He is Risen!
15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he ‘has put everything under his feet’. Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
Does it really matter what happened to Jesus? Does it matter if Jesus’ body was resurrected from the dead? The apostle Paul says “yes, absolutely it matters. In quite an astonishing passage, Paul comments that, if Jesus did not rise then:
- There is not nothing special about Jesus. (1 Cor.15:13)
- Our message is hopeless an our faith is futile. (1 Cor. 15:14)
- The Bible writers are liars. (1 Cor. 15:15)
- There is no answer for our sin. (1 Cor. 15:17)
- Christian funerals are a joke. (1 Cor. 15:18)
- We are pathetic and pitiful. (1 cor. 15:19)
The evidence that Jesus rose from the dead has to be worth investigating. For every follower of Jesus it is the reason we follow. Without the resurrection, a life following Jesus is meaningless. When Jesus rose from the dead it was the beginning of the new world that Israel’s God had always intended to make. The evil that had invaded this world, was broken and defeated on that first Easter morning. God’s kingdom has broken though on earth as it is in heaven.
God’s great plan of restoration is to bring people out of exile and back into relationship. That is the Kingdom of God, it’s what God wants to happen. God’s desire is that you and I would be back in relationship with him and back in relationship with the people and the world around us.
For Paul, “The main meaning of the resurrection of Jesus…is that God’s new world has been brought into being through this event, the long promised new world in which the covenant will be renewed, sins will be forgiven and death itself will be done away with.” Tom Wright
Paul shows that without the resurrection our faith and our future are meaningless. Without the resurrection there is no hope. The resurrection is central to what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The resurrection is what brings hope to despair. The resurrection is not just good news for each individual Christian. The resurrection is good news for the entire Universe. This is monumental.
“The resurrection of Jesus was the moment when the one true God appointed the man through whom the whole cosmos would be brought back into it’s proper order. A human being had got it into this mess; a human being would get it out again.” – (Tom Wright PfE, p212)
For Paul, what makes you really live life is the resurrection. The future is what counts. You cannot change the past. What’s done is done. What was said was said. Stop living in the past. And stop living just in the now. Live in such a way to change your future. How will you affect your future? How will you live tomorrow? What choices will you make to live this life? Live in such a way to affect the future of others? Don’t let your past haunt you and don’t be afraid of the future.
As we finish this Lent Adventure, look at how far we have come. From Creation to Fall. Through a people called to be a blessing, rescued form slavery, entering a promised land, getting it wrong again and again. Exile and return. The life of Jesus. His death and resurrection. And now the life we are called to live to continue the story….
If you live tomorrow, how will you live? What plans for living do you have? In light of the story so far, how will you contribute to the story in which you live?
How will you live in light of the resurrection? What impact does this reversal and defeat of death by Jesus have on the way you live life? Will you join with Him in the renewal of all things?