Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Reflections on 1 Corinthians 15 (Part 2)

Does the resurrection really matter? There are literally thousands of ancient tombs in Palestine. What difference would it make if one of them contains the bones of Jesus? For much of the world, it wouldn’t change much, just a confirmation of what they suspected. For Christians, it changes everything.

“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” Without the resurrection, don’t bother going to church. If Jesus is still dead, then the Divine Service is worthless, your pastor is worthless, your faith is worthless. It’s simply a waste of time. But it’s even worse, as Paul continues, “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.” If the body of Jesus remains in the grave, then we are not just wasting our time, we are telling lies about God. We are actually sinning by our worship, by our faith, by our confession. And the worst is yet to come: “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.” Without the resurrection, all we have is a dead rabbi hanging on a cross. You are still in your sins. Salvation hasn’t come; you are going to hell. The Law declares eternal condemnation. And so Paul concludes: “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” If Jesus is simply a good guy who gives you tips for living, then you are of all people most to be pitied. The resurrection is essential, the resurrection matters. Nothing in this world is more important than the fact that the one who died on Good Friday rose on Easter morning, as Saint Paul proclaims so boldly in response to this dire picture he has painted: “In fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Alleluia!

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