Summary: God used the cross and the grave and took them from horrible to the most positive things that ever happened in human history.
The Cross, The Grave, The Resurrection
HE IS ALIVE!
First Corinthians is Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth. The church had been founded and established during Paul’s second missionary journey, and he is writing this letter to address problems in the church. The 15th chapter is devoted to clearing up misconceptions concerning Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, and also the resurrection of the dead in general.
In verse 1, Paul says to the Corinthians, “I declare [to declare means to make known or to reveal] unto you the same thing I already preached unto you.” What Paul is saying is “I am going to remind you of the things I have already made known to you. Nothing has changed. I’m not going to add to what I already said, and I am not going to take away from what I already said. I am not going to change my mind about what I already said. If it worked then, it will work now.” Sometimes all it takes is a reminder for some people in order for them to start believing in what they had already accepted. Peter called it stirring up the mind by way of remembrance.
The Corinthians had gotten saved through the Gospel Paul had preached. And it did not make sense to preach something different because a few people had started to get weak and were questioning the validity of the Gospel message. They were wondering whether Christ was really resurrected from the dead and they were not sure about their own resurrection.
If the Gospel has enough power to save you, it has enough power to keep you! The Gospel says if you believe on Christ you will be saved, and the same Gospel says Christ was raised from the dead. The Gospel is either all right or all wrong; not half right and half wrong. For me, I’m going to come down on the side of those who believe the Gospel is all right. Tell someone “The Gospel is all right.”
In our text, Paul mentions three things that are vital and important to our Christian faith and salvation. They are the hinges that our faith and salvation hangs on. As a door hangs on its hinges in order to function properly, our faith and salvation hangs on the cross, the grave and the resurrection. Paul says to the Corinthians in verse 3 “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how Christ died (the cross) for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried (the grave) and that He rose again the third day (the resurrection) according to the scriptures.”
And He was first seen of Peter and the 12 Apostles. Then He was seen by more than 500 people at once, and then He was seen of James and all the Apostles, and then He was seen of me. Paul is saying He is alive! Too many people have seen Him for Him not to be alive!
God is truly amazing. Here He takes the cross and the grave, which are probably two of the most negative things that could happen to an individual, and He turns them into the most positive things that ever happened in human history.
The cross is probably the most horrible instrument of death ever used in human history. This type of execution was generally reserved for hardened criminals. Being beheaded was a picnic compared to the cross. On the cross, a person would suffer for hours and sometimes days before they would actually die. And to add insult to injury in Jesus’ case, He did nothing worthy of death. On top of that, He was made to carry His own cross along Via Dolorosa, which means “the way of sorrow”. Remember now, He did nothing wrong. He did not kill anyone. He did not lie on anyone. He did not commit adultery. He did not steal anything, but yet He allowed Himself to be put on a horrible cross and He died a horrible death. He did it for you; He did it so you could be right with God.
After His death, He was placed in a grave, called a tomb. When I think of a grave or graveyard, my thoughts are of something that is morbid. I picture a gruesome and grisly scene and I usually respond with the words of “how cruel”. To take someone who was designed with a body to exist on top of the earth and put them in a hole and cover them up is cruel to me. Even the Bible calls the grave cruel. Songs of Solomon 8:6 says that jealousy is as cruel as the grave. If you are a jealous person, you are no better than a graveyard.