Philippians 3:21, "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."
This morning, many things garner our attention from time to time. Work calls. The family needs attention. However, in all the affairs and business of life, one thought should stay with us prominently on a daily basis. That thought revolves around the resurrection and the life and world to come. Without keeping these thoughts prominently in view, life would become a tangled mess of toil and overmuch sorrow. Paul summed it up succinctly in I Corinthians 15:19 as "of all men most miserable" should we have no hope or joy about something beyond this life and its vale of sorrow. Much of that world to come and the experience of the resurrection goes beyond our ability to comprehend. As finite creatures within fallen faculties of nature, we fail to grasp the sweeping grandeur of immediate change, ascension, and glory in a moment with all the people of God together. Thinking of the elements melting and burning away in a snap goes beyond our mind's conception to fully understand. Finally, being in endless satisfaction boggles the mind, though it does resonate beautifully within the new man.
Some verses of Scripture get misquoted often, and most of the time, the misquotation – though wrong – does not altogether injure the thought or intention of the verse. However, some misquotations actually damage the true heart and soul of the verse's intent. More often than not, the misquotation is a simple oversight, but it still damages the thought nonetheless. Our study verse is often misquoted, and I have been guilty of misquoting it myself perhaps many more times than I realize. In this case, though, I believe that most of the misquotation comes from a general English principle to keep subject and object agreement the same. For example, if you have a singular subject of the sentence, you would have a singular object, and the same principle would apply to plural subjects and plural objects.
How often has this verse been misquoted, "who shall change our vile bodies?" It is a simple thing to do. Since the subject is "our" in the plural sense, we automatically want to make the object plural as well: "bodies." However, Paul's point is rather sublime when seen in its actual form. Christ shall change our vile "body" and fashion it like unto His glorious body. At this point in time, one might wonder, "What's the point of all this talk about whether the text says body or bodies? Isn't the point that all of us will be raised at the end of time?" Indeed, the thought that we shall all be raised is the main thought of the resurrection, but Paul peels back the view of the resurrection to give us extra comfort and consolation about the scene.
How many children of God are there? The Bible declares the number to be an innumerable host of people comparable to the stars of heaven or the sand of the seashore. What will that look like! What glory must be abundantly manifest in that scene! Still, how will that affect us individually? I recall a story from my youth that stuck with me. At an associational meeting, one of the ministers that spoke made this glorious point about the personal nature of our Saviour, "Though there are countless millions of God's children that Christ came to die for and save, He would have done the same thing had you been the only one." His point ss that Christ loves each one of us personally, not just as some group. Paul declared the same point to the Galatian brethren in 2:20 when he repeats the word "me" to talk of Christ's love and sacrifice.
Translate that thought to the resurrection, and we have Paul's sublime point. When He comes to get your body, He is coming personally for you. Even if you were the only one that He was coming for, the experience would be identical to the one that you will experience. His raising of your body will be personal. He will not simply pass by waving His hand to open the graves. His face and appearance will be at each one, as each of us will be raised by His voice speaking to us personally. No one will have a richer or poorer experience than the other. He is raising all of our vile "body" on an individual basis and through personal love and compassion. Friends, I really do not know how to imagine the sight, but my experience of the majesty of the Lord and feeling His personal fondness towards me will match identically with your experience on that day. We will each feel like He came for us singularly and specially. Each of our bodies will be given the same care and devotion to come forth matching His. Yes, we will have identity just as stars do differ from each other, but each of our "body" will be given personal attention in the fashioning like the Lord's glorious and majestic body.
This personal nature of the resurrection is what gives that extra special thought of comfort during the weary journey of life. We have a Saviour that loves each one of us individually, and He will raise each and every one of us individually and personally in a moment and flashing instant. That immediate and personal transformation will then lend itself to personal fellowship and attention with the Master. Consider another of Paul's glorious thoughts in Colossians 3:4. When He appears in that instant, we shall all appear "with Him." That phrase "with Him" can literally be rendered "alongside." How is it that each one of us (the untold thousands of millions of the family of God) will equally share in the fellowship alongside Christ? How will there be room for all? Again, our finite minds cannot fathom the experience, but rest assured friends, you will not have to "wait in line" for your turn with Jesus. Just as He raised you personally and specially, so also will you have that personal place alongside Him without being behind anyone else.
Sometimes the mind's reflections and meditations of this event simply melt away due to utter lack to comprehend and see it fully. However, the resurrection and its associated glory is truly the best thing to turn the mountains of life into molehills. What can compare to it? What can prevent it? As the songwriter eloquently said about that scene, "Imagination's utmost stretch in wonder dies away." No matter how glorious and majestic you can imagine it to be, the reality will make the imaginary version from your mind just fade away into insignificance. While in this flesh, I am not fully able to see this as I want or ought, but I like to think of the moment when I hear Him call to my faded ruins of dust and say, "Philip, come forth." Then, as my changed eyes open for the first time in immortality, I see His glorious face and glorified body, while I joyfully take position next to Him to ride the power of His love and might into that city that never sleeps and pain is felt no more.