Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 20 2020 - 1 Corinthians 15:29-58 – Not in vain

We asked yesterday, why anyone would hope for an exhausted body to be raised from the dead? Why hope to return to the kind of life we gladly left behind?

Paul makes it clear that resurrection is not the same as resuscitation. The resurrected body is very different from the body that is left behind at death; it is like Christ’s risen body. “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, 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” (1 Corinthians 15: 42-44). When Paul speaks here of a “spiritual body” he does not mean an immaterial body, any more than the resurrected body of Jesus was immaterial. Paul speaks of a body – a life – entirely and fully animated by the Spirit of God.

It is only when the graves have given up their dead that “death will be swallowed up in victory”. Until that day, death still reigns over the bodies of those whom we have lost and who now “sleep in Jesus.” In that day, when all things are made new, our resurrection bodies shall share in the glory of the new creation.

As Tom Wright puts it in his wonderful book, The Way of the Lord, “At the end of his long argument [in 1 Corinthians 15], Paul does not conclude by saying 'so therefore we can be assured of life after death'. He says, rather, 'be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, since you know that, in the Lord, your labour is not in vain'.”

The resurrection of Jesus Christ not only shapes and guarantees our future, it also directs and empowers present action. We are to live towards resurrection. Through the labour of our minds and hands and voices we are to anticipate the age to come. We are to work to make ourselves now more of what we shall be then – we are to grow in likeness to Christ. We are to work to make the fellowship of God’s people now more as it shall be then – a colony of heaven on earth. We are to work to make society now more as it shall be then – a society marked by justice, peace and mutual blessing. We are to work to make the very fabric of creation now more as it shall be then – resurrection demands creation care. Resurrection brings hope to a groaning world and that hope takes the form of a foretaste of the age to come. What we do now counts for eternity. We do not simply dream dreams of what shall be, we seek to make the vision a reality – even though we know that it cannot be fully what it shall be until he appears.

I have mentioned before the wristband I wear bearing the single word “Risen.” It is a reminder to me that Christ is risen from the dead and that I share already in his resurrection life. It is a reminder to me to live that life in all that I think and say and do. I wear it when I am working. I wear it at home. I wear when I am exercising and even when I am in the shower. I wear it when watching TV or when talking to friends. I wear it while at the computer and when browsing the internet. I wear it at church. I wear it when gardening. I wear it when shopping. I wear it on holiday. I wear it in bed. Every part and aspect of my life is to be lived as one who is raised with Christ, who is to live the resurrection life and is to be an advocate for resurrection.

Risen Lord Jesus, help us to celebrate your resurrection by living resurrection lives. Strengthen us by your Spirit that we may labour to bring more of what shall be into the 'now' of our daily lives, knowing that in you our labour is not in vain.

Peter Misselbrook