by Joe Leavell
If you have ever done any planting or worked with seeds in the slightest, you know that the kernel that you sow in seed form looks very different from the plant that it grows into. For instance, a rose seed looks obviously very different than a rose bush in full bloom.
Scripture uses this analogy in 1 Corinthians 15 when describing our corruptible bodies here on earth compared to our incorruptible bodies that we will receive when we are in heaven. Like seeds that have to be put into the ground and die in order to become the plant, those of us in Christ must remove that which is corruptible in order to put on incorruption. Our bodies will wear out and die, and then when the seed that is in Christ has been planted, it will bloom into something more beautiful than we could imagine.
How do we know this is true? It is because this is exactly what happened to the body of Jesus. Bearing our sin and our shame on the cross, He was placed into the tomb. Three days later, He rose victorious over sin and death, guaranteeing by His resurrection that those who are in Him will also follow Him in rising from the dead into glory.
This year, Easter is a difficult time my entire family and me. As many of you may have already read previously, my older brother, Chris, died in October from melanoma cancer after only a very brief battle.
Easter…He just wanted to get to celebrate the resurrection of his Savior one more time here on earth before meeting Jesus face to face. He spoke of it often, speaking of the hope of the Gospel and his desire to celebrate Christ’s victory with his family one more time. He wanted so badly to celebrate with us the truth that in the midst of his struggles he had reason for hope because of Christ’s resurrection.
It’s a painful Easter, not only because he will not be here with us to celebrate, but also because the hope of the Gospel has become very near to my family, as it has with all of us who have suffered loss through the course of our lives. We have lost the seed kernel of my brother’s body and the personal presence of his companionship. For this, we will continue to mourn for years to come, and knowing that he longed to be with us will make this Easter especially hard.
Remembering the Resurrection at the Empty Tomb
Over the New Year, I had the privilege of accompanying my in-laws on a ten day tour of Israel. While I would recommend everyone take that kind of a tour to Israel, it was especially meaningful so close to the loss of my brother. While I loved every aspect of the tour, I just could not wait to see the empty tomb. For me, it was similar to a person who has something embarrassing or horrible happen to them while out, but determines to keep their emotions in until they get home. Similarly, I was determined not to let go of my emotions until I was at the garden tomb. There, we were able to remember Christ’s sacrifice with communion together, and we celebrated His resurrection at the Garden Tomb where many believe he was buried and rose again.
I lost it. The truth of my brother’s death and the deep pain that had continually bubbled up all along the trip, as well as in recent months, came flowing out as I celebrated my risen Savior. I recalled to my heart that if Christ had not risen from the dead then my brother would have perished forever. However, Jesus really has risen again from the dead! The grave is empty!! Jesus is alive!!!
Because He completely paid the penalty for sin, the grave could not hold any right to Jesus, so He rose again from the dead. Because my brother is in Christ, the grave has no claim on him either, and one day, because of Jesus, we will be able to see the precious incorruptible life that Christ has made of that seed that has been put in the ground. Because of the empty tomb, I will see my brother again!
If you are reading this and you have suffered loss, I can now say reluctantly that I understand what it is to feel the loss of someone very dear to you. It certainly makes Easter especially difficult. But it also makes Easter more beautiful and meaningful than ever before. Those who know that their loved ones have placed their faith and hope in Christ are assured that just as surely as we know that our Savior has been raised again from the dead, our loved ones will also be raised incorruptible.
As Scripture says, “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.” – 1 Cor. 15:54-57 (ESV)
For this reason, I am greatly looking forward to celebrating the resurrection this Easter with my church family. The truth of the resurrection is where I can find the strength to carry on in the hope of the Gospel. I hope and pray that you will also find comfort and hope in the resurrection as you worship with your church family this Sunday.
If you’re curious to see an overview video of my trip to Israel and a few pictures of my brother Chris, visit: