“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” 1 Corinthians 15:19 (NKJ)
Christ has risen! (Matt. 28:6) What now? I’m sure Christ’s disciples had the same question. They had received the resurrection proclamation from the women who visited the empty tomb early Easter morning (Matt. 28). They had personally seen the glorified Christ “behind shut doors” (John 20:19-30). Even after this, the Disciples did not fully comprehend the implications of the resurrection and how it would change their lives forever. The Disciples and the New Testament Church would now face persecution and even death for their belief in Jesus Christ. If they were to continue the work that Jesus began, they would now need to demonstrate the reality of the resurrection.
The Apostle Paul knew the importance of the resurrection and passionately defended its reality. He shared the magnitude of the resurrection with the church at Corinth by highlighting the risk that would occur if they did not accept it as “fact” and demonstrate its impact in their lives (1 Corinthians 15). This danger still exists for believers in the 21st century. In verse 14 Paul begins to expound the casualty to Christianity if “Christ is not raised.”
First and foremost, our faith is in vain (v.14). Imagine awakening to the news that Christ’s resurrection did not occur? How would your belief system be affected? In what or who would you place your hope and trust? Second, if Christ is not raised, we as believers have falsely represented God (v.15). Jesus’ resurrection is the cornerstone of God’s plan of eternal salvation for man (Hebrew 5:9). Only God could supernaturally raise Christ from the dead (Acts 2:24; Ep. 1:20). To deny the resurrection would also be denying the power of God. Third and most disturbing, Paul concludes if Christ is not raised, we are “still in our sins” AND our family and friends who have died “have perished” (v. 17). It was for sin that Jesus was manifested (1 John 3:5) and through His resurrection that the power of death was destroyed (Heb. 2:14). “The resurrection of Jesus showed that Christ’s oblation as the sacrificial lamb was accepted by God, which is the basis for the giving of the Spirit to believers and the forgiveness of sins.” Finally, our text for today (v. 19) sums up the dilemma that Christians and the world in general would face if there were no resurrection: “If we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world” (NLT). If this life is the total sum of our existence, then Christ would have died in vain and our future prospects would be consigned to the dust from which we were created. Continuity of our existence would be halted with our last breathe.
I question whether we, as believers, fully understand the implications of Christ’s resurrection in the 21st century. Year after year we proclaim, “Christ is risen!” on Easter Sunday often relegating it to a “social phenomenon” that occurred thousands of years ago. Yes, we’re willing to accept Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and the gift of His Holy Spirit, but at the end of the day, what changes have we implemented in our lives to reflect the “supernatural manifestation” that took place on Resurrection Sunday? The reality of Jesus’ resurrection should make a difference in how we live! Are we living our life as Christ had hoped when He sacrificed His life for ours? Are we doing “greater works” than Christ did, as He stated in John 14:12? Are we living each day joyfully expecting His return? (2 Pet. 3:11-12) NOW is the right time to rededicate our life to Christ and boldly demonstrate the reality of His resurrection. Hallelujah, Christ is raised! Learn more about “The Resurrection in the New Testament” in our “RESOURCES.”
Good to the Last Byte…
After the resurrection, the disciples went back to their daily routines. Peter invited his cohorts to “go fishing” while they awaited their new orders from Jesus. We miss the reality of the resurrection of Christ by assigning it to one day a year and then returning to “business as usual”. Live out the reality of the resurrection everyday by boldly pursuing the good work God has begun in you (Phil. 1:6).