Because Christ is risen, we will rise physically.
In every story with a jailbreak, there is one thing everyone is trying to get, one thing everyone is straining and reaching out for, one thing everyone is trying to slide off the hook, one thing everyone is trying to wrench from the guard’s belt: the keys. He who holds the keys has the power of freedom and life.
In the Book of the Revelation of the Apostle John, the risen Jesus appears to John, and he tells him the most amazing thing. Jesus says, “…Fear not, I am the first and the last,  and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18). Jesus alludes to his death and resurrection. He says I was dead, but now I am alive…forevermore! And then there is a pause, and he holds up a set of keys, and he declares he now has the keys to death and the place of the dead.
I love this. This is our hope. Take this image with you!
Picture that hospital room, the family gathered around the bedside. The doctor shakes his head and says they have tried everything. It is only a matter of time now. Jesus walks in that room and holds up a set of keys. Death will not have the last word.
Picture that family huddled around a small grave, praying over a lost little one. Jesus interrupts the prayer with the sound of clanging keys emerging from a pocket. The story will not end at this graveside.
Picture that nursing home room, loved ones now weakened and waiting. There is a knock on the door. Jesus steps in the the room, holding the keys to death. Let’s get out of here he says!
Picture yourself ten years from now. You ache and creak a bit more. You stand in front of the mirror and count the wrinkles. You sigh. There is so much you can’t do anymore. Your body can’t keep up. There was so much you wanted to do, so many places you wanted to go, so many things you wanted to see, so many things you wanted to learn, but you are running out of time. But then you spy in the mirror Jesus stepping out of the shadows behind you with a grin, as he spins a set of keys around his finger. This isn’t the end. The person you see in the mirror is not who you will finally be. You will run again and not get tired. Your strength will be renewed. The risen King has returned with the keys to death in his hand, and he has come to set you free from its chains.
How can this be? Well we already know the answer. The wages of sin is death. But Jesus has paid that penalty with the sacrifice of his perfect life, so death is undone. And now we are offered eternal life in Christ as a free gift (Romans 6:23). You can have the keys.
The Apostle Paul goes into great detail about the physical nature of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. Let me read for you one particularly poignant part. In verses 20 and following, Paul writes, “ But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Cor. 15:20-23). There is a lot of good stuff in these verses, but let me draw your attention to one word: firstfruits. The resurrection of Jesus is the firstfruits of those who have died. This term tells us three things. First, it indicates that his fate is the same as ours. His resurrection is not a different fruit. It is just the first fruit of the same fruit. So, we see in Christ our future state. Second, firstfruit tells us something of the order and timing. We still die because the full harvest has not come in. But, and this is the third thing the term tells us, firstfruits tells us the harvest has already begun! So, we see in the physical resurrection of Jesus what the harvest is and will be.
So the promise of Easter, the joy of our risen Lord, is not just that we are forgiven. Yes, yes, that, but so much more! Easter is the day we remember the dead in Christ will rise! No more sorrow, no more shame! We will rise! The millions dead on a thousand hillsides will rise. And we will live, and we will have our bodies restored, and we will dwell on earth as we were meant to forever with God.
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