Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15

The Christian life is given a voice in the telling of a story. It is a story of how the Creator of all things is working to restore a broken universe, a universe broken by the very creatures God created. In particular, this story focuses on how God became human and took on the role of a servant, so that those who trusted in God could be redeemed from their condition of sinfulness.

Often in telling this story we place an emphasis (rightly so) on the way that Jesus’ death on a cross is a key event in God’s plan to redeem humanity. Sometimes, though, we neglect a very important element in the equation: the resurrection. While the death of Jesus is important to emphasize, it would all have been for nothing without the resurrection.

But don’t just take my word for it; let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15. This portion of his letter to the church at Corinth is a reminder “of the gospel I preached to you, which your received and on which you have taken your stand...By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.” (v. 1-2, NIV)  This gospel is the story of Christ’s life, death, AND resurrection, validated by multiple witnesses. What strikes me most powerfully when I read this chapter is how Paul places all bets on the resurrection: “…if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (v. 14) Later he says that if the resurrection did not happen, and it is only for this life that we have hope in Christ, “we are to be pitied more than all men.” (v. 19)

Everything turns on the reality of the empty tomb: not just Christ’s work of atonement, but the very hope of eternity and redemption that drives the Christian life. Jesus’ resurrection is a promise and hint of our own future if we are spiritually united with him. As Paul states in another letter, “…if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11)

What is it we hope for? Life with God and the love and peace and joy that comes with it. Why do we hope for it? Because it has been promised to us, and not just in the words of some esoteric theology, but by his glorious resurrection! God has demonstrated favor toward the Son by raising him to new life and we are invited by Christ to be blessed in the same way.

So as we look toward Easter Sunday, we are reminded once again of the lavish grace of God enacted and promised in the resurrection of Christ. We are reminded of the great hope of our own resurrection at Christ’s return for those who faithfully follow him. And we are inspired to faithfulness by our sisters and brothers in Christ who together celebrate his victory over death. “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Lord, we come humbly before you with thanks for the gracious gift of your son Jesus Christ. May your glory be revealed in each of our lives as we trust in the hope of resurrection in faithful service to you. May your kingdom come! May your will be done!  Amen.

Christopher Vena grew up around and eventually attended Toccoa Falls College. After a graduate school sojourn through the upper midwest where he attended Bethel Seminary (MN) and Marquette University, he returned home and is now Associate Professor of Theology at TFC. Chris and his wife Christy are kept busy by their four lively and active daughters.