Celestial Life
Friday of Easter 6
26 May 2017
Knowing the resurrection of the flesh comforts us Christians as we suffer with the debilitations of our human flesh in daily life. When we undergo sickness such as cancer with all of its threat to our life and future, we feel the weight of our own decaying existence. We question our ability to bear the burden that the Lord sends to us. We feel betrayed by our body. Adam and Eve both felt this burden, although they felt it for a longer time having had a longer temporal life. Eternality is not all its cracked up to be, if it is not lived in the new flesh like unto Christ's. A continually decaying existence without a full stop at the end is indeed a horrible thing to contemplate. Our lives are exactly like that of Adam, even if shorter, but still filled with eating and drinking, house and home, clothing and shoes, fields, cattle and all our goods. That, however, must come to an end.
While that feeling of our decay and the burdens of this life is real, more real yet are the promises of God. When we are suffering and feeling burdened by our body it is extremely powerful to know that the Lord of life promises a resurrected life, in which he will take the burdens and sufferings of the body away from us. The Lord's new life becomes ours. That life is not burdened as ours now is. There is no attachment to the affairs of this world and no need of them. We will have a body with none of the needs and weaknesses that now weigh it down. Sin is the ultimate problem here. Without it, the body would not have and experience these debilitations.
Our Lord Jesus Christ has taken care of all that in His glorious resurrection. His resurrection raises our body in Him, and cures the bodily weakness that we experience daily (Ps 103:3; Is 53:5). We will have a body with a celestial character. We will never hunger or thirst, because our hunger will be satisfied by the bread of life and our thirst will be slaked from the cup of the New Testament in His blood. We will never seek shelter, for Christ himself will be our home. We will never seek clothing, for the righteousness of Christ will be our covering. Earthly goods will be of no value, for our hearts will be set upon the only true treasure. This is the celestial life.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"Paul calls Adam the first terrestrial man but Christ the first celestial Man (1Co 15:48-49). He makes them both our prototypes and concludes that we must all become like the celestial Man, Christ, as we are now like the first terrestrial man, etc. But the words 'as was the man of dust' and 'as is the man of heaven' must not be understood as referring to the sin of the first man, Adam, which we inherited from him, as several have interpreted this, nor to the righteousness which Christ possesses and which we receive from Him. No, we will remain with the meaning with which Paul began to speak here. For here he does not treat of our relationship over against God by reason of our sins or our piety, but solely of the natural and the spiritual life of the body.
"Therefore this is in brief the opinion. Just as Adam lived the natural life with the five senses and all sorts of natural functions of the body, so all of his children from the beginning of the world to its end live, one just like the other. For the words 'the image of the man of dust' mean that we all bear with us the same form and essence and live and do in every respect as Adam and Eve lived and did. They led the same kind of life, they ate, drank, digested, eliminated, froze, wore clothes, etc., as we do. Therefore, in external aspects there was no observable difference between them and us. Later, however, we shall divest ourselves of that image and essence and receive another's, namely, the celestial Christ's. Then we shall have the same form and essence which He now has since His resurrection. Then we need no longer eat, drink, sleep, walk, stand, etc., but will live without any creatural necessities. The entire body will be as pure and bright as the sun and as light as the air, and, finally, so healthy, so blissful, and filled with such heavenly, eternal joy in God that it will never hunger, thirst, grow weary, or decline.
"That will indeed be a far different and an immeasurably more glorious image than the present one. And what we bear there will be far different from what we bear here. There will be no dissatisfaction, no annoyances, no hardships to bear, such as we have in this lazy, lame image, where we must bear and drag this heavy, indolent paunch about with us, lift it, and have it led. No, there it will swish through all the heavens as swiftly and lightly as lightning and soar over the clouds among the dear angels. St. Paul was intent on impressing these thoughts on us so that we might accustom ourselves already to rising into that life by faith and remember what we are hoping and wishing and praying for when we recite the article: I believe in the resurrection, not only of the spirit, as the heretics said, but also of that very flesh, or body, which we bear on our necks. We believe that it, too, will become a celestial, spiritual body. For what St. Paul discusses in this entire chapter with so many words is only an explanation of this article. He teaches nothing but what these two words contain and convey: 'resurrection of the flesh.'"

Martin Luther, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15, 49
John 20:11-18

Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"- and that he had said these things to her. (ESV)
Living Lord Jesus, grant that we might place our lives in Your hands to use as You would see fit. Give life to us who have lived in the shadow of death. Help us to share this life through our confession of Your indestructible life that many more might share with us the celestial life. Amen.
For John Fale, as he leads LCMS International Mission, that the Lord would continue to bless his leadership with success
For Vicar-designate Kyle Richardson, who was assigned to Memorial Lutheran Church and School as vicar, that he might be prepared to serve the church in his calling
For those who serve others in restaurants, that they would have joy in their calling
Art: GAROFALO,  Ascension of Christ (1510-1520)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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