BUILT TO LAST (1 CORINTHIANS 15:35-58)
During their vacation and while they were visiting Jerusalem, George’s mother-in-law died. With death certificates in hand, George went to the American Consulate Office to make arrangements to send the body back to the States for proper burial.
The Consul, after hearing of the death of the mother-in-law told George that the sending of a body back to the States for burial is very, very expensive. It could cost as much as $5,000.00. The Consul continues, in most cases the person responsible for the remains normally decides to bury the body here. This would only cost $150.00. George thinks for some time and answers, “I don’t care how much it will cost to send the body back; that’s what I want to do.”
The Consul, after hearing this, says, “You must have loved your mother-in-law very much considering the difference in price.” “No, it’s not that,” says George. “You see, I know of a case years ago of a person that was buried here in Jerusalem. On the third day he arose from the dead! I just can’t take that chance.”
Paul the apostle received a list of questions from the church in Corinth. One of the top considerations on the list provided by the curious Corinthians was the nature of the resurrected body. Not only are 1 Corinthians’ 47 references to the body a record for any book in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15 has more reference to the resurrection body (vv 35, 37, 38, 38, 40, 40, 44, 44, 44, 44) than any chapter or book in the Bible. Verses 42-44 obviously intrigue me now that I am in the middle age category.
What is the nature of the resurrected body? How is it different from the physical body we have? How is the resurrected body superior to the earthly body?
The Resurrected Body is Free From the Restriction on Lifespan
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable (1 Cor 15:42)
I read with interest Internet accounts on how long living creatures live. Let’s start with creepy crawlies. The itsy-bitsy spider lives a short 100 days. The nuclear-surviving cockroach lives just up to seven years. The lifespan of an adult American cockroach is between 6-12 months. The average life span of a slithering snake is 15-20 years.
Water creatures differ in lifespan according to their species. The average lifespan for guppies is 3-5 years, but 10-30 years for Goldfish and Koi. The Chinese longevity “gui” or turtle lives but 25 years; the seal lives longer at 46 years.
Birds, also, differ in life expectancy. Canaries live 7-10 years, doves 10-15 years, parrots 15-20 years, and cockatoos a ripe old age of 30-40+ years.
Animals do not necessarily live longer than other creatures. The average lifespan of any dog is 10-12 years. The cat with nine lives has an average lifespan 12-15 years for indoor cats and the rat’s is 33 months.
Earthlive.org documents the age of mammals in years:
Grey Wolf/ Tiger/Leopard/Jaguar - 20
Camel - 25.5
Indian Rhinoceros - 47
Chimpanzee and Orang-utan (the longevity monkeys) - 55+
Indian Elephant - 78
Man, in contrast, is durable. World Health Organization estimated that people in 24 countries live over 70 years, and half of the WHO member countries live over 60 years. At the other extreme people in 32 countries live less than 40 years. All the bottom 10 countries were in sub-Saharan Africa, with Ethiopia lowest at 33.5. http://www.who.int/inf-pr-2000/en/pr2000-life.html
The highest average life expectancy in the world is in Okinawa, Japan, at 81.2 years - 86 for women, 75 for men. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/1977733.stm
The latest figure for America is 77.6 years but obesity can reduce a person’s life by 2-5 years (USA TODAY 03/17/2005 “Obesity threatens life expectancy”). Smoking slices a life by 5-6 years on the average.
Psalms 90:10 reads, “The length of our days is seventy years--or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”
1 Corinthians 15 says that the earthly body is corruptible or perishable in NIV (v 42). Perishable is a better translation as it conveys the idea of the brevity of man and the decay of the body in the Greek word. Corruption has the idea of moral corruption – dishonesty, fraud, vice, but the word “perishable” means the limited lifespan of the body. It’s been said, “Death and taxes are the only two certainties in life.”
The body will experience wear and tear; our brains are as certain to lose cells as our heads to lose hair. The child turns into a youth, the youth into an adult, and the adult into a retiree before exiting as an obituary or an epitaph or a memory - all in the blink of an eye without our permission. The key word is “in time,” not “if” but “when.” In time your body and muscles will feel its age, act its age, shrivel and shrink with age. In time you will feel weaker, walk slower, be clumsier, duller and grumpier. In time a rookie, a machine, a youth or a graduate replaces you. The circle of life clears out the aged to make room for the infant. The Chinese say, “The behind waves push the leading waves in a river.” It may be good or right time, wrong time or bad timing and it could be a long time to go or in no time at all, but it will happen in time; it will strike someday, sooner or later. The cleverest escape artist escapes anything but death.