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1 Corinthians 15:17-19
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 hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
In today’s scripture from 1 Corinthians chapter 15 Paul is continuing to guide his church with practical instruction on what it takes to live their new lives as Christians. In much of this chapter Paul is dealing with Jesus’ resurrection and the why it was important. During this time in the history of the early church there were a great number of skeptics who were arguing that Jesus did not actually rise from the dead. It seems that even some in Paul’s church were denying the resurrection. Likewise, I am confident that there are professing Christians today that would reject the bodily resurrection of Jesus. In light of this skepticism it is easy to question whether it even matters if Jesus was raised from the dead. Is the resurrection essential for our salvation?
I think the key thing we have to remember here is that the hope that we have for the future rests in the ideal that God will raise us from the dead. We have to understand that outside of faith in Christ we are spiritually dead and at some point we will be physically dead also. We must also realize that the only reason that this is true is because of sin. If sin had not entered into humanity we would not taste the sting of physical death and more importantly we would not have died the spiritual death of separation from God. It is the separation from God that Paul is pointing to as the key aspect of our redemption. It is vital that we remember that at the cross Jesus became sin and that God poured His punishment on him. So at the moment his of death Jesus was bearing the sin of humanity, and he was no longer able to fellowship with the Father. Jesus in human form became what we are and suffered the death we should and stood separated from the Father like we do. If the story ended at Jesus’ death how would we be any better off? This is why the resurrection is essential. God the Father in His great power raised Jesus from the dead so that he would be free from the sin he bore. The death and resurrection of Jesus are events that cannot be separated. We needed the death of Jesus so that the sinless man could become sin and receive our penalty and we needed the resurrection of Jesus so that in him we can be free from death, both physical and spiritual and be reconciled to God.
I think Paul sums it up best in verse 19 saying, “19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” How sad would it be if we only had the death of Jesus. That the story would end with an innocent man being punished for the transgressions of the masses, but punished not for the redemption of those who are lost but punished just for punishment’s sake. But praise be to God that Jesus is Risen and in His rising we are raised with him, and Praise be to God that we do not have to live this life waiting for death to separate us eternally from God the Father, but rather we can live this life knowing that just as Jesus rose and now fellowships eternally with the Father, so shall we.
Heavenly Father, thank you God for your love. Thank you God that while we were stuck in our sin you provided a way. Thank you Lord Jesus for your faithfulness and your sacrifice. Help us remember today that as you rose from the death you received because of our sins that we too will be raised free of the sins that condemned us. Thank you God for your grace and mercy. Thank you for reconciliation. We offer you praise. In Jesus’ name. Amen.