This week marks the last week of the season of Easter. On May 31, we will celebrate Pentecost Sunday. It’s fitting that this last assigned reading is on the topic that is the entire point of Easter: the resurrection.
The Core of the Christian Faith
This passage from 1 Corinthians 15 has three parts. In the first part, the apostle Paul lays out what he proclaims as the most basic teaching of the Christian faith:
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.1 Corinthians 15:3-4
This teaching (creed if you want to be fancy) itself has basically three parts:
- Jesus Christ died (for our sins)
- Jesus was buried (he was actually dead)
- Jesus was resurrected (and there were a lot of witnesses to prove it)
It was the resurrection part that made the entire thing significant. Lots of people die and are buried. But, so far, only one has risen from the dead in this way.
All Will Rise
This, like most of what Paul writes about in his letters, is in response to a specific situation. In verse 13, he states that reason. “some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead.” So, someone in the church at Corinth is teaching that there isn’t a resurrection. We don’t know for sure, but I would hazard a guess that this person is not actually arguing that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, though that is certainly a possibility. I think they are referring to a different teaching, the resurrection of everyone.
If that’s true, then Paul is crafting an argument that states:
- We agree that Jesus died and rose again.
- If Jesus was resurrected, then resurrection is possible.
- If resurrection is possible, then the biblical teaching that everyone will be resurrected on the Last Day, must also be possible.
[If these people deny that Jesus rose from the dead, then Paul essentially says that as it is a core belief; if you cannot believe that Jesus rose from the dead, then you are not part of our faith.]
Victory over Death
In the third part of this Bible passage (skipping verses 27 through 50), Paul goes more in-depth as to what resurrection means. It’s easiest to start with what resurrection is not. Resurrection is not about just being brought back to life. There are multiple stories of Jesus bringing people back to life who have died, the most famous of which is that of his dear friend Lazarus. But Lazarus and the others were brought back to life, back to where they were beforehand. Later on, they died again as all people do and stayed dead.
Here, Paul says that the resurrection of Jesus, and the eventual resurrection of us all, is not the same as that. Jesus got, and we will get, a new body in the resurrection, bodies not subject to sickness, injury, or death. We will still be ourselves, just with a major upgrade.
Resurrection Starts Now
This is truly good news. Jesus was victorious over death, and he shares that victory with us. We have hope. Our life with God will not end at the time of our death but will go on for eternity. We don’t have to fear death. It is important, though, to realize that this resurrection-life, or eternal life, doesn’t just apply to when we die. God gives us that life now as well. In relationship with God, you can start living your eternity today.
Doubt and Faith
But we sometimes have a hard time believing this. We are still afraid of death, ours and of those we love. Death is all around us, even when we are not living through a pandemic. The good news is that doubt is a natural part of a life of faith. God continues to love you unconditionally, with an emphasis on unconditionally. God doesn’t just love you when you believe. God loves you when you doubt, too. You can join with a man whose son was suffering, calling to Jesus: “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
Living the Resurrection
How do we go about living the resurrection when we are still in fear and doubt? Basically, the same way we do in many of the difficult periods of life: keep moving forward, knowing that this too will end. We cope with fear and doubt by leaning on our friends and family who will support us. Keep exposing yourself to Scripture by attending (or watching) church, reading your Bible, reading a spiritual book, praying, or talking to others (or some combination of these). As with all changes that we want to make in our lives, the important thing is to take small steps and keep taking small steps.
May the love of Christ fill your hearts and minds and bring you hope from the resurrection.
Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
When you download the free Sharing God’s Story @ Home devotional insert, linked below, you will have a resource to guide daily devotional time. Using this resource and your own creativity, design devotions for yourself and your family or friends. I will be providing this resource for free on a weekly basis, so check back at this blog each week! I hope this will be helpful for you in the days ahead.
Daily Bible Readings online (Here you can subscribe to our daily Bible readings calendar so that you can see them on your electronic calendar.)