Resurrection 15 1Friends, let me go over the Message with you one final time—this Message that I proclaimed and that you made your own; this Message on which you took your stand 2and by which your life has been saved. (I’m assuming, now, that your belief was the real thing and not a passing fancy, that you’re in this for good and holding fast.) 3The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; 4that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as Scripture says; 5that he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, 6and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time, most of them still around (although a few have since died); 7that he then spent time with James and the rest of those he commissioned to represent him; 8and that he finally presented himself alive to me. 9It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence. 10But because God was so gracious, so very generous, here I am. And I’m not about to let his grace go to waste. Haven’t I worked hard trying to do more than any of the others? Even then, my work didn’t amount to all that much. It was God giving me the work to do, God giving me the energy to do it. 11So whether you heard it from me or from those others, it’s all the same: We spoke God’s truth and you entrusted your lives. 12Now, let me ask you something profound yet troubling. If you became believers because you trusted the proclamation that Christ is alive, risen from the dead, how can you let people say that there is no such thing as a resurrection? 13If there’s no resurrection, there’s no living Christ. 14And face it—if there’s no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors. 15Not only that, but we would be guilty of telling a string of barefaced lies about God, all these affidavits we passed on to you verifying that God raised up Christ—sheer fabrications, if there’s no resurrection. 16If corpses can’t be raised, then Christ wasn’t, because he was indeed dead. 17And if Christ wasn’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever. 18It’s even worse for those who died hoping in Christ and resurrection, because they’re already in their graves. 19If all we get out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot. 20But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries. 21There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. 22Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ. 23But we have to wait our turn: Christ is first, then those with him at his Coming, 24the grand consummation when, after crushing the opposition, he hands over his kingdom to God the Father. 25He won’t let up until the last enemy is down—26and the very last enemy is death! 27As the psalmist said, “He laid them low, one and all; he walked all over them.” When Scripture says that “he walked all over them,” it’s obvious that he couldn’t at the same time be walked on. 28When everything and everyone is finally under God’s rule, the Son will step down, taking his place with everyone else, showing that God’s rule is absolutely comprehensive—a perfect ending! 29Why do you think people offer themselves to be baptized for those already in the grave? If there’s no chance of resurrection for a corpse, if God’s power stops at the cemetery gates, why do we keep doing things that suggest he’s going to clean the place out someday, pulling everyone up on their feet alive? 30And why do you think I keep risking my neck in this dangerous work? 31I look death in the face practically every day I live. Do you think I’d do this if I wasn’t convinced of your resurrection and mine as guaranteed by the resurrected Messiah Jesus? 32Do you think I was just trying to act heroic when I fought the wild beasts at Ephesus, hoping it wouldn’t be the end of me? Not on your life! It’s resurrection, resurrection, always resurrection, that undergirds what I do and say, the way I live. If there’s no resurrection, “We eat, we drink, the next day we die,” and that’s all there is to it. 33But don’t fool yourselves. Don’t let yourselves be poisoned by this anti–resurrection loose talk. “Bad company ruins good manners.” 34Think straight. Awaken to the holiness of life. No more playing fast and loose with resurrection facts. Ignorance of God is a luxury you can’t afford in times like these. Aren’t you embarrassed that you’ve let this kind of thing go on as long as you have? 35Some skeptic is sure to ask, “Show me how resurrection works. Give me a diagram; draw me a picture. What does this ‘resurrection body’ look like?” 36If you look at this question closely, you realize how absurd it is. There are no diagrams for this kind of thing. 37We do have a parallel experience in gardening. You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. 38You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will be dramatically different. 39You will notice that the variety of bodies is stunning. Just as there are different kinds of seeds, there are different kinds of bodies—humans, animals, birds, fish—each unprecedented in its form. 40You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—41sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre–resurrection “seeds”—who can imagine what the resurrection “plants” will be like! 42This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! 43The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. 44The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality! 45We follow this sequence in Scripture: The First Adam received life, the Last Adam is a life–giving Spirit. 46Physical life comes first, then spiritual—47a firm base shaped from the earth, a final completion coming out of heaven. 48The First Man was made out of earth, and people since then are earthy; the Second Man was made out of heaven, and people now can be heavenly. 49In the same way that we’ve worked from our earthy origins, let’s embrace our heavenly ends. 50I need to emphasize, friends, that our natural, earthy lives don’t in themselves lead us by their very nature into the kingdom of God. Their very “nature” is to die, so how could they “naturally” end up in the Life kingdom? 51But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. 52You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. 53In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. 54Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by triumphant Life! 55Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now? 56It was sin that made death so frightening and law–code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. 57But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God! 58With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.
The Message® / © 2002 Eugene H. Peterson About