It’s true. I like to be second, but not for the altruistic reasons you might imagine. The person who goes first doesn’t know what’s about to happen. The first person to cliff jump is mostly sure the water is deep enough. The first person to taste the exotic food is mostly sure it won’t induce sickness. And yes, some people crave the risk, but I find my enjoyment most unhindered in the absence of fear. When others go first, I can observe and prepare my expectation. It is the privilege of being second . . . and that . . . is exactly how I feel about death.
When we sit at a funeral and begin to wonder exactly what happens when our heart stops beating, we might find comfort in songs or parables, but we can’t find clarity. When it comes to the resurrection, trusting in human opinion is like standing in line for a movie premier and asking the person behind you if the movie is any good. They don’t know. They haven’t seen it either. When it comes to the resurrection, we simply need to look at the one who went first, and there is only one. Jesus will teach us what to anticipate. His experience will frame our expectation.
In I Corinthians 15:20, Paul says, “[Christ] is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.” In John 13:36, Jesus tells Peter, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” When we are faced with the questions of death, meditating on Christ’s resurrection is the road to hope. What happened to Christ, will one day happen to us. This is why every Christian should be well acquainted with the full story of Christ’s resurrection.
If Christ was raised with a new body that could still eat and touch and embrace, we should expect the same. If Christ was able to recognize the people He knew before his resurrection (and was able to reveal to them his identity), we should expect the same. If Christ’s new body was (and is) a new permanent dwelling for all eternity in and out of time, we should expect the same. In Colossians 1:18, Paul promises that Christ is “first in everything,” and I am so thankful for that. He has lead the way for all who believe, and for me . . . I like to be second.