There are many human ‘Body types’-thin, fat, sturdy, slight etc. Most people when they look at themselves have ‘bits’ they would like to change and of course the ‘body industry’ always wants to help whether through plastic surgery, cosmetics etc. There is also the ‘spare part surgery’ option for the important ‘bits’ that don’t work too well. It has even been said that some people have hardly anything they started out with! When you think about it, the human body is a bit like a car really – when it gets a bit daggy we would like to get new model! Well here is the good news! In first Corinthians chapter 15 we are told that Christians will get a new body!
In the Corinthian congregation along with all their other problems there was a significant theological issue. This was that there were some who denied not only the resurrection of Christ but also the bodily resurrection of Christians after death. So in verses 35-49 Paul deals with this important topic which has serious pastoral implications.
The Real You (verses 35-37)
One of the resurrection doubters seems to have asked Paul a question something like –“so how does it work then? What type of body will we have? Like a film star or super model perhaps? Hee, Hee!”
Don’t be a fool Paul responds! In the same way as when you sow a seed it doesn’t look like the plant to come, your resurrected body will not look like the one you have now. But it will still be the same you, with the same spiritual DNA. Just as an ugly Tulip bulb produces a beautiful flower, very different but still a Tulip, so the ‘real you’ will continue through death.
A Designer Body (38-41)
Ok you can hear the ‘doubter’ asking. “So when you reach the ‘Pearly gates’ does St Peter stand there with a ‘body’ sample book and say choose the body you like?” No says Paul, God gives you the body He decides, and not all bodies are the same even on earth. There is a type for humans, another for animals etc. It is actually a question of suitability, a body needs be designed for the environment it has to operate in. A star is no good in water any more that a whale is in the sky. The resurrected body must be suitable for life in what might be called the 5th dimension, the spiritual realm.
A Perfect Body
We know that our earthly bodies are ‘perishable’ i.e. they slowly decay as we age. Aches and pains increase, injuries take longer to heal, and we start to lose hair, teeth, muscle tone etc. But the resurrected body is imperishable, it does not decay, experience pain etc.
Paul describes the earthly body as dishonourable, i.e. debased, sinful and degenerate. This is so spiritually as well as physically and so it is excluded from God’s presence. However for the Christian, the earthly body dies and then is raised to a state of glory, that is a righteous spiritual body because Christ’s blood has cleansed it of its sin. It is sown in weakness i.e. decaying, feeble, sick and sinful, but will be raised righteous, perfect and whole, as Jesus, by the power of the Spirit.
A New Image (verses 44-49)
The resurrected body is indeed a ‘heavenly body’ (v.47) for it is given an ‘Extreme Makeover’, a remodelling of our existing body. This is much like a retreaded tyre that is the same tyre but has a new ‘tread’ or Image. What was worn and defaced is restored to its original design.
There is a divine order from the first man Adam, a physical being, to the last Adam, Christ, who is a life-giving Spirit. The order moves from the physical man to the spiritual Man. So it is for the resurrected body which is (spiritually) genetically re-engineered, given a spiritual makeover to have the same spiritual DNA as Christ, to be in His image.
This means Jesus’ resurrected body gives us some idea what our resurrected body will be like. It will still be recognisable as us, in the same way as Jesus’ disciples still recognised Him. However it was a different body, one that was not bound by physical limitations as shown by his moving through grave clothes, walls etc, without disturbing them. It was also a body that was able to appear and disappear as in the Emmaus story in Luke 24. All this suggests that the resurrected body is one with the characteristics of a spirit, designed for existing in the 5th dimension, that is in a spiritual realm.
In the “Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S Lewis, the back of the wardrobe was actually a doorway to new world, a parallel universe to the one the children lived in. So as for in those ‘In Christ’, death is like a doorway to a new spiritual universe, and with a heavenly body to go with it. The Resurrected body will be a designer body for life in the 5th dimension, a body that has the spiritual DNA of Christ – the pattern, image of God, worn and corrupted in Adam will be restored like a painting that has been defaced.
You always wanted a heavenly body? Well if resurrected in Christ, as you pass through the heavenly gate, God will give you one!