Blog / Book of the Month / "Scars and the Resurrection of the Body" Sermon / 1 Corinthians 15:19–26, 50–57 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Easter Sunday April 21st 2019 / Season Of Easter / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

"Scars and the Resurrection of the Body" Sermon / 1 Corinthians 15:19–26, 50–57 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Easter Sunday April 21st 2019 / Season Of Easter / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

"Scars and the Resurrection of the Body" Sermon / 1 Corinthians 15:19–26, 50–57 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Easter Sunday April 21st 2019 / Season Of Easter / Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Easter Sunday April 21st 2019: Season of Easter / 1 Corinthians 15:19–26 & 15:50–57 "Scars and the Resurrection of the Body"

1 Corinthians 15:19–26

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

1 Corinthians 15:50–57

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

          “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

    “O death, where is your victory?

                    O death, where is your sting?”                 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.

Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Do you have any scars? I have two memorable scars. One was from a box cutter with a new blade, I cut the inside of my ring finger by accident right down to the tendon, that one needed stitches. The other was on a construction site carrying drywall up a stair case, we got into a bit of trouble and I gashed my forehead right in the hairline, that one I got away without stitches but not without a scar. How about you? Do you have scars? The traces of stitches, the marks of one healed from harm?

Through history people have thought about what their resurrected bodies might be like. Will they bear the marks of our life before our death? Will they bear the marks of our sins, the marks of the fallen World full of accidents, filled with the marks of sins that where perpetrated against us, the harm we received from others? For instance at the centre of Michelangelo’s painting in the Sistine Chapel (1537-41) down and to left hand side of Jesus St. Bartholomew is shown in his glorious and incorruptible resurrected body holding in his left hand his own skin from before his death, skin that is empty of his body hanging from his hand like a sheet of fabric because in Bartholomew’s death tradition teaches that he, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, was skinned alive for the name of Jesus, martyred for his faith in the Christ and his preaching of the Gospel. Michelangelo doesn’t make this a bloody image but it is unsettling when you see it and understand what is going on. The moment that Michelangelo is painting is the return of Christ Jesus on The Last Day. The Day when the work started in you in Your baptism is complete, when you “shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at The Last Trumpet.” The painting depicts that moment when we will be caught up to be with Jesus as He descends from Heaven, The glorious Day when the graves will be opened and the dead will be “raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” This is a big part what St. Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. 1 Corinthians chapter 15 speaks to the nature of Jesus’ resurrection and our personal resurrection as Christians in Him, what His resurrection is like and what it will be like when it happens for us. Elsewhere Paul also teaches that this is not done by our own will or power or goodness, which is dubious and flawed at the best of times, but is done by Christ Jesus, “who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.”[1]

So I imagine a sensible question would be “did Jesus have scars after His resurrection?” When Mary Magdalene encountered Jesus in the garden after His resurrection on Easter morning did He have scars from His Crucifixion? When the disciples encountered Jesus on that first Easter did Jesus have the marks of His death on the cross? In the Old Testament speaking through the prophet Isaiah God says to you “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands;”[2] In the Book of Revelation St. John talks about seeing the resurrected Jesus, the Lamb of God in heaven, standing “between the throne and the four living creatures, among the elders … as though [He] had been slain,”[3] and in His Gospel St. John says that Jesus presented Himself to the disciples as One who still bore the wounds of the crucifixion when Jesus “showed them His hands and His side,”[4] and presumably His feet too. Maybe this is why men like the painter Michelangelo envisioned St. Bartholomew and others with the evidence of their deaths present in their resurrected bodies.

While Scripture teaches that it is certainly true for Jesus in His resurrection that He bears evidence of His death for you, will it be that way for Bartholomew or you or your loved ones? Will it be that way for everyone? Is that what St. Paul means when he says that Jesus “will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body?” In 1 Corinthians chapter 15 St. Paul quotes Isaiah 25 when he says, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” and Hosea 13 when he says, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The passage in Isaiah is comforting because in it God promises that in the Crucifixion by the loving self-sacrifice of Jesus at the mountain of Golgotha, Mount Calvary at Jerusalem, He, “the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And He will swallow up on [that] mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and,” as Isaiah then says, “the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth,”[5] We hear echoes of this in the book of Revelation where St. John writes how it will be in the resurrection on The Last Day, saying, how God “will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”[6] For you then in this coming new heavens and new earth the scars of your former life will pass away. The scars of sin, the scars of the fallen world with its accidents and diseases and evils, the scars you carry because of the sins that have been perpetrated against you, all of this will pass away. Your scars exchanged for the wounds Jesus took upon Himself. In the same passage of the Book of Revelation Jesus says, “Behold, I am making all things new.”[7]

The trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised by Christ Jesus imperishable, and we shall be changed by God for this perishable body which you now have must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality which is yours in Christ Jesus by His blood and by His great love for you. This is our hope as Christians, we hold to this hope because of God’s word and promise. Now a little earlier in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians St. Paul writes to the congregation in Corinth, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” Meaning if the resurrection of Christ is not true we are all misguided souls. Questions about whether or not we will have scars in heaven and what our resurrected bodies might be like in the resurrection then are pointless … but as Paul says “in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, [and this Jesus is] the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep,” the first of the ones who have been raised to the kind of eternal life that we will share in for all Eternity as Christians. In our Service this morning you have heard just a snippet of 1 Corinthians 15, and would that we could have heard more, because this is a most wonderful part of God’s Holy Word, in this passage we also hear St. Paul write, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to [St. Peter], then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, [Jesus] appeared also to me,”[8] St. Paul writes. Go home today and read the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 15 and while you’re at it keep reading Scripture day by day, if you do not do this now start. You will be glad you did. Take some advice start with the Gospel of St. Mark read a chapter a day and you will have the whole Gospel read in 16 days. Come to Pr. Albrecht and I with your questions and we will help you along The Way. You will have question, everyone does …   

