What Happens When We Die? / Day 3


1 Corinthians 15:35-40

But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendour of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendour of the earthly bodies is another.


We've been thinking about what happens when we die. The next question I want to address is: 


For many people, what they look forward to most about Heaven is meeting departed loved ones. Being able to see again those who have died and who they miss desperately.

And so the question is: Will we look the same as we do now or will we look different  - and if we don’t look the same then how will anyone know us and how will we recognise others?

The Bible doesn’t explicitly state what we’ll look like but if we go back to what it said about Jesus in 1 Cor 15 – it said that Jesus is the firstfruits or first example of what this new resurrected body is like.

Let me ask you: After Jesus resurrection, did Jesus look the same?

Think about Mary at the tomb or the disciples on the road to Emmaus – did they immediately recognise Jesus?

“At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

"Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?"
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."

 Jesus said to her, "Mary."
 She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).”

(John 20:14-16)

So Mary doesn’t recognise Jesus immediately which would make me think that his appearance must have changed. And when you think of the beating he went through just a few days before this it’s safe to assume that he had a new resurrection-healed, whole body.

As we go through John 20 Jesus appears to his disciples and shows Thomas the scar marks on his hands – so there is continuity between the old and the new.

It's the same with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus walks with the disciples for miles and talks and they don’t recognise him – he looks different.

Then we read this:

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24: 30-32)

So he was different physically yet there was some sense of similarity and continuity - something clicked and they realised it was Jesus.

So when we ask – will we recognise each other we need to think of recognition in terms of more than just physical appearance – we will recognise each other at a deeper level than just the physical.  Voice, mannerisms, personality, movement – all are ways we recognise people.

In our reading from 1 Corinthians 15, what Paul is saying is that our present earthly bodies are like a seed which is planted and dies and forms the basis of our new resurrected body.  But our new heavenly body will be much superior to the one we live in at the minute.