4th Sunday of Easter – B LSB #’s 421:1-2, 5, 465, 672
Text – Acts 4:1-2
As they were speaking to the people, the priests & the captain of the temple & the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people & proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
WHOLENESS IN BODY & SOUL
About two months ago this headline was popping up on the internet: Want to live forever? You just have to make it to [the year] 2050. The tag line said, “If you’re under 40 reading this article, you’re probably not going to die unless you get a nasty disease.” How many of you out there are under 40? I’m already 58 years old so I guess I won’t be joining you.
Dr. Ian Pearson, an esteemed futurologist, told The Sun, which is a tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom, that humans are very close to achieving immortality. Here’s his list of the ways you could live forever:
#1: Renewing your body parts
#2: Living in android bodies
#3: Living in a virtual world
Regarding #1, he says: “No one wants to live forever at 95 years old, but if you could rejuvenate the body to 29 or 30, you might want to do that. Many scientists around the world are working on creating human organs using 3D printers loaded with living cells, which could one day make human organ donors redundant.”
Regarding #2 – living in android bodies – Dr. Pearson remarks, “Before we get to fix our body & rejuvenate it, every time we feel like, we’ll be able to link our mind to the machine world so well, we will effectively be living in the cloud, & be able to use any android we feel like to inhabit the real world.
You’d still be able to use your digital mind – stored on a computer – & live in the world
using highly realistic robot bodies. If you wanted to spend the evening in Australia, going to the Sydney opera house, you could use an android. He explains that we’ll have to wait until "2045, 2050" before we’ll be able to create these strong brain-to-machine links. The cost will be very high initially, but the price will gradually come down.”
Regarding #3 – living in a virtual world – Dr. Pearson asked, “But if our minds are online, do we even need robot bodies? We could all just live in a computer simulation quite happily. You could spend most of your time online in the virtual world, of course anywhere in the world on any computer, even in multiple places at once.”
He summarizes by saying, “The tricky bit is surviving until the technology becomes widely available. By 2050, it will only really be for the rich & famous. Most people on middle-class incomes & reasonable working-class incomes can probably afford this in the 2060s.”
The point of that whole introduction is to highlight the best that mankind has to offer today as a solution for death. Going back to the year 1969, an American pop-rock duo, by the name of Zager & Evans, came up with these ideas. They sound eerily similar to the predictions of Dr. Ian Pearson, yet in a catchy lyrical form.
In the year 2525 If man is still alive If woman can survive They may find-
In the year 3535 Ain’t gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies Everything you think, do, & say Is in the pill you took today
In the year 4545 Ain’t gonna need your teeth, won’t need your eyes You won’t find a thing to chew Nobody’s gonna look at you
In the year 5555 Your arms are hanging limp at your side Your legs got nothing to do Some machine’s doing that for you
In the year 6565 Ain’t gonna need no husband, won’t need no wife You’ll pick
your sons, pick your daughters too From the bottom of a long glass tube Whoa-oh-oh
In the year 7510 If God’s a-coming, he ought to make it by then Maybe he’ll look around himself & say “Guess it’s time for the judgement day!”
In the year 8510 God is gonna shake his mighty head He’ll either say, “I’m pleased, where man has been” Or tear it down & start again Whoa-oh-oh
In the year 9595 I’m kinda wondering, if man is gonna be alive He’s taken everything this old Earth can give And he ain’t put back nothing Whoa-oh-oh
Now it’s been ten thousand years Man has cried a billion tears For what he never knew Now man’s reign is through But through the eternal night The twinkling of starlight So very far away Maybe it’s only yesterday…
Those lyrics were written way back in 1969 when medical technology was still in the dark ages, relative to our time, but they don’t sound nearly as optimistic as the words of Dr. Pearson, the esteemed futurologist. The words of Zager & Evans sound eerily similar to the predictions of Dr. Pearson, but without the ‘rose-colored glasses’ tone.
Dr. Pearson sounds a bit like a quack, with his conclusion regarding what happens when everyone’s brain is downloaded to a computer, “We could all just live in a computer simulation quite happily.” Have you seen anywhere that all people just live together happily? Zager & Evans seem to have a much more realistic appreciation for mankind’s potential.
In the reading from the 4th chapter in the book of Acts, we find the same contrasting attitudes concerning mankind’s future potential. One is a very hopeful response to a medical miracle & the other is quite the opposite:
“As [Peter & John] were speaking to the people, the priests & the captain of the temple & the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people & proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them & put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.” (Acts 4:1-3 ESV) Now, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection from the dead, for anyone, so they had to shut down this kind of hopeful & optimistic preaching. Here, children of God find that the tables have turned.
Christian teaching often is more in line with the pessimism of Zager & Evans than it is with the optimism of Dr. Pearson, but when it comes to the resurrection from the dead the followers of Jesus come down squarely on the side of optimism, even if it appears to be a ‘rose-colored glasses’ viewpoint. The difference is Jesus!
When God became a human being He took on the dust of His own creation & once He rose from the dead that dust would never be the same. In spite of all the brokenness, suffering & death that we see or experience, there is a glorious hope awaiting each one of us who trusts in the God of dust. When Jesus became human He became the God of dust.
We began the season of Lent with the phrase, “From dust you came & to dust you shall return” but that dust is no longer the same. When Jesus ascended to heaven, He did so in order to rule over heaven & earth, & one of the things He’s doing there is restoring the dust of His creation. When the Last Day arrives that process will be finished, completed & perfected.
All who believe in Jesus as Savior from sin will receive complete wholeness in body & soul. In the book of Acts our heavenly Father gives us a preview of this when He uses Peter to heal a man who’d been lame from birth. “And leaping up he stood & began to walk, & entered the temple with [Peter & John], walking & leaping & praising God.” (Acts 3:8 ESV)
And that man was still infected with sin. Imagine how you will feel when you enter heaven for the 1st time. You see, the resurrection is so much more than just being raised from the dead. It is being raised to an entirely new life that you have never known before… and we are only in the barest of the beginning stages. Christians frequently have a narrow understanding of “salvation.” Often, it consists of no more than “forgiveness of sins” right now & “eternal life” after we die. Moreover, sometimes these are understood as spiritual, but not physical blessings. From today’s reading in Acts 4, we learn that salvation is a matter of both body & soul.
All the dust of God’s creation is being recreated, except for that particular dust that rejects Him, those being the unbelievers. Their bodies will be raised, but they will never be whole, not in body or soul. Jesus came as the Good Shepherd that He might herd His sheep away from the cliff & toward the still waters.
Jesus came because He knew of our weakness. He came because He knew that one day death would take each one of us. Jesus took on the dust of His creation in human flesh that He might Himself shepherd us through the valley of the shadow of death. His purpose for us is that one day we will be whole in body & soul, for all of eternity. Amen.
Eternal is the gift He brings, therefore our heart with rapture sings: “Christ has triumphed! He is living!” Now still He comes to give us life & by His presence stills all strife. O fill us, Lord, with dauntless love; set heart & will on things above that we conquer through Your triumph; grant grace sufficient for life’s day that by our lives we truly say: “Christ has triumphed! He is living!” Alleluia! Amen. LSB 465:2-3.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet