” And wouldn’t we be bummed if The Hulk was like picking something up and like threw out his back and had to go to the chiropractor? Like, “Hulk need chiropractor,” you know?
We’d be like, “Dang it! You know, that’s not” – see, something in us wants this different body that’s incapable of being hurt and broken and frail and fragile and defeated. Something in us wants this body, and I’ll tell you where it comes from: Ecclesiastes says that God has set eternity in the hearts of men; that something in us wants to be eternal. Something in us wants to live and not die, wants to be healthy and not sick. To me, this indicates that the world is not the way it was supposed to be; otherwise we’d be okay with it. We get frustrated. We all do. Any of you who have ever been sick and frustrated – any of you who have ever thought, “Man, I wish I could get healthy. I wish I didn’t have aches and pains. I wish I didn’t have to see my friends, family, loved ones die.”
Those of you who have ever said, “I wish we didn’t have any wars and nobody got killed. I wish we didn’t have millions of AIDS orphans running around in Africa. I wish everybody had clean drinking water. I wish that the super-viruses weren’t more powerful than the antibiotics, and seeing kids die from staph infections and such. I wish that never happened.” Any of you who have ever felt that, longed for that, yearned for that, desired that – whether or not you acknowledge or understand it, what you want at your deepest level is Jesus Christ. You want somebody to take away sin from the whole world. You want someone to lift the effects of the curse.
You want someone to get rid of disease and illness and the frailty of the human condition. You want somebody to give you a new body, and you want to live forever as a new person in a new place. Paul says that happens through Jesus Christ alone. He then moves on; he moves on to ask the question how will we receive our glorified body? When will this happen? We get a new body, we get to go to a new Heaven, new earth, new Jerusalem, new Kingdom. No sickness, no illness, no death, no curse – great! When will this happen? How will this happen? Verse 50: “I declare to you, brothers” – and I would add “sisters” – “that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”
Here’s what he says: God is holy; we’re unholy. God’s eternal; we’re mortal. God is the living God; we die. That we are simply not built for Heaven, so what God must do is take us sinful, frail, dying, broken, weak people, transform us so that we are living, healthy, holy people fit for his Kingdom. He does that through death. He does that through Jesus’ death, and Jesus’ resurrection, prototypical of what is before us – those of us who trust in Jesus. That’s it. That’s it. And let me state this as plainly as I can: this is about Jesus. Okay, if you’re here and you’re not a Christian, it’s about Jesus.
The problem is sin. The result is the curse. The effects are sickness and injury and frailty and death. And the answer is the resurrection of Jesus to conquer over sin and death and sickness and illness and the curse and to undo all that has been done from Adam and Eve and their sons and daughters. And that until there has been a transformation by Jesus, both of our body and our world then we are not fit for God’s presence. We are not fit for God’s Kingdom, so God needs to do a miraculous work to transform us, thereby enabling us to be ready for the eternal state with him. The next question is obviously when does this happen? Can we do that right now? How does this work?
Beginning in verse 51: “Listen, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep” – die – “but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” Some of you who are into eschatology, the doctrine of last things, there’s a big debate about the trumpet. “What’s a trumpet?” It’s a trumpet, all right, and the trumpet sound simply is this: it’s the end of the age. It’s the last thing, right? Doo-doo-doo-doo! The big grand finale – the trumpet’s gonna be blown, and this is the sign that all things are coming to an end. The old world is passing away; the new world is coming. Jesus is coming into human history to take the throne and rule and reign on earth and Heaven simultaneously.
Jesus is coming. This is the heralding of the coming of the King. “For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable” – that’s us, with our frail bodies – “must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 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.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Here’s what he says: God is good. God has given us his law. The law is reflected, Romans teaches us, in two places: externally in Scripture, and internally on our conscience. Let me get some water while I suffer the curse over here – feeling terrible. And what he says is this: that we are all lawbreakers, and by definition we break the law. We know it in our conscience and heart. We are understanding of it when we read Scripture. We don’t do what we’re supposed to do – sins of omission. We do do what we’re not supposed to do – sins of commission. We’re all sinners. Why does that matter? Because sin results in death, and because we’re all sinners, we all die.
And death now is a great foe, right? Do not, do not, do not believe those who would tell you that death is our friend. It’s a natural life cycle; it’s the way God intended things; it’s to be embraced. It is not. The first time I heard that, I was ten years old. My grandpa George died of a heart attack.
