Today, for many in the Christian world, it is one of the more significant days of the year. For today is what many calls Easter Sunday, where church facilities are often fuller than ever and families gather to celebrate with Easter egg hunts and a wonderful meal. It is a time of remembrance…a time of joyful remembrance because today we remind ourselves of the resurrection of Christ.
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you,
which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved,
if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-unless you believe in vain.
1st Corinthians 15:1-2
I want to transport us back almost 2000 years, early in the ministry of Jesus. In the temple we find Him frustrated with the Jews, His people…God’s people. He says to them as He clears out the temple, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” (John 2:16) Troubled by His actions, the Jews ask, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” (john 2:18) Jesus’s answer would change history one day, for answered, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19) Everything about the good news of Jesus hinged itself on this one event, His resurrection…Resurrection Day.
What exactly did Paul preach to them? Well, in 1st Corinthians 15:3-8 we find the answer to this question: he spoke of Christ’s death, His burial and “that He rose again according to the Scriptures.” What scriptures? Maybe Paul is talking about Psalm 16:10, “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” There is a good chance he is referring to Jonah 1:17, “And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” I say this only because Jesus Himself would make reference to this text in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Only three days and nights, for He would be resurrected! This claim is not without evidence as Paul made clear to the church in Corinth. Peter, the twelve and “over five hundred brethren at once” have all seen the resurrected Christ (1st Corinthians 15:6). The significance about them is found in these words, “…of whom the greater part remain to the present.” If you’re not sure, ask them! Better yet, ask me, Paul says, for I saw the resurrected Christ myself (v8). The good news about Christ hinges on the reality that He was resurrected. For if He was not, “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1st Corinthians 15:19).
The significance of Christ’s resurrection is at the core of all we hope for! Listen to what Paul says, “For since by man [mankind] came death, by Man [Christ] came the resurrection of the dead” (1st Corinthians 15:21). If there is no resurrection to hope in, what are we doing? Or, as Paul said, “If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!’” (1st Corinthians 15:32) But Christ has risen! You have proof! He exhorts them, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (1st Corinthians 15:33). Don’t listen to the naysayers! Why? Because the absence of Christ’s resurrection leaves us with this life and this life only, nothing to look forward to, and thus, no real reason for change, to avoid sin. Paul would be right. Let’s eat and drink, party it up if you will. Wait! He has risen! He is alive! There is hope beyond this broken world.
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God;
nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 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 incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1st Corinthians 15:50-52
We shall be changed!! Because He is risen, we have hope beyond this life, this world. We who believe in His resurrection today, as Paul wanted then back then, can loudly proclaim, “O Death, where is your sting? O hades, where is your victory?” (1st Corinthians 15:55) They have none! They have lost, we have won! “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1st Corinthians 15:57). With the confidence found only in His marvelous resurrection, Paul exhorts them and I now exhort us all, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1st Corinthians 15:58).