Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
I was recently visiting some people in a retirement home. A man I had never met before came up to me and asked if he could talk with me for a while. Of course, I could spare a few minutes. He had some questions, serious questions, though by the end of the conversation I was not entirely sure where they were going. However, perhaps that didn’t matter as much as the fact that I took the time to work with him as he pursued answers to his questions.
What was the topic? Is there really going to be a bodily resurrection? Wasn’t the resurrection really just a spiritual thing? We looked briefly at the post-resurrection appearances of Christ in the Gospels. The testimony of the evangelists is that Jesus was raised from the dead, with his body, and did things that were in some way bodily. At the same time, his body seemed not to need to follow all the typical routines of bodily life. He seemed unhindered by things like space, walls, locks, and doors.
In 1 Corinthians 15, the great resurrection chapter of the New Testament, the apostle Paul observes that this risen lord Jesus was seen by many people, even many gathered together, which is not the way an hallucination or overwrought mind works. In verse six, he points out that many of the people who had seen Jesus after the resurrection were still alive. Paul’s claim could be trusted because if Jesus had not risen from the dead, everyone would rise up to prove him wrong.
While we don’t understand all the ins and outs of a bodily resurrection, here’s what we can tell from this passage. First, God cares about physicality. He has nothing against the bodily life of a human. It isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that we tend to use our physicality for bad purposes. But the human physicality itself is not something to be rejected or to escape. The frailty is, and in the resurrection, Jesus seems to take care of that. Second, Jesus shows by his resurrection that he is able to do what would appear impossible to all of us. This should give us confidence that he can keep his other promises, which also seem impossible. Can he take away my sin? Well, he was able to rise from the dead like he said, so I’m going to figure he can do something about sin also. Third, we can have confidence in eternity. We are told here that we have confidence in this life but also in the life to come. Jesus has conquered death. He’s able to take us into eternity, and it will be good. That’s the way he’s made it to work.
I don’t know where the man I was speaking with was going with his logical query, and he didn’t seem quite ready to tell me. I was genuinely on a deadline, as I had an appointment to visit with someone else who lived there. But I do know that, by the end of the conversation, he had been told that Jesus lovingly died for him and rose from the dead in order to be the firstfruits of the resurrection. Jesus’ intention is to raise this man to life and joy as well. I’ve got the same message for my readers. Jesus can do it.
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