And I remember thinking, “This is not my friend. Death is not my friend. Heart attacks are not friends. Heart attacks are enemies. Grandpa is my friend. And anything that kills my Grandpa, that’s my enemy.” I mean I deeply loved my grandpa George; deeply loved my grandpa George. He and I were so close, and when the pastor told me it was a good thing he died – it was part of God’s plan that we die, and death is natural – I was like, “This is ridiculous.” That was literally the day I turned my back on God and said, “God, if you killed my grandpa, what good are you? God, if you’re into killing grandpas and I’m supposed to celebrate the death of my grandpa, what kind of nonsense is that?
See, my grandpa’s supposed to be alive today. My grandpa’s supposed to be playing with my kids, and they’d love him. We see death as an enemy as Christians. We say, “God is the living God. God made the world good. God made us very good. Cancer is bad, illness is bad. Death is bad. Sickness is bad. Where did it come from? It came from us joining Satan in the rebellion against God. Just like a virus getting into a body or a virus getting into a computer system, sin comes into human history and it infects and affects everything negatively, destroying it; leading to death.” So we don’t embrace death as a good thing. We don’t see it as a friend; we see it as a foe.
And the problem is, however, that death is such a perennial foe that it always wins. It doesn’t matter what you do – and I know some of you are into naturopathy, and we would say, “Praise be to God!” Build up your immune system. Watch your diet. Exercise. Take good care of yourself. Steward the body that God has given you well. But it doesn’t matter how well you take care of yourself – death still wins. You still die. It still gets a victory, and we all die. And the question is well, how can we beat death? The answer is there’s only one person who ever has, and that’s Jesus Christ. Only through Jesus can death be beaten, because only through Jesus can sin be defeated – and sin leads to death.
See, Jesus lived without sin. Jesus died for our sin, and Jesus rose to conquer death, which is our great enemy. So through Jesus there is the forgiveness of sin, and through Jesus there is the resurrection from death, so that then we, who trust in Jesus, have the opportunity to, like Jesus, mock death. Not see it as always winning, but see it as ultimately being defeated. For three days, between Jesus’ crucifixion and his resurrection, it looked like death won. But when Jesus rose, it showed that he conquered sin and death for us in his body. Subsequently, you and I have the opportunity to defeat death; to live forever in the world that we all long for, in the bodies that we all wish for, as a gift of God to those who trust in his son, Jesus Christ.
And the beauty of this is then we can say, “Where, O death, is your victory?” There’ll be a day when you mock your coffin. “Where, O death, is your sting?” “Oh, it hurt, but I don’t hurt any more, and I died, but I’m not dead any more. Because of Jesus Christ alone, sin and death and frailty and the effects of the curse and our evil is overcome. And I’m telling you this: it is only through Jesus Christ that this occurs. Some of you will say, “But there are many religions, Mark.” I understand – not one of which was founded by anyone who claimed to be God. Not one of which was founded by anyone who claimed to come down from Heaven.
Not one of which was founded by anyone who claimed they could forgive sin. Not one of which was founded by anyone who said they would die and rise to conquer sin and death. Only Jesus Christ made those claims, and upon his resurrection, Jesus validated all of his claims as God come down from heaven to forgive sin by triumphing over sin and death through the cross and the empty tomb. And so if you’re here today, the answer is simply this: it is Jesus Christ. You are a sinner. This is a cursed world. You will die. The question is what then? We pray the answer is that you would love Jesus and follow in his way, and that his resurrection would be prototypical of yours.
That you would get out of your grave, and you would say, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” That you would celebrate the life that God has given you eternally in the new body, in the new Heaven, in the new Kingdom, restored back to God’s original intentions of creation before sin entered the world. The question then comes: when does this happen? How does this happen? He says it happens in an instant. It happens immediately, instantaneously, quickly. We’re not talking about a long trajectory of evolutionary progress whereby medicine and genetics and the understanding of our DNA enables us to live forever. We find the proverbial Fountain of Youth, thereby qualifying us to never taste death.
What he says is that Jesus Christ is coming back. This is the Christian’s great hope: Jesus Christ is coming back. We don’t know when. Could be today; could be thousands of years. We just don’t know. But Jesus Christ is alive and well today. He rose from death. He proved it to witnesses. He ascended into Heaven. He’s seated on a throne, ruling and reigning. And one day he will return, and when he does, in an instant, those who are dead will be called forth out of their grave. In some ways, like Jesus’ friend Lazarus, who was dead, and Jesus called his name and he came out. Those who sleep, Daniel 12:2 says, in the dust of the earth – multitudes will arise. We’ll get up our of our graves at the second coming of Jesus.
