The death of Jesus. A gruesome and vile act. The moment that Christians associate with their salvation. "His death paid my sins." ... "By the cross we are liberated." ... "Jesus' crucifixion replaced my shame with honor."
But... did it?
What if Jesus never rose from the dead? Does the resurrection even matter?
We talk about the death of Jesus all year round. But oftentimes we leave out the resurrection or give it one sentence to conclude the "important" part of the Gospel- that Jesus died for us.
So what's the big deal about the resurrection? Read with me what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church.
1 Corinthians 15:17-22, 54-58 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.
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Questions to Consider
- What cause and effect situations do you see in this passage? What is the order of events in this passage?
- What is the connection between the resurrection and our labor for the Lord not being in vain?
- Why, according to this passage, would we be hopeless without Jesus? Why, with Jesus do we have unfading hope?
- In this Easter season, what is shaking your faith? How can you empower the Gospel and the Holy Spirit within you to give you boldness in your own faith and your mission field?
Jesus is first. He had to rise from the dead for us to rise from the dead. He had to have resurrection power to give us the resurrection power within us! Jesus made peace through his blood shed on the cross. However, if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, He wouldn't have been God. He would've been some lunatic crazy enough to believe he was God and willing to die for it--yikes!
So what is the hope held out in the Gospel? It's that Jesus did rise from the dead. He is truly God. Through his resurrection, he did conquer sin and death. And because of his resurrection, we receive new life now and eternal life with the Father.
God isn’t just sitting on the sidelines waiting for you to get bored of your life without Him. He is chasing you down. The God who is holding the sun in place and ordering new planets, creating new life through His Word is calling your name. Even in your moments of rejecting him, when you roll your eyes at him or only give him 10% of your life, he says, “I want you.” And he wants all of your life. Not just part of it. Because he gave his whole life for you and then rose from the dead, if you give your life over to him he will give you a satisfaction that lasts. God doesn’t just want to give you joy. He wants to be your joy.
The call to action Paul gives the Corinthians is to let your confidence in the truth of the whole Gospel move you. Move you to give your whole self to God's mission-- sharing the whole Gospel with everyone you know. And since the Gospel is truth, your labor is not in vain! Who in your life needs this truth? Your family, Greek friends, coworkers, or classmates? You know people who don't know Jesus. Stand firm in the truth of His love and delight and give yourself fully to the work of the Lord! By His grace, in His mercy, for His glory.