In Christ all shall be made alive – a sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:1-22 by Rev. Colin Pretorius.
Leonid Brezhnev ruled Russia from 1963 to 1982. He imprisoned priests and believers and closed churches. In both public and in private, he and his wife Viktoria were examples of communist atheists. Faith in God was nowhere to be seen. Which makes what happened and Brezhnev’s funeral quite remarkable. The USA representative at the state funeral was then-vice-president George HW Bush. He recalls that he was deeply moved by Viktoria’s action that day. She stood without moving by her husband’s coffin until seconds before it was closed. And then, just as the soldiers touched the lid to close the coffin, she performed an act of enormous courage and hope – she leaned over her husband’s body and made the sign of the cross! At the centre of that atheist empire, she traced the image of our hope and salvation on the body of the man she had loved for 54 years. She hoped that there was another life and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross and was resurrected from the dead.
Over the years many have asked the question if the resurrection really matters. Perhaps you’ve even wondered about it yourself. Perhaps one of your Christian friends has told you that while she believes in Christ, she just cannot believe that whole resurrection thing. Surely, she said, we can still believe in Jesus if the resurrection is not true? Because we’ll still believe Jesus was the Son of God. We’ll still believe that He came to the earth to take away our sin. We’ll still believe that He was a great teacher, that He performed miracles, that in the Sermon on the Mount and other teachings He taught us the way to live. We’ll still believe that He died for our sins. Your friend may go on to say that surely none of that will change if the resurrection was just a story, an invention by the gospel writers? How will you answer that?
Why do – and why should – believers in the Lord Jesus hold the doctrine of the resurrection so very dear?
Brothers and sister, Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection. Our Christian faith, indeed everything we are and everything we believe in hinges on the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead! Let me put it bluntly: If we deny the truth of the resurrection, our faith means nothing! If what Jesus said about Himself and His resurrection was not true, if indeed He was not raised from the dead, then we cannot believe anything else He says either!
So this is a crucial doctrine, and in our text this morning, Paul addresses this crucial doctrine in two ways. He firstly provides us with the evidence for the resurrection and secondly he explains the significance of the resurrection:
• The evidence for Christ’s resurrection; and
• The significance of the Christ’s resurrection.
Let’s look first at the evidence for Christ’s resurrection.