And we’ll get our glorified, resurrected, eternal, supernatural, not subject to curse, pain, sin, death, body. We’ll receive that gift at that point. Our salvation will be complete. We’ll be in our glorified state. We’ll see Jesus Christ face to face. 1 Corinthians 13 says we’ll know him as we are known, and we’ll have our eternity together forever with Jesus; new King, new Kingdom, new body, as God intended. He says that’ll happen in an instant when Jesus returns. Those who are dead will get out of their grave. The second question, then, that he answers in this section is well, what about those who are alive at the second coming of Jesus? And they get transformed, too, in an instant. You don’t need to die to get an eternal, glorified body.
So think of it like this: you’re at home on the treadmill. You’re running, running, running, running, trying to beat the curse. “I’m gonna live forever.” Jesus comes back. Boom! Glorified body – get off the treadmill, walk to Krispy Kreme, worship Jesus all day, right? That’s the way it works. In an instant – that’s the way that it will work. So how many of you, I’ve got your hopes up, and you’re looking forward to God’s good eternal Kingdom? You’re looking forward to your new body, eternal state – that world without sickness, poverty, disease, without starvation, without viruses, without terrorism, without fear? Where there will be no funerals; where there will be no doctors; where there will be no sickness; where there will be no Kleenex; where there will be no medicine cabinets?
That world is the Kingdom of God, and that world is coming with Jesus Christ, our King. And the question is well, as we long for that day, as we wait for that day, as we yearn for that day – and I hope your heart yearns for that day. The question is well, what do we do with the days between now and the day when we see Jesus Christ face to face upon his return? Paul concludes his words to his church that are likewise applicable to us, in verse 58. “Therefore” – here is his conclusion – “my dear brothers” – my dear sisters, right? Those of you who are here today, and are dearly loved of God, dearly loved by us, and dearly loved by me – “stand firm. Let nothing move you.”
See, it’s when you get sick that you can start to doubt the goodness of God. It’s when you become injured, and your life is altogether disrupted, that you can doubt the goodness of God. It is when those that you love most dearly are suffering that you can doubt the goodness of God. It is when those who you love most deeply are dying that you can begin to doubt the goodness of God. And it is perhaps even as you face the immanency of your own death that you have the proclivity – perhaps, some of you – to start to doubt the goodness of God.
To say, “God, why does this happen? Why am I sick? Why are they sick? Why am I dying? Why are they dying? God, why don’t they have health? Why don’t I have health? God, I thought you were a good God. I thought you loved me. I thought by your stripes I was healed. I thought by your stripes we were healed. I thought you had good things for your children. Where is my good Father?” And he simply says, “Stand firm, and let nothing move you” – including the car wreck; including the injury; including the sickness; including the disease; including the cancer; including the heart attack; including the funeral. Let nothing move you. Stand firm.
You need the Lord the most when you are hurting, and others need the Lord the most when they are hurting. And we do not have a God who is unable to sympathize with us in our weakness, Hebrews says. He’s been there. He’s suffered. He’s died. He’s gone through suffering and death to resurrection, and we need to trust him until we see him, not doubt him until we do. What should we do, then, with our days, as we remain as faithful people, awaiting the second coming of Jesus, trusting in our own resurrection? He concludes with this statement: “Always give yourselves fully” – wholeheartedly; devotedly – “to the work of the Lord” – to ministry, to the service of Jesus; we’re all in full-time ministry, who know the Lord.
“Because you know” – constantly reminding yourself, assuredly – “that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” It’s not in vain. What that means is this: that so many of us need to acknowledge that our ministry comes out of our weakness, not our strength; our pain, and not our health. For those of you who have suffered the loss of a loved one, Corinthians says you can comfort others with the comfort you receive. For those of you who have miscarried, and you’ve tasted death in your own womb, then you have the opportunity to speak of the hope and the resurrection of Jesus Christ for those who love and belong to him to those who need it most desperately.
For those of you who struggle with constant, on-going, chronic pain and infirmity; for those of you whose bodies are not functioning well, and it leads to mental problems and difficulty with your memory, and difficulty with your clarity, you need to understand that there is a resurrection body awaiting you, and there is more to this life. And as Jesus prayed, there is a Kingdom coming where the will of the Father is done, and nothing else is done but the will of the Father. And then you should be able to take the hope that you have – because as Christians, we do suffer just like everyone else. But we suffer in hope, knowing that there is life beyond this life.
That one day this shell, and its frailty and imperfections and dishonors, will go away, and it will be replaced with a brand new body in an eternal state, in a brand new world that doesn’t have sin and death and the curse and sickness and evil and injustice and tyranny – just the Lord, and his people, and life and love forever. And we take that hope, and we share that hope with people, especially those who are in pain, especially those who are suffering, especially those who are dying, so that they, too, will have hope. And what he says is that this is not in vain; that this is exactly what is needed. That we need to comfort others with the comfort we receive; we need to share the hope we have with others who have no hope.
