As surely as we know that we will die, by faith in Christ we know that we will rise again in glory. Christ is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:19-21) Just as was the case with Christ and his body, our bodies will be restored, never to die again. “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26) We will stand before God on the Last Day, made perfect in body and in soul, and justified by the merits of the Son through whom we gained all of these blessings.
December can be a hard month. It does not lack for jolly opportunities. People hang cheerful lights to brighten the early nights. Families gather together. We are surrounded by reminders of Christ’s birth and the blessing that he brings. We might sing special songs in church. We listen to Handel’s Messiah.
But as the years pass, those happy occasions can also bring memories of loss. I know this personally, having lost my dad in December several years ago.
My favorite part of Messiah is Part Three. After the triumphant chorus of Hallelujahs at the end of Part Two, the music slows and we hear:
“I know that my Redeemer liveth,
and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.
And though worms destroy this body,
yet in my flesh shall I see God.
For now is Christ risen from the dead,
the first-fruits of them that sleep.”
Christ’s person and work are the root of all Christian hopes. This is the mystery of the Incarnation. The eternal Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, was born as the son of Mary. He shares our entire nature, body and soul, sin alone excepted. The eternal, fully divine Son now has a human mind, a human will, and a human’s experience of time. As we read in Hebrews, “in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” (Hebrews 2:17 NKJV) How this all works together has not been fully revealed to us.
What has been revealed to us is that Jesus shared in every part of human life. He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52) Our great High Priest learned obedience as a man. (Hebrews 5:8) Indeed, it is only as a man that Christ possesses a will distinct from the Father’s. We know he celebrated at one wedding at least, even providing the wine. We also know that he wept at a funeral for a friend. Jesus labored. He traveled across the land during his ministry. He rejoiced when he saw faith, and he was angry when he saw hardness of heart. He taught, he debated, he admonished, and he prayed. He died at the hands of sinners, but death could not keep him. He rose from the dead in triumph, the shame of cross and grave transformed