Bodies Like Jesus

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”
Romans 8:29-30 NIVUK
“For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.”
Romans 8:29-30 NLT

I suppose it is inevitable that God will know “His people in advance”. After all, He knows the end from the beginning, because he is eternal, not bounded by time as we know it. But predestination leads, as Paul wrote, the “chosen ones of God” being “conformed to the image of His Son”. Is that the spiritual or physical image? The former of course because when we receive our new bodies we will be recognisable as who we were in our natural life. God isn’t going to create lots of Jesus clones, identical like chocolate soldiers wrapped in tinfoil. Jesus’s disciples recognised Him after His resurrection. It was as if He had the same body, but this time with special properties. We read in Matthew 17:1-3 that the disciples recognised Moses and Elijah in their new bodies, “Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus”. So, as Paul wrote, Jesus is our older brother and one day we will join Him, with bodies similar to His in properties, but unique in the way we look.

But we know that one day our natural bodies, weakened by age, illness and sin, will die, and will be buried, cremated or whatever we have willed. Paul wrote much about our bodies and their resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. And he drew a distinction between our natural bodies and our resurrected spiritual bodies. I Corinthians 15:44, “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”. So after we die we will have a spiritual body. Nothing like what we have now, but a body nevertheless. Our natural bodies are no longer of any use to us and will return the to the elements that they were made up of. The popular artists of previous centuries made much of spiritual bodies and portrayed them as ghosts and the like. A good read is “A Christmas Carol”, the fictional book by Charles Dickens and written in the mid nineteenth century, and much favoured as a plot for film makers. Previous generations had a fascination for spiritual bodies, but little of substance is known about them other than what we read in the Bible.

But our spiritual bodies don’t remain as such. In 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 we read, “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies”.

So the Bible indicates that there will be three states to our lives. We are born with a natural body. When it dies we will acquire a spiritual body. And then, when Jesus returns, we will be given an immortal body. That body will be amazing because it will be like Jesus’s body. And all the sorrows we have experienced on Planet Earth will be no more. Revelation 21:4, “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”.  A spiritual body won’t, of course, have tears and experience pain in the way our natural bodies do. But the wonder doesn’t stop there. In Revelation 21:3 we read, “I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them””.

We pilgrims look up and imagine the certainty of the coming Lord. And we lift our feet with renewed vigour, heading towards the goal Paul wrote about in Philippians 3:14, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us”. Truly, the race we run will end one day. The finishing post could be just over the next hill. We mustn’t give up, for Jesus’ sake.

Dear God. Your creation is extraordinary. It extends out of this world into realms of which we only have a glimpse. There is so much in the future to look forward to and we look on with wonder and amazement, and with grateful hearts. Amen.

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