We need to comfort those who are hurting, and we need to be able to explain to them, in a loving and winsome way, that we know why it is the way that it is. We know why the world is the way that it is. It’s simply because of sin – not because of God. And one day the world that we long for will be here, when the Lord Jesus returns. And the only way to taste that world and to enjoy that place is to repent of sin and trust in him. And so today we would simply say this: the work of the Lord is not in vain. I mean I’m here sick as a dog; I’ve never missed a service, because I believe that the work of the Lord is not in vain.
I believe that there are people here today that God has called to salvation. I believe God has brought you here to trust him, not to doubt him. To repent of sin to him; to give your life to Jesus; to right this day, in your seat, ask Jesus to forgive you. Ask Jesus to embrace you. Ask Jesus to serve and love you, because you need him. Ask Jesus to rise you from death. Ask Jesus to take you to be with him forever, in the body that you long for, in the place that was made for those who no longer have sin and the curse and death to contend with. If you’re not here and you’re not a Christian, you need Jesus. You need Jesus Christ. Let me make that as clear as I can.
There is no hope – there is no life – there is no forgiveness – there is no healing – there is no eternity – there is no Heaven apart from Jesus. It’s just Jesus. It’s all Jesus. And it’s only Jesus. We would just implore you to give your lives to Jesus. Tell him, this day, “Jesus, forgive me of sin. Be my God. Take my life.” And then spend the rest of your life following Jesus, and one day you will see him in your glorified body, and you will see the Kingdom that he has prepared for you. For those of you that are here and you’re Christians, and you’re suffering, and you’re sick, or those that you love are suffering and sick, we just implore you, do not doubt the goodness of God. Keep a long-term, hopeful trajectory of resurrection and eternity.
And it is not in any way to diminish the suffering and hardship of your life, but it is to give it clarity and purpose that this is the world that occurred because of sin. And the one that is coming is not like that; that’s the one that Jesus has made in his new creation. And now we give you a chance to respond. We always respond. We’ll respond with giving of tithes and offerings – for those of you who are not Christians, don’t give. We’ll respond with taking of communion, remembering Jesus’ body broken, bloodshed; Jesus’ body and blood; died and rose to save us.
See, we’re all going to die at different points, but we’ll all rise in the same instant. There will be a day when all of God’s children – Old Testament, New Testament, all the nations, tribes, tongues, languages, cultures, and peoples of the earth who love Jesus and long for his coming – when he returns, we will all rise together in an instant, in our glorified bodies. We’ll be together forever with Jesus. And when we get up for communion I want you to see that. I want you to see the future that awaits us, that future of hope. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, there will be a resurrection on the other side of our death – we who trust in him.
And then we’ll sing and we’ll celebrate. Why – because Jesus is alive – because this life is not the only reality. Because we are pilgrims and sojourners; we are passing through, doing ministry that is not in vain, in the moments that God would give us in the frail, sick body, waiting for the Kingdom of God and the coming of our own resurrection. I’ll pray.
Father God, I thank you that today I’m sick. I feel horrible. My nose is running. I got a headache. I can’t breathe. My throat’s aching. I thank you, God, that I just feel horrible, because it reminds me that this earth is not my home, that this body is not my home. It reminds me that the world you made is not supposed to be like this, and that my sin has ruined everything. And I thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming and living in this frail, mortal body. Humbly getting sick and suffering and being hungry and tired and cold. Seeing the death of those you love, weeping at funerals, and ultimately suffering and dying yourself. And Jesus, I thank you though it looked like death defeated you and had a victory over you; that three days later you rose in triumphant victory.
That you conquered sin; you conquered death; that you conquered the curse. You took away disease and infirmity and ailment, sickness and all that is therein. And I thank you, Jesus, that you’re alive and well today, and you’ve gone before us to prepare a place for us – an eternal place. I pray, Lord Jesus, that we would trust in you alone, and that we would not be moved when hardship would come – that we would give our lives to the work of the Kingdom – serving others, loving others, particularly those who are sick and dying and hurting. And Jesus, we pray that you would never allow us to turn our back on you in our moments of deepest pain and deepest frustration, but instead to run to you knowing that you are a good God, and that the evils of this world are not from your hand.
But you are the one who triumphs over them through the cross and the empty tomb. And so Jesus, we love you. We long for the day when we will see you face to face. In the meantime, let us give ourselves wholeheartedly to the work of the ministry, knowing that our labors are not in vain. And so Jesus, we now sing in your honor. We take communion in your honor. We remember you till one day we see you face to face in the glorified state as we arise together with all your children to sing your praises at the great party in the end. We long for that day. Amen.