Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

Only A Seed . . .

It was just before Christmas during my second year at the first church I was called to pastor.  As I spoke with this dear little lady who happened to be the wife of one of the earlier pastors of the same church,  now widowed and alone, she spoke to me of the future, drawing attention to a little shriveled pecan that had remained on the branch of the tree just outside her kitchen window.  All the other pecans had fallen to the ground – but this one remained – tenaciously holding on to the branch, not letting go.

As we talked she lifted her gnarled and wrinkled hand and pointed and placed her finger on the window pane.  The little shriveled pecan became a reflection of her own finger as if she were pointing to a mirror.  She said it was “no good for nothin'” – that it was like her – that when that pecan fell she too would fall from the branch of the tree of life God had placed her on.  For some reason she felt that her life was very closely tied to that one little pecan – stuck on the branch – wanting to move on the next stage of life, but for some reason still hanging on.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but she had touched on a very profound thought which the Apostle Paul speaks about in 1 Corinthians.

But God  gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of  fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable  body; it is  sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is  raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So  also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

1 Corinthians 15:38-50

In death, what will the future be like?  In this life our bodies may be worn out and tired, shriveled and wrinkled,  but what will the resurrection life be like?  What kind of body will we have?

In an attempt to describe the essentially indescribeable and to express the inexpressible, Paul uses the analogy of a seed. The seed is put into the ground and is transformed, but ultimately it rises with a very different kind of body from that which was sown.  Paul shows that at one and the same time, there can be dissolution, difference and continuity.  The seed is dissolved;  when it rises from the ground there is a vast difference in the body God gives it;  yet in spite of the differences, it is the same life, the same seed. There is continuity.

Our earthly bodies will be buried and will in a sense dissolve.  Yet they will rise a different form, but it is the same person who rises.  Our loved one may be dissolved by death, but our assurance is that same loved one will be changed by resurrection into a glorified body – ‘sown in weakness, raised in power’.

Paul asserts from this analogy that there is not just one kind of body.  Each separate part of creation has its own body.  The acorn is resurrected into an oak tree, never into a spruce.  Wheat seed produces a wheat stalk and wheat grain, never rye.  Corn produces corn.  The tulip bulb always becomes a tulip.  The pecan always becomes a pecan tree.  There is an identification and continuity in nature, with each seed having its peculiar resurrected stalk and blossom.  So God gives to each of us human creatures a body that is uniquely ours.  It is reasonable to expect a suitable, recongnizable body suited for resurrection life, the same, but different, particularly suited for immortality.

In order for a seed to do the work of a seed, it must be sown. It must fall from the tree.  It must die in order to live.  That pecan one day fell from the branch of that tree and in a sense so did that dear little lady.  She let go of this earthly existence and fell safe and secure into the mighty hands of our living God.  Torn between remaining here and going to be with the Lord she seemed to be saying with Paul, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.

Corinthians 15:51-58

Blessings and Peace to You All,

Pastor Mark

Categories: Death, Faith, Resurrection Life