Chuck Foreman – Teaching Pastor
The death of Jesus had the meaning of forgiveness purchased for the many by the one life who was called “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) The burial of Jesus lent credibility to the resurrection of Jesus because his burial proved that he had actually died. But the resurrection of Jesus was what gave credibility to everything he had said and to whom he really was. The resurrection of Jesus was the clincher. The idea of forgiveness extended to mankind by their gracious Creator is unique among world religions. But the resurrection of the One who died in our place further sets the Christian faith apart from all others. This is why the preaching of the Apostles and early Christians always included this important point. It’s the event in history that gives us all hope of something more, something beyond just this mortal life and this broken world.
This is why Paul considers it worth defending. He quiets the skeptics with his recounting of all the eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. He does not expect his readers to just believe. This event was different than the Greek and Roman mythological stories of his day, with which he must have been quite familiar. Stories of gods mixing it up with humans and returning from the dead abounded, but there were no eyewitnesses to any of it. In fact, the mythological stories had the ring of mythology. But the story of Jesus had the ring of truth, especially since most of the eyewitnesses to the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus were still alive at the time Paul wrote his letters to the churches. Paul encourages his readers to check out his story by listing specifically all the people still alive who had seen Jesus alive after his death. (1 Corinthians 15:1-10)
But his point is not just that we should believe in the historical facts of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. His conclusion to all of this is that now our lives find their meaning and purpose because of the hope we have of also resurrecting, like Jesus, and being changed into immortal beings who will live forever. But our purpose is not just to sit around and hope for eternity. Our purpose is to serve the living Christ now as we, together with him, establish his kingdom on earth. Because we know we have victory over death, Paul encourages us, saying,
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.
Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,
because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
(1 Corinthians 15:58)