May 23, 2018

Ridge Reading Challenge Devotional: 1 Corinthians 15:35-44

But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body He wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

1 Corinthians 15:35-44 NLT

As long as I can remember, I have worked in a garden in the summer. First in my parents’ and grandparents’ gardens, and now my own. I don’t remember being particularly fond of garden work when I was a kid. It was hot and dusty and basically hard work. But for some reason, the first summer I owned a house with a yard, I put in a garden. I have found over the years that I love the initial work in the garden – the tilling of the soil, turning over the dirt until it is powdery smooth and rich looking, then staking out rows and digging the furrows in which to drop the seeds. And the seeds are so interesting, from tiny little radish seeds to cut-up pieces of potato, to corn and beans and peas. I lose interest when it is time to weed, but I certainly love potato salad when the potatoes are freshly dug.

It is not a surprise to us when we plant seeds and little sprigs of green shoot up out of the ground a few days later. But it should be -- it should be a total shock. How can we drop a little wrinkly dead-looking brown bean in the ground and a beautiful green leaf pops out? How did that happen? That plant looks nothing like the seed that was dropped in the ground and covered with dirt. It’s a miracle that we take for granted because we see it year after year, time after time.

When I was younger and I came across this passage in 1 Corinthians, I thought it was just weird. Why is Paul talking about seeds and then talking about people rising from the dead? I would quickly skim over the passage and move on with my day. But as I get older, I am starting to understand why this is so important, and how this can bring us hope.

Over the past several years I have watched as my parents age. Things they took for granted, they can no longer do; simple tasks have become difficult. They don’t see as well, they don’t hear as well. They have artificial heart valves and titanium hips. Now, as I age, I am sore, and slow, and my neck hurts. But God tells me that after I die, I will be resurrected. Why would I want this body back? It is wearing out faster than ice cream melts in August. Why should I look forward to being alive again? Because my new body will be as different from this one as a wrinkly pea is from a fresh green sprout out of the recently tilled garden soil.

This gives hope to the disabled. This gives hope to the widow and the widower. This gives hope to the parents who have lost a child. This gives hope to the diseased. This gives hope to the schizophrenic. This gives hope to the addicted. This gives hope to us all.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory.

Hope indeed.