TEXT: 1 Corinthians 15:12-20
INTRODUCTION: Every Easter Sunday, millions of Christians all over the world go to worship at their respective churches to celebrate the day of our Lord’s resurrection. But what if Christ had never risen? It would have been the greatest tragedy for the human race because, then, there would be no Savior from our sins.
I. IF CHRIST WERE NOT RISEN, THEN –
A. Our preaching is in vain.
B. Our faith is in vain.
C. Our loved ones who died are lost despite their faith in Christ.
D. We are still in our sins (Ephesians 2:1-3)
E. We are of all men most miserable (1 Corinthians 15:32)
II. BUT CHRIST IS INDEED RISEN! (1 Corinthians 15:20)
A. The Empty Tomb
(1) All that Christ’s enemies needed to do to refute the disciples’ claims that Christ was risen was to produce the body, but they could not. In fact, their excuse that the disciples stole the body was an implied admission that the body of Jesus was indeed missing from the tomb (Matthew 28:11-15).
(2) The excuse that the disciples stole the body cannot be given credence. The disciples were discouraged and dispirited at that time, and in fact were not expecting Jesus to rise from the dead. The gospels relate that they had a hard time understanding every time Jesus would talk about his upcoming death and resurrection. Besides, the tomb was sealed with a large stone and was guarded by soldiers. The disciples on the other hand abandoned their Lord in the garden of Gethsemane just a few days prior, and Peter, presumably their leader at this time, was cowardly enough to deny his Lord at least 3 times.
B. The Eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15:5-8)
(1) Peter, James, and Paul, all of them claimed to have seen the Risen Lord, all of them had their lives transformed, and all of them eventually died a martyr’s death for their faith.
(2) There were just too many eyewitnesses (Paul counts around 500) who saw the Lord on different occasions (e.g., the women at the tomb, the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the disciples at the upper room, the disciples on Mount Olivet during the Ascension. This rules out the theory of hallucination. Also, Paul was presenting a dare to his opponents who questioned not only his authority but also the doctrine of the resurrection to confirm his story, since most of these witnesses were still alive. He would not have made such a dare unless he was very confident of the truth of his claims.
(3) The gospels relate that women were the first to see and meet the Risen Lord. Considering that women’s testimonies were looked down upon in that culture, it would be embarrassing to present their account unless it was true.
(4) Again, the principle of embarrassment: Peter, the leader of the early church in Jerusalem, is depicted as confused and uncomprehending when he entered the empty tomb. Thomas, another apostle, is depicted as incredulous when he heard the report of Jesus’ resurrection. Why present them in this way, unless this is what actually happened.
C. The Early Church and its Creeds
(1) From the very beginning the Church has always believed in resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Epistles of Paul predated the gospels, and 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 predated the New Testament. This rules out the theory that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is nothing more than a legend. A legend requires time to develop, but the Church’s belief in the resurrection of the Lord was there at its inception.
(2) Moreover, the church was founded on the claim and the belief that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Without the resurrection, it would be very difficult to account for the existence of the church (Isaiah 53:10).
D. The Energy of the Spirit.
Because Christ rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, he sent us his Spirit to be with us and to empower us. This was the experience of the first Christians, and our experience too. The Spirit of the living Lord in our hearts and lives, empowering us and transforming is another proof that indeed Jesus is risen from the dead. As the song says, “He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today, he walks with me and talks with me, along life’s narrow way. He lives, he lives, salvation to impart. You ask me how I know he lives, he lives within my heart(Revelation 3:20).
III. AND BECAUSE CHRIST IS RISEN, THEREFORE –
A. Our preaching is powerful (Romans 1:16; Hebrews 7:24, 25; Matthew 28:18-20)
B. Our faith is alive, because is founded on the Living Lord (1 Peter 1:3)
C. Our loved ones who died in Christ are with Christ right now and will be raised up on the last day. (2 Corinthians 5:6, 8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
D. We have forgiveness of sins (Romans 8:33-34; 1 John 2:1-2)
E. We are of all men most blessed because we have the hope of eternal life, and therefore we ought to live holy lives as befit those who are partakers of life everlasting (1 Peter 1:3, 15; Hebrews 11:13-14; 2 Peter 3:13-14; 1 John 3:2-3)