But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (
I don’t know any other way to break this to you, but to just come out and say it—I have a terminal illness. So do you. It’s called life—and it’s eventually fatal! We contracted this at birth. There is good news, however. Death has been defeated! That is Paul’s premise in
1 Corinthians 15.
The Apostle bases this in THE RESURRECTED SAVIOR (v.1-20). He begins the chapter as an attorney presenting his case in court. He lays out the evidence for Christ’s resurrection, summoning eyewitness after eyewitness. Paul even includes his own testimony that Jesus is alive. The Christian faith is founded on this fact. His death on the cross cannot save us if some tomb still holds His bones. Christ’s resurrection makes His crucifixion triumphant instead of tragic. Our hope is a living hope! Jesus promised and delivered on this, “Because I live, you will live also.” (
This means we will become THE RESURRECTED SAINTS (v.21-34). One day—maybe soon—Christ is coming for His church. He will raise the dead saints and translate the living ones, giving us new bodies, like unto His glorified form. Paul lays out the logical reasons to believe in and the practical results of Christ’s resurrection. There are implications not merely for the sweet by and by, but for the nasty now and now! We can deny ourselves and take up the cross in following Christ because we know that ultimately there is victory and reward in heaven!
Paul next discloses THE RESURRECTION STATE (v.35-53). I told an aging saint who was sharing all their aches and ailments, “There is nothing wrong with you that the resurrection won’t fix!” The new body we will be given will be flawless and not subjected to human frailties. It will be impervious to sickness, sorrow and sin. Now, our bodies can become a prison. Bars of bone bind our soul that yearns to be free of pain. The physical frame can deteriorate and so can the mind—dementia stealing away the personality, leaving a shell of what the person was. In the resurrection God says, “No more of that!”
No wonder this leads to THE RESURRECTION SONG (v.54-57) We sing in triumph over the tomb! I can still recall when I was a little barefoot boy running through the yard at play under a bright summer sun. Our lawn was about as much clover as grass, and the honeybees delighted in those tiny flowers. They were not as pleased when I stepped on one—the result being a venous sting. I would hop to my mother, crying, and she would console me as she removed the stinger, “That old bee can’t hurt you anymore—look, it’s lost its sting.” That is what Jesus did for us—He took the sting of death away!
This is not just “pie in the sky by and by,” as some deride it. There is THE RESURRECTION SUMMATION (v.58). What we do today matters, because there is an eternal accountability. Our labor for the Lord will not be in vain!