“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”
1 Corinthians 15:3-8
The whole host of American Christian experience lauds the death of Christ for our sins. In fact, that is what Paul does here: “That Christ died for our sins is of first importance.” We love that, and it is the flagship event for a personal relationship with Jesus. Yet, if you’re like me, we often pass right over the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. We forget that without it, the cross is nothing. More importantly, we forget the power that the resurrection brings to our lives. The resurrection changes our relationships, our work, our emotional life, the things we sacrifice for, the way we parent, and a host of other parts of our lives. If you haven’t taken this truth down into your bones, Paul says, then think about it. Think through all of the ways the resurrection must have happened, and even if you believe it to be true, think on it again.
There are innumerable reasons why the resurrection must have happened, among which Paul lists all of the people that the risen Christ appeared to. Yet, above and beyond those appearances, the whole world subtly but surely proclaims that the resurrection can’t not be true. If it isn’t we’re all hopeless. All of the suffering, pain, and death in our lives will reign forever if the resurrection is not true. Sadness will grow. Satan’s power will flourish. Yet, in the life of the Christian, little bursts of life begin to explode. The little deaths in our lives turn to little injections of heaven into a broken world. The non-Christian can’t know this, because it is only the work of the Holy Spirit, yet the longing is still there in every heart. To use the words of Mumford and Sons…
“And if your strife strikes at your sleep
Remember spring swaps snow for leaves
You’ll be happy and wholesome again
When the city clears and sun ascends.”
You see for the Christian, we not only embody the death of Christ, we take on the resurrection as well. If you find yourself closer to death than resurrection right now, take heart, for He is Risen!