“That he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4)
Our appreciation for something is often greatest when we consider the consequence of it never having been. There are people who don’t believe in the resurrection because they don’t believe in Jesus Christ. There are also those who have a misperception about why He came and who He claimed to be. This was also true in the Apostle Paul’s day. Paul was always concerned about the integrity of the gospel, emphasizing the gospel he preached was that which he received from Christ. Of all the teaching in Scripture on the resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15 is the most comprehensive. In this passage, Paul mentions three elements of the gospel: Christ’s death for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection on the third day. All of these elements are critical to Christ’s redemptive work, but His resurrection is what we consider here. Think for a moment where we would be without it.
“ …that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4). In this chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us the consequences of there being no resurrection. He says that if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then preaching is in vain, faith is in vain, God is misrepresented, sin is not dealt with, and all who have died “in Christ” have perished. He goes on to say that if it is only in this life that we hope in Christ then, “we (Christians) are the most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:12–19). Translation: If it is only in this life that we have hope in Christ, stay home on Sunday, throw away your Bible, and live as you please because we’re hoping in something that isn’t real. Our hope in eternity is built on the resurrection, and without it there is no reason for hope. But there is reason for our hope. There is reason because the Bible tells us that Jesus was raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20).
In church today, the resurrection is the least alluded to aspect of Christ’s saving work. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe we just take it for granted? The resurrection is a necessary pillar of the Christian faith, and its affirmation has everything to do with not only salvation and justification but also biblical authority. It’s often said that Jesus conquered sin on the cross, and I know what people mean when they say that, but His death alone is incomplete without His resurrection, as this is how we are justified before God (Romans 4:25). The victory was completed when Jesus rolled away the stone and came out of the tomb.
Though as a church we may only formally celebrate the resurrection once a year, as Christians we testify to it every Sunday and can live it each day. As you consider and celebrate all that Christ has done, make sure to thank Him for the resurrection, for because of it you will never suffer the consequence of it never having been. But even more, thank Him for the resurrection because it confirms God accomplishing His plan, and because of that, we have hope—hope in this life and for eternity. What a great God and Savior!
God, I thank You for all of Jesus’ work in His life and death to save me. My sin is that great. But God, today I thank especially for His resurrection, for if that didn’t happen, I would be pitied and left without hope. But I have hope, all because of You. Help me trust Your Word as I live my life and as I testify about all of Jesus’ redeeming work. You are a great God and Savior!