When I read this story on both the NZ Herald and the News.com on-line news and showed my wife of 38 years, we discussed it as it bought to mind many different scenarios.
The NZ Herald identified the location at the Aoraki-Mt Cook National Park by two Spanish climbers with officials saying it is more than likely a 19-year-old man from the South Island who went missing after an avalanche near the top of the glacier on 16 September 1973.
A cornice collapsed above them and swept two away, the older gentleman's body was found but the 19 year old was never discovered in the searches. There are a total of 62 bodies still missing in the national park.
The News.com article revealed a little more, such as the police stated the young man was well preserved (which is not unusual in glacier ice) and I quote: "the body has taken all this time to come down the glacier and out into the open," Senior Constable Brent Swanson from Lake Tekapo police said.
The article went on to explain that Andrew Hobman, an avalanche and alpine safety expert with NZ's Mountain Safety Council, said people who perished in Aoraki Mount Cook national park commonly showed up at the foot of the glacier. "It was pretty amazing to realise he had been up there more than 40 years. That's an incredible journey, long and slow over all those decades, and then it shows up."
Since then more has come to light. The young man's body while well preserved in terms of being locked away in ice for 42 years, it was certainly not in a presentable state as we see those television shows of relatives identifying the body of their loved ones in the morgue.
Nevertheless, in some sense this story reminds me of The Ode recited on ANZAC Day across both Australia and New Zealand with the words "they shall not grow old .... " - as those who fought along side them yet survived and are remembered as they were, young.
Growing up in the 50s and 60s in almost every home were photographs of the young men who did not return after the Great War, photographed in their military uniforms, young and full of life and vibrancy, and that was the way they were remembered.
My wife Delma and I discussed this very thing when reading this article as anyone who knew the 19 year old and should they be asked to view the body, they would inevitably view the body of the young man whom they knew when he was young.
We might be able to look at family photographs throughout our lives and view the normal progression of aging of ourselves but to even try to imagine such a thing upon someone else who had been dead for 42 years is quite something else.
In this article I wish now to move away from those ideas of 'human bodies' to something else quite different.
This new thing is to conjecture as to the Christian's new heavenly bodies might be like as the the Bible is not that precise, it does not say for example, how our new bodies will represent precisely, whether that be as when we die, or at a certain premium age, or anything much really.
But the Bible does say there will no weeping or anguish so we can therefore assume that those who suffered by observable disease, disfigurement, physical disabilities and the like, will appear to those who knew them as beautiful and astonishing.
I've heard many a sermon on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and / or End Times where 'short in stature' preachers have joked saying they have ordered a 6'1" body – a and portly preachers say they have requested a Mr Universe shaped body, Be those jokes as they are – we are told that the old has passed away and something brilliant and fresh and exciting will be ours.
The real essence of ourselves, what scholars refer to as our souls, the real us, will be known and we'll be able to somehow identify each other. Even Jesus hinted at this when asked about the woman who married all the brothers one after the other having died. (Dad joke coming up - as an aside I'm surprised Jesus didn't call in the Midsummer's Chief Superintendent Barnaby "of his day" to ascertain the deaths of all those brothers.)
Two things of interest
Here are two things of interest for the Christian and the Christian family: Jesus was in his prime of life presumably around 33 years of age when he was crucified and died, and three days later resurrected.
My late father a pioneer farmer always saw himself in his mind's eye at that prime age as have I in my mind's eye.
And I seem to appreciate that every aborted festus, every child who died in the womb, every small infant and children and teenages and young people who died will be revealed in this last day with their new bodies – perhaps in somewhere thirties prime stage of life.
This might be a comfort to many as we ponder 2 Corinthians chapter 5, Philippians chapter 3 verse 21 and 1 Corinthians chapter 15. I stutter, so my image is that of joining Moses and Jeremiah with a free flowing tongue.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html