1 Corinthians 15:50–58
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 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 and sisters, 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.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be Superman – to be invulnerable and endowed with unbelievable abilities? In today’s passage, we learn from Paul that, at the time of Jesus’ return to earth, and the coming of the kingdom of God, the body of each follower of Christ will undergo a seemingly instantaneous transformation from a “mortal and perishable” body to one that is “immortal and imperishable”. While the suddenness of that transformation is incredible, it is even more unimaginable how a physical body can be everlasting and indestructible. Imagine a body with no sickness, no injury, no blemish, and… no death. What could this be like, and what could this mean for followers of Christ?
For those of us blessed to be physically fit, and currently in the full bloom of youth, adolescence, or young adulthood, many already experience the temporary sense of physical invulnerability often associated with these stages of life. Now imagine that not only is that sense of invulnerability actually true, but that you could readily perform phenomenal feats of coordination, strength, and dexterity in your chosen realm of excellence, and that these abilities are automatic and perfectly suited to your intent. This would feel like being a super-human, which, of course, would characterize your new physical body.
For those of us with long-standing infirmities from injury, disease, or genetics, there is that sense of vulnerability and hurt since an earlier time in our lives. Imagine that not only have the long-standing weaknesses or deficits disappeared, but you could once again pursue physical activities that had been long deemed impossible. This would feel like a complete physical rebirth with total healing of all hurts, losses, and disabilities.
For those of us who have already lived multiple decades, many have already experienced the ravages of time upon our bodies, with increasing fragility and decreased capability. Now imagine that not only could we return to a known, younger physical version of ourselves, but that we could achieve an even more robust, supple, and strong version which once characterized our ideal physical self. This would feel like an unexpected opportunity to have a second chance to do all the things that we had once enjoyed, and to do those things that we couldn’t (or wouldn’t) have done properly the first time around.
Regardless of our physical state, all of us will undergo a transformation that far exceeds the physical differences that currently exist among all of us. In so doing, we can escape the death that all human beings deserve as members of a race that disobeys God’s laws, rebels against Him, and cannot stop performing sinful acts. Because of Jesus Christ, raptured believers will be able to rejoice in their newfound “heavenly bodies”, and in the knowledge that they will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, as Paul indicates in the last line of the chapter, we should “always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord” since this labor in the Lord will not be in vain.
Note: Each day’s devotional is written by a different member of the GRC family.