If you were in church on the 23rd of November (and if you weren’t shame on you 🙂 you would have heard me preaching out of Acts chapter 5, where the Apostles are dragged before the Sanhedrin (the religious ruling body in Jerusalem), threatened and told to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. Luke makes a point of telling us in that chapter that the high priest at the time and a large part of the Sanhedrin for that matter, were Sadducees. At the time I mentioned that fact as being pretty important to the trouble the Apostles were in. You see, the Sadducees did not believe in any possibility of a resurrection.
It is not that they did not believe in the possibility of a dead person being brought back to life on the earth (like Jesus did to Lazarus); they also did not believe in the possibility of a resurrection after life one earth either. They truly did not believe that God would bodily resurrect the faithful to live with him in Heaven.
Enter 1 Corinthians 15. This is perhaps the best explanation about the role resurrection plays in our faith as Christians in the whole Bible. Paul carries on most of the conversations about resurrection in the New Testament, with some from the book of Hebrews, Peter, and (of course) Jesus himself.
I love the way Paul talks about resurrection in this chapter. First giving proof of Jesus’ own resurrection and laying that down as fundamental to our beliefs about Jesus himself. In Paul’s reasoning, if Jesus himself was not resurrected then the whole basis of our faith is uprooted and worthless (as Paul puts it). If Jesus was not resurrected from the dead, then any claims about his power to defeat sin, death and Hell are unfounded, as is our hope in obtaining salvation through belief in his name.
Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead is a key linchpin in whole faith. Not only that, but his resurrection then tells us about our own promised resurrection. That our resurrection will be modeled after his; that what we see written in the Gospels about Jesus’ body after the resurrection is the template for our own perfected bodies.
For me the most powerful part of this whole chapter is the final section, verses 50 to the end. Paul writes with such passion about what the resurrection of Jesus proves for us: namely that we are victorious in all things through Jesus. So not even death has sway over us, not even death should hold fear for those who are in Jesus. This might seem irrational, but I can’t tell you the number of times I have sat beside a dying Christian man or woman and have them say to me: “I am ready to go home. I am ready for Jesus to come and get me.” The ONLY way that statement can be made is with the absolute assurance that comes when someone believes wholeheartedly that there is nothing to fear in the closing of this life.
Paul also reminds us that this assurance we have in Jesus should embolden us to “always excel in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.” It has been proven that people work harder when they know that they are working for something important, for something that matters, for something that could/can change the world. What greater thing is there to work for but to share in the glory of the resurrection with as many people as possible?
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: 2 Corinthians 1-4