Friday of the Week of Advent I
Based on 1 Corinthians 15:35-49
One of the greatest struggles in life has to do with death — what is resurrection like? What will we be like when we are resurrected? Will we know our loved ones? Will they know us? Paul anticipated our questions, and perhaps those in Corinth were already asking, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” Paul may well have considered us “foolish” for asking these questions, but our questions remain! Death and resurrection remain a mystery, and we would like to have answers.
In the midst of Advent, it is worth a little time to consider these questions. Unfortunately, Paul doesn’t provide answers to every question and the answers he does provide may be less than satisfying. There are several things which may be said, however.
Paul reminds us that our earthly, natural bodies are of one kind, while our spiritual, resurrection bodies will be another. We see that in the resurrection of our Lord, who was raised, with noticeable features on His body, yet, it appears, without the limits of time and space. In other words, Jesus could show the marks of crucifixion on His hands and side, but He could appear behind closed doors. Will our resurrection bodies be the same? We will have to wait and see. It is clear, however, that while Jesus’ disciples were not expecting to see Him risen from death, once He got their attention, they recognized Him, acknowledging, “It is the Lord!” (John 21:7) What matters, finally, is not whether our loved ones will recognize us, but whether the Lord knows us and will take us to Himself! As the Lord promises, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:14). He continues, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life…” (John 10:27-28).
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, because you live, give me hope and confidence that I, too, will be raised to new life with you. Amen.
Advent action: Send a card or note to a friend, family member or member of your congregation who has lost a loved one to death since last Christmas, reminding them of the hope of the resurrection!
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about Blessed is He Who Comes, visit thenalc.org/advent.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
5:13 Therefore my people will be deported
because of their lack of understanding.
Their leaders will have nothing to eat,
their masses will have nothing to drink.
14So Death will open up its throat,
and open wide its mouth;
Zion’s dignitaries and masses will descend into it,
including those who revel and celebrate within her.
15Men will be humiliated,
they will be brought low;
the proud will be brought low.
16The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will be exalted when he punishes,
the holy God’s authority will be recognized when he judges.
17Lambs will graze as if in their pastures,
amid the ruins the rich sojourners will graze.
18Beware, those who pull evil along using cords of emptiness are as good as dead,
who pull sin as with cart ropes.
19They say, “Let him hurry, let him act quickly,
so we can see;
let the plan of the Holy One of Israel take shape and come to pass,
then we will know it!”
20Beware, those who call evil good and good evil,
who turn darkness into light and light into darkness,
who turn bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter.
21Beware, those who think they are wise,
those who think they possess understanding.
22Beware, those who are champions at drinking,
who display great courage when mixing strong drinks.
23They pronounce the guilty innocent for a payoff,
they ignore the just cause of the innocent.
24Therefore, as flaming fire devours straw,
and dry grass disintegrates in the flames,
so their root will rot,
and their flower will blow away like dust.
For they have rejected the law of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
they have spurned the commands of the Holy One of Israel.
25So the Lord is furious with his people;
he lifts his hand and strikes them.
The mountains shake,
and corpses lie like manure in the middle of the streets.
Despite all this, his anger does not subside,
and his hand is ready to strike again.
26He lifts a signal flag for a distant nation,
he whistles for it to come from the far regions of the earth.
Look, they come quickly and swiftly.
27None tire or stumble,
they don’t stop to nap or sleep.
They don’t loosen their belts,
or unstrap their sandals to rest.
28Their arrows are sharpened,
and all their bows are prepared.
The hooves of their horses are hard as flint,
and their chariot wheels are like a windstorm.
29Their roar is like a lion’s;
they roar like young lions.
They growl and seize their prey;
they drag it away and no one can come to the rescue.
30At that time they will growl over their prey,
it will sound like sea waves crashing against rocks.
One will look out over the land and see the darkness of disaster,
clouds will turn the light into darkness.(NET Bible)
128:1 A song of ascents.
How blessed is every one of the Lord’s loyal followers,
each one who keeps his commands!
2You will eat what you worked so hard to grow.
You will be blessed and secure.
3Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
in the inner rooms of your house;
your children will be like olive branches,
as they sit all around your table.
4Yes indeed, the man who fears the Lord
will be blessed in this way.
5May the Lord bless you from Zion,
that you might see Jerusalem prosper
all the days of your life,
6and that you might see your grandchildren.
May Israel experience peace!(NET Bible)
1 Cor. 15:35–49
15:35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36Fool! What you sow will not come to life unless it dies. 37And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare seed – perhaps of wheat or something else. 38But God gives it a body just as he planned, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 39All flesh is not the same: People have one flesh, animals have another, birds and fish another. 40And there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. The glory of the heavenly body is one sort and the earthly another. 41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon and another glory of the stars, for star differs from star in glory.
42It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living person”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46However, the spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust, and like the one from heaven, so too those who are heavenly. 49And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven.(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
[Luther writes]: “It is a notorious error to believe that by a statement such as this, ‘It is not permitted to explain Scripture by one’s own spirit’ (proprio spiritu) we are called upon to put the holy Scripture aside and to direct our attention to the commentaries of men and believe them. is explanation, I maintain, is doubtlessly invented by Satan himself that by that means he might lead us far away from Scripture and into a desperate understanding of Scripture. On the contrary, this statement wants to say that Scripture is to be understood alone through that spirit by whom it is written, which spirit you can nd more present and alive nowhere than in this holy Scripture written by him. Therefore, our endeavor must be not to put aside Scripture and to direct our attention to the human writings of the Fathers, but to spend all the more and all the more persistent labor alone on the holy Scripture, all the more since there is great danger that one might understand it with his own spirit, in order that the employment of such persistent labor might overcome that danger and finally assure us of the spirit of the Scripture which can be found nowhere else but in Scripture, for ‘here he did put up his tabernacle and in the heavens (that is, the apostles), his dwelling place.’ … Or tell me if you can, who is the judge who finally decides when two statements of the Fathers contradict themselves? Here the judgment of the Scripture decides, and this cannot be done if we do not give Scripture the first place so that Scripture itself is the most certain, the most accessible, the most readily understood which interprets itself and approves, judges, and illumines all (words) of all … as Psalm 118 (119:130) says.” (76–77)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.