Holy Week and Easter remind us that life on this earth is a journey and death is a stop along the way. But death is not the final destination. Just as our Lord Jesus Christ has been raised bodily from death, we, too, will be raised to eternal life.
St. John gives us a vision of our destination, where we will join a great multitude of fellow saints. Of this multitude we are told, “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:16–17).
This is our destination and our destiny as Christians, certainly because of our Lord’s life and death, and also because of His resurrection. St. Paul reminds us:
“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead. But He did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:12–20).
The matter of the resurrection of the dead has always intrigued me, and I am not alone. Any thinking person, it seems to me, is challenged to consider what would be required for a human body to be brought back from a state of either partial or total decay and refashioned into a glorified resurrected body much like that of Jesus after His resurrection.
How can it be that a mound of dust (“… for dust you are and to dust you will return,” Gen. 3:19) can be reshaped and reconstituted as a resurrected body, simply at the word of God? This miraculous accomplishment defies human experience and comprehension. Yet, Paul says very clearly, “For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.… But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Notwithstanding any natural skepticism and doubt, we have God’s promise and assurance that we, too, will be raised with Christ!
As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and the promise of our own resurrection, Terry and I express to you—especially to those of you whose thoughts and hearts turn to the memory of loved ones who have gone before— our prayers for God’s blessing and our quiet hope and absolute assurance that because of Christ, the victory is ours.
“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
“‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:54–58).
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