“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.” I Corinthians 15:36-38
So many things in nature picture death, burial, and resurrection, especially at this time of year.
- A swallowtail caterpillar hangs motionless in its chrysalis, suspended in space on a fennel frond in our garden. It looks dead, but it’s not. It’s overwintering.
- Animals hibernate for winter, buried in burrows or caves, waiting for spring.
- A frog buries itself in the mud and freezes, saved only by its God-given antifreeze.
- Leaves fall and the bare branches end in tight, cold buds for next year’s leaves.
- A seed falls into the soil and dies. A new plant emerges and grows.
Burial is on my heart. It seems many Family members are mourning the loss of loved ones and some, even this week, are enduring the agony of burying them. It feels wrong. We ate and slept together, hugged, and made memories with that face, those hands.
I think burial is on God’s heart, too. After all, “The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die.” (Psalm 116:15) Could this be why so many natural examples exist of burial giving way to life? Are they kind reminders that our Creator understands? He certainly understands the process. “Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day…” (I Corinthians 15:4)
It looked hopeless. He didn’t appear to be dead, like a caterpillar transforming inside a chrysalis, He was dead like a seed. And His resurrection is our only hope for eternal life.
Our Father in heaven knows we need hope and comfort. So we are instructed to “let heaven fill [our] thoughts.” (Colossians 3:2) I thought I’d Google a few verses about heaven. I did not expect to be deluged by information about our bodies being transformed, Christ returning, and eternal freedom from pain and death. It’s overwhelming! Here are a few examples:
- “We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” Roman 8:23b
- “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4
- “But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” Philippians 3:20,21
- “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-3
Look around for the images in Creation of burial-followed-by-life. Like little pop-up ads that arrest our attention, they remind us that there is life to come. If you want to read more about heaven and God’s plan for our bodies, a Google search has a lot to offer. And here are references to other passages about what eternal life will be like, who will be there, and why we get to go.
- Hebrews 12:22-24
- Revelation 7:9-10
- Revelation 5:11-13
- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
May these promises give you hope, whether you are mourning in a season of burial, or simply longing for heaven. Let’s pray for each other to remember our hope in Jesus’ resurrection, and to be deeply comforted.
“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.” I Corinthians 15:42-44