Christ is Risen (Matthew 28:1-10; 1 Corinthians 15:12-20) The sun has risen upon a brand new Day. From this day forward, everything is going to be different. The foolish will become wise, the last shall be first, and the sinner will be a saint. Jesus Christ, Messiah, the Son of God rises from His grave. Paul placed all of his hope on this one aspect of Jesus’ life as we see in our passage. Paul has been speaking about the gospel, reminding the Corinthians of it in this chapter. He made it a point to say that Christ was raised (v. 4) and appeared to many people (vs. 5-8), confirming through the eyes of many witnesses of the truth of Christ’s resurrection.
When Paul gets to our passage of focus, he is combatting the idea that there is no resurrection from the dead. He moves rather past the idea that this is all there is to life, and instead focuses on what it would mean if there was no resurrection for Jesus.
He lists three consequences of there being no resurrection, which crystallize for us the enormous importance of the resurrection: If Christ wasn’t raised, then people’s faith in Him and preaching of Him would be futile. Who places any ultimate hope in a dead person? A dead person is just like the rest of us, finite. Anything else we put our hope in ultimately decays and dies, and if Jesus wasn’t raised, then He would be no different than money in the bank or an author who wrote your favorite book. But since Jesus is alive, you can place all of your hope and faith in Him because not even death can separate you from Him!
If Christ wasn’t raised, then you are still in your sins. This shows us that Christ’s work was different than any other religious figure. Other people down through history have tried to convince us with basically the same message: be a good person by following these rules to please God or find peace. Every religion, apart from Christianity, boils down to that basic formula. Christ came with a very different message. He said that we cannot save ourselves; we are too sinful to be pleasing to God because the standard is perfection (Matthew 5:48). The consequences or payment of that sin is death (Romans 6:23), so Jesus came to take that penalty for us. However, if Christ didn’t rise, then we would know that the penalty hasn’t been paid in full. But He did rise, and that’s what makes Him different. No other figure has risen from the dead, and no other figure paid your penalty.
Finally, if Christ wasn’t raised, and you were hoping only in Him in this life, then you are a most pitiable person. If you are following after a dead savior, then you truly don’t have any hope, and you might as well just live for yourself however long your life will last. It would be such a pity to endure the life that Christ calls us too, only to find out that it was all for nothing. But Christ was raised! Now instead of being pitied, we are in the most envious position in all the universe. This isn’t because we will have an easy life. In fact, it will be the opposite of that (see Matthew 5:1-12). But if Christ is raised, then we have a hope that far exceeds this life. If we find forgiveness of our sins in Christ because He paid for them all, then it doesn’t really matter how life goes for us here for the eighty or so years we have on Earth. The life we look forward to in heaven will last for all of eternity. There is no point in pitying ourselves. Our hope and joy is secure in the arms of the risen Jesus.
Paul closes this line of reasoning by saying that Christ did, indeed, rise and is the first-fruits of those who have died already. This means that Christ is the preview for all of those who trust in Him. Though they die, just like Christ, they shall live.
Thoughts for prayer: Thank God for the resurrection, and all the blessings that this brings into your life today. Thank Him for the joy and hope that His resurrection provides.