- Written by Pastor Shawn Nettleton Pastor Shawn Nettleton
- Created: March 30 2021 March 30 2021
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 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. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 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. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.1 Corinthians 15:12–23
It's an understatement to say that there is a lot riding on Easter. St. Paul makes it clear that everything is riding on the resurrection of Christ! It is not just another article or confession of the faith, it is the very foundation of the Christian faith. No resurrection, no Biblical Christianity. Period. As C. F. W. Walther once said, “The resurrection is not just the shining jewel in the crown of our redemption, it is the crown itself! Without Christ's resurrection, the world would still not be redeemed.” 1
Without the resurrection of Christ nothing else in this life matters! Absolutely nothing! Without the resurrection of Christ sin still condemns and death still reigns. Without the resurrection of Christ there is no life beyond the grave, no hope for eternal life, and the Christian faith is nothing but a bunch of hot air. “If Christ has not been raised,” Paul writes, “then our preaching is in vain” (v. 14), “your faith is futile,” “and you are still in your sins” (v. 17).
Paul is writing these words to people who liked Jesus' teachings, who viewed Him as a good moral teacher, a good spiritual guru, but that's it! They didn't believe that Christ rose from the dead because the resurrection didn't fit within their world-view. Dead people don't rise and so belief in the resurrection was utter nonsense. Maybe someone should have passed that information on to St. Paul! Of course, Paul and his contemporaries also knew that people don't rise from the dead, but instead rot, decay and disintegrate in the grave.
The game changer, so to speak, is that the resurrection isn't a strange idea that Paul and the apostles cooked up! It really happened in real time and space! If Christ, like every other human being in history, had stayed rotting in the grave and didn't physically and bodily rise from the dead, our faith is indeed empty, worthless, pointless, and “we are of all people most to be pitied” (v.19). “But in fact,” Paul emphatically writes, “Christ has been raised from the dead” (v.20)! The resurrection of Christ was not any man's idea, but “in fact” God's wondrous action in history that has changed everything!
Without the resurrection, we are all dancing toward death and the grave with false hope and illusion! Without the resurrection, Christ's death on the cross was just one more heroic, selfless act of love, but has no power to do anything! Without the resurrection, our despair, our anguish, our tears, our sins, our death and eternal destruction remain forever.
But friends in Christ, Christ Jesus has “in fact” been raised! He is risen from the dead! Death did its worst to Jesus and it lost! Christ Jesus has kicked death in the teeth! Death is dead. The enemy has been conquered by the bright light of resurrection life! Your sins, your death, your anguish, your despair and your tears will not last forever because Jesus lives! Praise be to Thee O Christ!
The resurrection of Christ is the central theme of every sermon recorded in Acts. It is the sine qua non of Christianity. It is the beating heart of our faith, our living hope and our glorious future.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Almighty God, by the glorious resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, You destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light. Grant that we who have been raised with Him may abide in His presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen (Collect for Easter Wednesday) 2
- C.F.W. Walther, “Easter Sunday,” in God Grant It, (CPH, 2006), 345.
- A version of this article was emailed out as a weekly devotion for April 21, 2020.