By Tim Frank
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Carthage
It is no coincidence that the Lord has orchestrated this lesson for this time in our nation’s history. Most, if not all, churches are still in the online-only format following Executive Orders and States of Emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of the shutdowns and fear, God’s Word of hope and peace echoes through the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.
The resurrection is all about life from death, hope from hopelessness, and joy from despair. The resurrection promises a bright new day is coming for the believer in Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In this world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” As you study this passage, be of good cheer; Jesus has overcome the world.
Paul gives an extensive teaching on the resurrection in I Corinthians 15. Last week, we examined the evidences of the truth of the resurrection. This week, we will focus on the effects, the results, of the resurrection. As the gospel hymn says, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.”
Paul gives an understanding of the power of the resurrection in I Corinthians 15:12-19 as he examines several negative results if the resurrection were not true. Without the resurrection, Jesus would not be alive, preaching would be a lie, and faith in Jesus would be empty and meaningless. Without the resurrection, those who had died in faith, believing in Jesus, would have perished in their sin. In other words, without the resurrection, all hope would be lost.
In verses 20-23, however, Paul states emphatically that Jesus is risen from the dead, and He is the first fruits of those who have died in Him. Jesus rose from the grave on the Jewish celebration of First Fruits (Leviticus 23:4-18) when the Israelites were to celebrate the first gathering of the harvest. Jesus is the first of many who will rise from the grave.
The first promise of Jesus’ resurrection is that those who believe in Him will be raised from the dead, just as He was raised, when He comes again! The second promise of the resurrection is that Jesus will establish His kingdom and rule this earth when He comes again. Jesus will reign as Lord over all (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). In Revelation 19:11-20:6, John sees a vision of Jesus’ return and rule. Jesus’ authority is established, and those who are believers will reign with Him.
The third promise from I Corinthians 15 is found in verses 50-57 as Paul describes the moment Jesus comes again. The last trumpet sounds and the dead are raised, incorruptible and immortal. The promise is that death dies that day. God has given the victory to believers over sin, hell, death, and the grave through Jesus Christ! We will be raised, we shall rule and we shall rejoice in the victory Jesus has won for us.
The good news of the resurrection gives hope and strength for whatever we face in this life. Paul, in I Corinthians 15:58, challenges all believers to “be steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord.”
This triad could be compared to Paul’s declaration in II Timothy 4:6-8. Be steadfast; fight the good fight. Be immovable: finish the race, stay in your lane. Always abound in the work of the Lord; keep the faith. The resurrection of Jesus Christ calls us to be faithful in our service to Him, knowing that it will be worth it all when we see Jesus. Your labor is not in vain in the Lord because there is a crown of righteousness prepared for all who have loved His appearing.
Hallelujah, what a Savior! Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.