But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” What a foolish question! 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. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. (NLT)
Our ideas of life after death can so easily derive from religious mythology, from taking biblical metaphors literally. This can make heaven less than heavenly. Wafting round on clouds playing harps endlessly along with occasional strolls on gold paved streets is not the most appetising hint of eternal life.
Thankfully it won’t be like that. This passage today suggests we will have bodies that bear similarity to our present bodies. We will recognise one another. Heavenly life is relational life. Just as wheat is wheat in seed form or in fully grown crop form, we will be our essentially true selves in the life to come. Just as Jesus’ body was different yet ultimately recognisable after his resurrection, so it will be with us.
There is continuity and discontinuity. I will be I and you will be you but in perfected form and shape. No more sickness, no more pain, no more growing old and frail. And yet, our God created personalities and selves continue. We do not become disembodied spirits; we do become our true best selves.
But just as a seed of wheat is not transformed unless it ‘dies’ in the ground, so we will not get these perfected bodies and selves till after we die. When those who trust in Jesus die, it is a beginning as well as an ending.