1 Corinthians 15:12-20
This is what it all comes down to: whether or not one man rose from the dead. Christianity is not about morality, though to be moral is good. It’s not about virtue, though to be virtuous is beneficial. It’s not about the golden rule, though the golden rule is beautiful.
It can’t be about any of those things, not primarily, because all of those things will still, in the end, kill you. You will never be moral or virtuous enough. You will never keep the golden rule according to its golden standard. If Christianity, to you, is about living a moral life or being a virtuous person, then you’re in the wrong religion.
This is what it all comes down to: whether or not one man rose from the dead. If Christ has not been raised, then preaching Him is a lie. If Christ has not been raised, then believing in Him is foolish. If Christ has not been raised, then being a Christian is beyond pitiful regardless of how moral or virtuous you look. If Christ has not been raised, then in the end, you end. Your sins are still yours and death is all you should expect.
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
The firstfruits was an offering the Lord commanded Israel give upon entering the Promised Land (see Deuteronomy 26:1-11). In dedicating the very first portion of their crop to the Lord, the Israelites were confessing that all they had came from the Lord, along with their confidence in Him to provide the remainder of the harvest. In other words, the firstfruit served as the guarantee more was to come.
In the resurrection of Christ, God flips the firstfruit. No longer would the firstfruit be a sacrificial offering from people to God, but rather a sacrificial offering from God for people. God lays down the guarantee by raising up Christ to instill hope and confidence in those who fall asleep in Jesus. Christ is the God’s firstfruit offering. He’s the guarantee more resurrections are coming. Jesus is the first to rise but He certainly won’t be the last.
That changes everything.
It means our preaching is not a lie. Pilate asked the question with which every human heart must wrestle: “What is truth?” Ironically, he asked the question to the very One who is truth. And here is His truth: “Because I live, you also will live.” It’s not a religious hoax or a crutch for the weak or even the opiate of the masses. It’s the truth, whether you believe it or not.
Preaching the truth of the resurrected Christ also allows us to preach the truth about death. It’s not a gentle “passing away” or even a necessary part of the “circle of life.” Let’s be honest and call it what it is: death is our greatest enemy. It attacks our hope. It steals our joy. It rips away our loved ones. It robs us of life! We hate death and fight against it with everything we have. And yet, it still finds a way to win.
But for us fights the Valiant One. You see, the way you defeat death is not by eradicating disease, outlawing guns or ending war. The way you defeat death is by actually dying only to come back from it. Proving that you are, in fact, stronger than death. On the cross Christ allowed death to consume and defeat Him so that on Easter Sunday He could proclaim, “Death has been swallowed up in victory!” There is no greater truth to preach than that.
It means your faith in Christ is not foolish. Your faith in Christ is actually the exact opposite of foolish. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “faith is only as good as the object in which it’s put.” Meaning, if you have the world’s strongest faith that you can fly, it won’t matter should you choose to jump off your house. Weak faith or strong, you’re not walking away from that foolish faith without a couple broken bones. But when the crucified and risen Christ is the object of your faith, weak or strong, that faith can move mountains. Not because of the faith, but because its object is the One who created the mountains and put them in their place. There is no greater faith to have than that.
It means being a Christian is not pitiful. I know, it sure does look pitiful from time to time. Maybe even most of the time. But so did Jesus. Rejected by His own, covered in spit and blood, hung with criminals, surrounded by mockers, Jesus was “like one from whom men hide their faces.” But not on Easter. His humiliation is over, replaced with exaltation. The day is now coming when every eye will see, every knee will bow, and every tongue confess what you, by faith, have known all along: Christ is risen and reigns over all things forever, for you. What joy and freedom and meaning that gives to the Christian life! Everything you do has a glorious purpose in Christ! You are free to live every waking moment in the shadow of the cross and with the confidence of the empty tomb. No vocation is so tedious, no good deed is so small that it goes unnoticed or under-appreciated by Jesus. Not even a cup of cold water given to a little one. Likewise, no sin is so great that it cannot be forgiven by Christ. No sinful life is so lost that it cannot be redeemed in and resurrected with Christ. There is no greater life to live than that.
This is what it all comes down to in the end. Because of Christ, you will not end. Jesus rose. So will you. Christ lives. So do you. So live freely friends!
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