At a funeral I always tell two stories, especially when children are present. There was a daffodil bulb that was planted in the ground in the fall. It knew the end had come when it was taken out of the shoe box and buried. The body of the old bulb rotted in the cold earth, but in the spring it was given a resurrection body, the body of a yellow daffodil. This pictures how a plant can have a far more wonderful resurrection body than the body of the old bulb..
The other story I tell is about a caterpillar. He lived on a tree, and he spent his life crawling and chewing. But one by one he saw his family and friends go into a cocoon and die. One day he was sick, and as he lay on his back he looked up and saw beautiful butterflies flying above him. He did not know they were his family and friends who gone before him into their cocoons and died. Then the day came when he also went into a cocoon and his caterpillar body died. But suddenly he found new energy and wings were growing for his resurrection body. He was now a butterfly. And this pictures how a mere insect can have a resurrection body.
In the Old Testament people believed in sheol (the abode of the dead). Its was a dark shadowy disembodied existence. You went there to await the resurrection of your body. And there are many who still believe that when we die we go into a kind of cold storage to await a final resurrection some day..
But Jesus made clear that he was going to terminate sheol (the temporary resting place for the dead). "The hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear my voice and will come out" (John 5:28-29). Peter, the apostle, explained that the Messiah "was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison (in sheol)" (1 Peter 3:18-19). This means that immediately Jesus died and received his resurrection body he cleared out the abode of the dead. People either had a choice of being resurrected or going out into the eternal darkness of nothingness (John 3:19-21). And the amazing thing is that while Jesus' dead corpse was still hanging on the cross "The tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep (in sheol) were raised, and they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many" (Matthew 27:52-53).
Now you can see why Christians all over the world are rejoicing on this Easter Day. Jesus has opened up the way for all of us to receive our resurrection body the moment we die. We do not have to wait in sheol. Many other wonderful things happened as a result of his death and resurrection. Let me pick out three great facts relating to your resurrection body.
1. The death of our physical body is not the end of us as persons. As in the story of the daffodil bulb, our true personality will flower in our resurrection body. The true purpose of a caterpillar is not crawling and chewing on a tree, but flying freely to enjoy the nectar from the flowers in the garden. Jesus said to the thief on the cross "Today you will be with me in paradise" and paradise is the Persian word for a garden.
2. For forty days Jesus showed his resurrection body to the disciples. I believe the old body was disintegrated in the tomb. He did not want it to be venerated or become a place of pilgrimage. And our old bodies will also be disintegrated, either by cremation or by going back to dust in the earth. When he appeared to his disciples, after the first shock they were able to recognize him. We will not be faceless ghosts in heaven. He could talk and hear the disciples, and there will be much to talk about in the heavenly Jerusalem. Jesus ate with his disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem and he cooked and had breakfast with them by the Sea of Galilee. But his resurrection body was no longer limited by earth's gravity or by being located in one place. He could go through doors, and could choose to come into the upper room, or walk with two disciples on the road to Emmaus, or come to the disciples who had caught nothing after fishing all night.
3. He also said "In my Father's house (heaven) there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:2-3). That means the moment we die the trumpet of welcome sounds, and Jesus comes personally to receive us. But that is only the entrance into the eternal city. In heaven Jesus has planned for each person to have his or her place. We need our own privacy, but we are also freed to go in and out and enjoy all the joyful activities of the city of God. There will be plenty going on as every nation will bring the very best of its culture for all to enjoy. You can read a description of that glory in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation.
Any one of those three facts would be enough to be excited about. But put them together you have a picture of what is in store for your resurrection body. Admittedly a daffodil bulb could never picture what its resurrection body would be like. No caterpillar could imagine enjoying a butterfly body. And many people will be in heaven without understanding what is in store for us. But as we get to know our Bible we get to know more and more. Paul said, "'What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him' - these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit" (1 Corinthians 3:9-10).
And that is what we celebrate on this Easter Day. And we want to proclaim
the good news to all people everywhere.