Summary: Advent 6: The Resurrection is proof that Jesus’ work on the Cross was exactly what was needed to restore a sinful humanity to God.
There are people that have the absolutely uncanny ability to zero in on a problem. With laser-like precision, they can identify what’s going on and cut to the chase. If protests are raised, they can lay waste all arguments to the contrary, take no prisoners and accept no compromises as they ferret out the error.
When Sofi and I got married, I was in the very best shape of my life. My waist was a svelte 32 inches. I was slim and trim – almost no body fat - and I could run forever. But after getting married I ran less, ate more tortillas and spent more time in front of the TV. As you might imagine, after just a few years of not tending to a steady physical fitness regimen, I had added weight and a number of waist sizes.
Sofi accompanied me one day – about twenty years ago - to go buy some trousers. By then, my waist had grown and so I had to try on a pair of size 38 trousers. They really didn’t fit too well. So I tried another ‘fuller-cut’ sized 38 pair of slacks and still, no dice. It was like trying to stuff 50lbs of potatoes into a 25 pound sack. So in frustration, I said to Sofi, “Hey let’s get out of here, I’ll come back later to buy the pants.”
We left the store, but as the day wore on, I found myself snapping at my poor wife. The poor woman could do nothing right. She tried to deal with each of my little outbursts, but got nowhere because I was generally being a pain. I was irritable, grouchy and no fun to be around. My poor wife had tried to deal with me throughout the day, but finally Sofi just turned to me and said, “Listen, I know just enough psychology to understand that what is really eating at you is that you couldn’t fit into the trousers you wanted to buy.”
It was like a splash of cold water. With laser-like precision, Sofi was able to get at the root of what was really the problem. Her words cut through all the mess, and got me to realize that my boorish behavior was really not her doing but a matter of my own frustration. It was a good thing that she cut through all pretenses. It helped me to understand my behavior.
In the Epistle Lesson for today, we find St. Paul doing exactly that. Paul wrote the words from our lesson to a group of believers in the Greek city of Corinth. Now the Corinthian church had all kinds of issues to deal with. They had a very poor understanding of the Lord’s Supper and what it meant to gather to celebrate it. They had a misplaced sense of what it meant to receive the gifts of the Spirit and especially what it meant to speak in tongues. A controversy had developed in the church about the role of women in ministry. They didn’t know how to deal with the sexual practices and temptations that were so very common and very permissible in the Corinthian society. In short there were a whole lot of areas with which the Corinthian believers were struggling.
But there was one glaring error in an area that was fundamentally critical to the faith of this little ragtag group of Christians. That is the absolute fact that Jesus rose from the dead. The Christian faith clings to and lifts up this truth. It has meaning and direct impact on everything we do. It gets to where we live – literally, because Jesus’ Resurrection is all about life – our life! It is about the very deepest longing and perhaps the most powerful fears that we all have. Without this truth – that Christ is risen - nothing we do has meaning. Let’s read about it: [read Epistle Lesson here]
Most believe that some aspect of each person continues on after the death of the body. Many say that the only thing that the doctrine of the resurrection speaks about is the continued existence of the soul after the death of the body. Certainly this was the case with the Corinthians. The influence of the Greek thinkers had caused many of them to fall into the trap of thinking that the soul was the only redeemable part of humanity and that the body was hopelessly corrupted.
The same happens today. Most people today believe that our souls are the only thing eternal about humanity. Why? - Maybe because we have not witnessed the resurrection of anybody in our lifetime; Maybe because it just seems too incredible to believe that a literal bodily resurrection is possible.
Enter Paul. He applies God’s Word with such vise-like power that it cut to the very heart of the argument. He offers four propositions that cut to the chase. His purpose is to say: “If you are a Christian and you do not believe in the bodily resurrection from the dead, then you’ve got real problems. These are the four points that Paul makes: