The Standard April 8, 2023
“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:13-19)
Here Paul exposes the futility of life without the resurrection. All of our hope as Christians hinges on the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead. Without that, we still would be bogged down in our sins. There would be no redemption or hope for escaping the justice with which God would deal with our selfishness, pride and other failings. There would be no mercy, but we would get the judgment we deserved.
The Christians hearing this message from Paul were hated and persecuted by many around them. They also denied themselves worldly pleasures, as they were “crucified with Christ.” (Galatians 2:20) By being disciples of Jesus they made their lives more difficult and if it were only for expectations in this world others truly should have felt sorry for them.
J.I. Packer writes “Optimism hopes for the best without any guarantee of its arriving and is often no more than whistling in the dark. Christian hope, by contrast, is faith looking ahead to the fulfillment of the promises of God, as when the Anglican burial service inters the corpse ‘in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Optimism is a wish without warrant; Christian hope is a certainty, guaranteed by God himself. Optimism reflects ignorance as to whether good things will ever actually come. Christian hope expresses knowledge that every day of his life, and every moment beyond it, the believer can say with truth, on the basis of God’s own commitment, that the best is yet to come.”
According to N.T. Wright “The resurrection completes the inauguration of God’s kingdom. It is the decisive event demonstrating that God’s kingdom really has been launched on earth as it is in heaven. The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it.” We all are welcome to be transformed by the miracle of the resurrection and to live in the hope that is ours in Christ Jesus. Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed.