Resurrection – I
I Corinthians 15:20-22
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Let’s concentrate on the second ‘R’ of the above three – Resurrection! The featured Scripture is I Corinthians 15:2- through 22:
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and become the first- fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
But what does the resurrection of Jesus Christ mean for us? In I Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul starts the chapter with eleven verses declaring the proof of the resurrection:
- Verses 1 and 2 – It is an integral part of the gospel that has been preached to the Corinthians, and received by them! (see also verse 11).
- Verses 3 and 4 – Paul preached the gospel to them exactly as he had received it! “…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.” Some scholars say this was either part of an early creed or hymn used in the ancient church.
- Verses 5 through 10 – Jesus’ post-resurrection sightings – strong evidence for the resurrection:
✞ “...He was seen by Cephas [Peter], then by the twelve [apostles, now including Mattathias – see Acts 1:26].” (verse 5). ✞ “After that Christ appeared to more than 500 other believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died.” (verse 6 – English Standard Version). ✞ “After that He was seen by James [the Lord’s half- brother], then by all the apostles.” (verse 7). ✞ “...last of all He was seen by me [Paul] also as one born out of due time.” (verse 8). In verses 9 and 10, Paul goes on to explain how unworthy he is to be an apostle. But called he was! And he labored exhaustively to spread the gospel of his Master! ✞ “Therefore...so we preached and so you [Corin- thians] believed.” (verse 11)
In I Corinthians 15:12 through 19, Paul uses a negative approach: What if the resurrection did not happen?
- Verse 12 – Some who claimed to be followers of Christ were saying “…there is no resurrection of the dead….”
- Verse 13 – “…if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.”
- Verses 14 and 17 (Contemporary English Version) – “And if Christ wasn’t raised to life, our message is worthless, and so is your faith…you are still living in your sins.”
- Verses 15 and 16 (Contemporary English Version) – “If the dead won’t be raised to life, we have told lies about God by saying that He raised Christ to life, when He really did not. So if the dead won’t be raised to life, Christ wasn’t raised to life.”
- Verse 18 (Easy-to-Read Version) – “And those in Christ who have already died are lost.”
- Verse 19 – “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most pitiable.”
But in I Corinthians 15:20, the apostle makes a statement that should give us joy and rejoicing! “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
- We have to understand what is meant by “…Christ…has become the firstfruits….”
✡ I think the concept of firstfruits is most clearly shown in Proverbs 3:8 and 9: “Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” The firstfruts, an offering to God of the first crops of the harvest, were given in expectation of His blessing for an abundant harvest to follow! ✞ Likewise, Christ, the firstfruits being the first to be raised from the dead means all true believers will also be raised from death to eternal life with God! Revelation 7:9 and 10 gives us a glimpse of the harvest to follow: After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb [Jesus Christ], clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation be- longs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ so important to our faith?
- If Christ wasn’t raised from the dead, there would be no conquering of death for us!
- If Jesus wasn’t raised with a glorified body, there would be no hope of us bearing “…the image of the heavenly Man.” (I Corinthians 15:49).
- Satan orchestrated the cross to get rid of the Lord – or at least he thought he did (see I Corinthians 2:6-8). If Jesus had not conquered death, the devil would have had a great victory over mankind – keeping them separated from God!
- The evil one is called “…the god of this world…” (II Corinthians 4:4) because he is temporarily in control of “…the kingdoms of this world…and their glory…” (Luke 4:5 and 6). If Christ had remained dead, the angel, in Revelation 11:15, could never announce, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”
- Satan, “…had the power of death…”, and “…kept [humanity] in…bondage…all their lifetime…through fear of death…” (Hebrews 2:14 and 15). But mankind has now been delivered by faith in the risen Jesus Christ! (see Romans 10:9).
- Only the Son of God is “…able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for [us]…” (Hebrews 7:25).
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
A dead Savior cannot save us!
“…if the [living] Son makes you free,
you shall be free indeed…”!