1 Corinthians 15:51-57
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 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.
We use the word “mystery” differently from the way the Bible does. We might think about a mystery novel, where a private detective must piece together the clues to solve the mystery. By the end, the detective has found the guilty party and justice is done. That’s not the way the Bible uses the word, “mystery.”
In 1 Corinthians 15, mystery means knowledge that must be revealed by someone who already knows. It’s a secret. For example, reading is a mystery that must be revealed to learn how to do it. Anyone who has taught preschoolers how to recognize their letters understands this. They must help them recognize the shapes, and they ask what kinds of sounds each letter makes. The teacher has to reveal what the ink on the paper means.
The resurrection is that kind of mystery. When Jesus returns, he will change our mortal bodies into immortal bodies. He will make our perishable flesh imperishable. There will be no more sickness or death, no more sadness or hurt. There will only be resurrection and eternal life.
There’s no microscope that can see the resurrection or a chemical test to find it. We can’t break up an atom to understand it or stare out into the stars to find it. The resurrection must be revealed to us.
That’s what Jesus’ resurrection does. Because he died on the cross and rose from the dead, he reveals to us our own resurrection on the last day. He is the pattern for what will happen on the day he returns.