The Corinthians who were mainly Greek Christians likewise had questions. They had questions about the nature of the resurrection is why Paul wrote chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians. They were struggling with the influences of the Word around them; they were clearly influenced by the Greek culture of their times, their Greek poets and philosophers and historians taught that at death, only a person’s soul was taken by the ferryman across the River Styx to the gloomy world of the shades, to Hades. This is what was commonly believed in the Greco-Roman world as the life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus was first being preached by men like St. Paul. This however in not unique to the Greeks the idea that the soul survived death in a shadowy, unhappy existence has been common to most non-Christian cultures, even highly advanced cultures like those of ancient Egypt and Greece. Only Christianity has been brightened by the promised hope of a physical resurrection of the body[9] for all who believe.

What about today? There are poets and artist, philosophers and thinkers, and now even modern scientist and academics who will tell you that you have no soul at all, that all you have is your body for today and when you die there is nothing; and there are poets and artist, philosophers and thinkers, scientist and academics who envision a continuation of life by artificial means that would see your “soul” continued, housed in something that is not exactly your body, a clone, a computer hard drive, or some other kind of storage device: Neither of these ideas are what Scripture teaches. Such things are not counted as true by St. Paul as you read 1 Corinthians chapter 15 or by St. John in his Gospel account of Jesus’ resurrection or in the Revelation of St. John or in the Gospel of St. Luke or anywhere else in God’s Word.

So while the questions and concerns may be a little different today for some people in our society when it comes to the doctrine, the teaching of the resurrection of the dead, there are still questions. You may have questions, your friends and family may have questions: if you do, if they do, where do you turn? If they ask, “will I still have brown hair in the resurrection? Will I recognize my loved ones? Will there be food to eat and drinks to drink? Will I have a body? What will it be like? Will I still have my scars?” When questions such as these come up to whom can your turn? Where can you turn? Turn to God’s Word. Turn to the Church that Jesus established by men like St. Bartholomew and St. John and the rest of the Apostles, turn to St. Paul and the Prophet Isaiah of the Old Testament and to St. Luke and the other Evangelists, the ones through whom God’s Word was delivered, the Word of God that has been maintained and passed down through the generations.             

Does it change anything about the way you live your life today when you know that your body will be risen imperishable when Jesus “delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power,” on The Last Day? Does trusting and putting your hope in Jesus and His Word when it comes to your future resurrection change anything now? When you sing “I know that my Redeemer Lives” does it follow that we should ask, “What kind of people ought we to be in Him, in this risen Lord Jesus?” St. Paul says yes, yes it does matter, yes this is a good question to ask. He says when you know this to be true, when this is your confession of faith, when you believe it, you then as a Christian, are to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.”[10] Jesus says, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.”[11] As you then set out to live your life in service to God and neighbour remember, we are not renewed perfectly in this life[12] and it is the Holy Spirit that renews the heart[13] this is not something you muster up on your own. If you do good out of fear of breaking the Law of God you are still under its burden, but you dear Christian, because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus are actually free to serve God and neighbour with a “cheerful spirit.” You can do this because such works when they are no longer counted against or toward you Salvation, because Jesus has already won Eternal life and forgiveness for you, are actually the “fruits of the Spirit.”[14] And as St. Paul writes “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things,” St. Paul teaches, “there is no law.”[15] When you act in this way there will be no scars.

Had Jesus been treated with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness when He road into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey that first Holy Week, had the law of God been followed in such a way from Adam and Eve to you and me then Jesus would have no scars, no nail marks in His hands and feet no pierced side, for there would have been no need for them. When we as Christians treat each other and our neighbours in the World in this way we reflect the love of God to a World in desperate need of God’s love. Jesus lived this way and because He did so without fault you are saved. You then are free to strive for a life lived in Christian virtues, free to live a life where you forgive the sins that scar you and strive to keep from scaring others by sin. With hearts turned always toward Jesus you can live a life trusting that all that belongs to Jesus is now yours, what He has in His resurrection is promised to you and it is yours as well.  Amen.

Let us pray:

Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] Philippians 3:21
[2] Isaiah 49:16
[3] Revelation 5:6
[4] John 20:20, 24-29
[5] Isaiah 25:6–8
[6] Revelation 21:4
[7] Revelation 21:5
[8] Corinthians 15:3–8
[9] 1 Corinthians Concordia Commentary, by Gregory J. Lockwood, Concordia Publishing House 2000, Pg. 560-61.
[10] 1 Corinthians 15:58
[11] John 9:4
[12] Concordia The Lutheran Confessions, A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, Formula of Concord Article VI. The Third Use of The Law, Concordia Publishing House 2005, Pg 794 [7].
[13] Ibid, Pg 795 [11]
[14] Ibid, Pg 797 [17]
[15] Galatians 5:22–23