The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is one of the core beliefs of the Christian faith. As such, it has profound implications for us. Here are three.
1. Our body is an essential art of our identity. There’s a little saying that goes something like this: We’re not human beings on a spiritual journey, were spiritual beings on a human journey. It sounds good. It sounds spiritual.
It’s’ just not true.
There was a time when I bought into it. Then someone pointed out that God created us as “embodied beings.” He didn’t create us as little spirits that float around here and there—“the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). So no, we actually are human beings on a spiritual journey rather than spiritual beings on a human journey.
Of course, we’re more than just a body—but that is a very real part of who we are and we need to embrace this. I remember doing a series on the resurrection of the body. A friend came up to me and wanted to know if she understood it right—that the body she had now would be the body that was resurrected. I assured her that was correct—Jesus didn’t receive another body. The body that died was the body that was resurrected (otherwise it would make no sense to speak of it as a resurrection). I’ll never forget her response: “I was really hoping for something better.”
It will be! It will be like Jesus’ body (1 John 3:2 – i.e., a glorified body suited for a heavenly existence rather than an earthly one). Nonetheless, it will be our body. Replacing the gasoline engine in your truck with one that uses diesel doesn’t make it a different truck—it’s the same truck now fitted to run off a different fuel source.
2. Death is bigger than us, but it is not bigger than Jesus. At death, our spirit leaves our body (James 2:26). For those who belong to Jesus, it goes to be with Him (Philippians 1:23). While that’s a glorious thing, as we’ve seen, humans were not created by God to be disembodied spirits. When Jesus returns, our bodies will be resurrected and reunited with out spirits (1 Corinthians 15). That’s why Jesus’ resurrection is referred to as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (v. 20). All of this happens because of Christ’s victory over sin and death. It means that while death is bigger than us, it is not bigger than our Lord!
3. Our greatest triumph is still to come.
Our spirit going to be with Jesus when we die is a glorious thing but not the ultimate plan that God has for us. That is to be like Jesus and have our bodies resurrected and be like His body (1 John 3:2). Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 15. He says the following in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
How do you top that? You say what Paul said in v. 18:
Therefore encourage one another with these words.