Today: Sunday, December 08, 2019

Dying to live    (6/4/2017 1)

We had to wait a long time.  We planted the seeds weeks ago, and it’s only now that they are beginning to show through as green leaves.  The temptation to dig them up and see if anything was happening was almost irresistible.  In fact there was life there all the time, and time has proved it.

Spring is a time for sowing seeds.  They are buried and left to germinate and come to life by themselves.  Joy comes with the first green shoots.

It’s a powerful image which is taken up in the New Testament as an illustration of death and resurrection.  People die, and naturally people ask, once the body has ceased working and has disintegrated at death, whatever possibility is there that it will in any shape or form come to life again?

So, as a kind of illustration, Paul writes (in 1 Corinthians 15, especially verse 35-38) about the way in which a seed represents the dying and burial of a body, which seems then to be dead and finished, but which in the unseen world underground, and after some time, springs to life and a new shoot emerges.  But his point is not that it actually dies - that’s only what it looks like - but that there is a total transformation.  Who would know, apart from experience, that such a tiny, apparenty lifeless, seed would become a glorious, strong, massively larger plant or bush or tree?  Who would know that there is a mighty oak within a tiny acorn?

So our resurrection bodies are going to be massively different from what gets buried at the end of life.  The bodies we have now are adequate for life on planet Earth.  The transformed ‘bodies’ we will have then will be suitable for God’s heaven and will be at home there.

And just as there is a real connection between the seed and the growing plant, so there will be a real connection between our identity on earth and our new life with God.  I will still be me.  Difficult for the seed to imagine what it will become, but it ’dies’ and is buried in hope of transformation.

The difference between the mortal and the immortal was apparent even in Jesus’ own resurrection.    His body was entirely human - he ate and drank, walked and talked, got tired and slept.  In the end he suffered extremes of pain, he bled and in his broken body, he died.  Then came the transforming event of resurrection.  He was still the same Jesus, but his body had been changed.  The marks of death were still there, he could be seen and heard, yet he came and went more freely than any human body could. 

Christians have just been celebrating Jesus’ Ascension, that moment when Jesus was seen by his followers in his transformed, resurrection body, for the last time.  It was a moment when the curtain of heaven was pulled aside for a moment and it was possible to glimpse a fraction of what a resurrection body might be like - the grain of wheat suddenly seeing the edge of a whole field of wheat.

Our bodies, like the seed, carry the germ of new life.  Resurrection transforms us!


Lord Jesus, because you died, were buried and rose again, give me courage and confidence to know beyond my own death and burial, the new and transformed life you will make reality.  Make us together part of your great harvest.

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