Spiritual Flesh
Tuesday of Easter 7
30 May 2017
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1Co 15:50) in so far as it is merely flesh and blood. Old Adam must meet his final demise at the death of the body. The Bible uses the term "flesh and blood" to describe depraved humanity and as such it will never enter the kingdom of God. What then of the resurrection of the flesh?  How can the flesh be raised if it cannot inherit the kingdom?
 
First, all persons shall rise from the dead on the last day; some to everlasting life with Christ, others to eternal shame and everlasting contempt (Acts 24:15). Not every person who is raised from the dead will inherit the kingdom. All who are raised are flesh. However, they do not inherit the kingdom on the basis of their fleshly nature. Flesh cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Yet, Paul tells us that we shall inherit a "spiritual body" at the resurrection (1Co 15:44). Not mere flesh inherits the kingdom but body and flesh made new, made spiritual through baptism into Christ and into His kingdom.
 
Second, the spiritual body with which we are raised is still a body of flesh, albeit spiritual flesh. "How can this be?" you say. Of course, God can accomplish what He sees fit. It is a mystery of God (1Co 15:51). Unfortunately, the devil has insinuated into our ears the lie that flesh cannot be spiritual. For a thing to be truly spiritual it must not be flesh, according to the demonic definition. The resurrected Lord Jesus, although still flesh and blood, was not constrained by fleshly boundaries, but was purely spiritual. He ate and drank with His disciples (Lk 24:40-43) and invited them to touch Him (Jn 20:27) to see that he was flesh and bone, not a ghost (Lk 24:39). His was a truly spiritual flesh. Ours will be too.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
 
"If someone were to say in view of St. Paul's declaration that 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God' (1Co 15:50) that only the soul, or the spirit, and not the body will arise, as a number of heretics concluded, he is directly contradicting St. Paul's doctrine throughout this whole chapter. For Paul does not say that the body will not rise, but that 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.' And behold what asses and impudent fools they are who arrive at this strained interpretation. The text clearly states that it 'cannot inherit the kingdom of God.' They flit over this and see only the words 'flesh and blood' and no more. Then they add their own ideas and say that flesh and blood will not rise. St. Paul never intended to say that nor could he say that, because he stated so plainly and clearly in the text immediately preceding this one that a true spiritual body will rise. No, he says that flesh and blood does not belong in God's kingdom. Christ Himself says that too in John 3.
 
"It is one thing to rise physically or with flesh and blood and a far different thing to enter God's kingdom, or heaven. For also Judas, Caiaphas, and all the damned will rise physically, but they will not enter God's kingdom. And what could be clearer than St. Paul's words, which state that flesh and blood, which is sinful now, cannot come into heaven? As Christ also says: 'Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God,' for 'that which is born of the flesh is flesh' (Jn 3:3, 6). But the flesh and blood which is baptized in Christ, even though it once was flesh and blood, is now never called flesh and blood, for it is born anew of the Spirit. In a natural way it is flesh and blood, but not spiritually, because it has been purified by Christ in Baptism and received into God's kingdom. Therefore it can no longer simply be called flesh and blood, except in an external and physical sense. For the term flesh and blood really applies to the old man in accordance with reason, as descended from flesh and blood, who no longer knows or understands anything, who is without faith and God's Word and without Christ. Thus Christ says to Peter in Matthew 16: 'Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, etc.' (Mt 16:17). Therefore it does not belong in the kingdom of God. But it does not follow by any means, nor can we conclude from this, that flesh and blood will not arise on the Last Day. The reverse must rather be deduced from this. For precisely because flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God, it must end, die, and decay and rise in a new spiritual essence, so that it may enter heaven. Therefore St. Paul admonishes them as Christians to be such new men, lest they be found to be flesh and blood on that Day."

Martin Luther, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15, 50
Matthew 25:31-46

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.  Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?'  And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'  
 
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'  Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?'  Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (
ESV)
Prayer
Lord Christ, send us the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, that we might confess the truth of the holy Trinity, neither confusing the persons, nor dividing the substance. Amen.

For the family of Daniel Moriarity, whom the Lord called to His nearer presence, that the Lord who called His child into His kingdom with grant them faith in Christ and hope in His resurrection

For Ganet and Solomon Chafamo Abiye, who had a child born prematurely, that the God of all grace would preserve the child and give healing to Ganet
 
For veterans of the armed forces, that they would receive the care and support they require after serving faithfully to protect our liberty
 
For President Dan Gard of the Concordia University Chicago, that he would be strengthened as he leads the university
 
For all those who drive over the road trucks for a living, that the Lord would send His holy angels to watch over them and protect them
Art: GAROFALO,  Ascension of Christ (1510-1520)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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