12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope2 in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:12-22)
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
We face a similar challenge to what St. Paul faced in the early church. Note who Paul is writing to. He’s not writing to nonbelievers, but to Christians, Christians in Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2), yet Christians who deny “that there is a resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:12). In Paul’s day, as recorded in the text, there were those who denied that a resurrection of the dead existed. This would also include the denial, and consequence, of Christ’s resurrection.
Today, there are those in Christendom who deny that Christ bodily rose from the dead. These will indeed speak of a resurrection, but not a bodily, physical resurrection of our Lord. As other parts of Holy Scripture are allegorized and considered “not real,” “mythical,” or merely “symbolical,” so it has come to be with the resurrection of Christ.
An examination of even one text, that of St. Luke, however, reveals a far different conclusion. In Luke 24, Jesus appears to His disciples (after speaking with two disciples on the road to Emmaus (13-35). In Luke’s account, Jesus says to His disciples, “See my hands and my feet, that I am He; touch and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bone as you see me having” (39). In addition, Jesus also eats fish in front of them (41-43). By saying and doing these things, Jesus confirmed what the disciples saw (and had heard), that He was bodily alive, physically risen from the dead; not a ghost, not a phantasm, but truly and really the risen Lord and Christ in flesh and blood.
According to the text of Scripture, one cannot deny the bodily resurrection of our Lord. To say that Jesus only has “risen in our hearts” or is alive somehow in a metaphysical or non-corporal way is really, to deny what the text says, and to reject the Christian faith, for as Paul states, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (1 Cor. 15:17-18).
To deny that there is a resurrection of the dead is to deny Christ’s resurrection from the dead. And to deny Christ’s resurrection is deny the work of God for our salvation. Faith in Christ would only be delusional and without any foundation whatsoever. And if this were the case, we would still be lost in our sins, having no hope. Christians would then be the most foolish of people, believing in something that didn’t happen as if it did.
Yet, as Paul, Peter, and the Evangelists reveal, Christ is risen (bodily) from the dead! The tomb is empty, only because God the Father raised His Son from the grave (Acts 2:32). This means that the message of our Lord is true! Your faith in Christ is not in vain. It is not useless, nor is it meaningless. Nor do you remain in your sin. Christ’s resurrection means that your sin no longer has any say over you (Romans 6:1-14; 8:32-34). Christ’s resurrection also means that the resurrection of the dead is true. This also means, your own to come.
Let others say what they will about the resurrection of our Lord, but we declare with Scripture, with the Apostles and Evangelists, and with the whole household of God, that God raised His Son from the dead. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
Prayer: Gracious Lord, grant us faith not to doubt, but to firmly believe in Your resurrection, which means also our own, from the dead. Raise us to new life in You, that we deny ourselves, forsake our sin, and follow you. Amen.
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