Summary: This is a sermon that starts to get us in the Lenten mood by focusing on the resurection of Jesus Christ being true.
Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
Intro - Verse 12 (Scripture starts with a big if = today’s if for all of us)
Now if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection from the dead? If there is no resurrection from the dead, than Christ himself has not been raised.
I would like to start out today talking about Joseph of Aramathaia. Joseph of Aramathaia was a very prominent and wealthy Pharisee who was very well known and powerful in his region. He was one of those guys who it was “good to know” so that you could have him on your side pulling some strings for you. He enters into our discussion because he was also a follower of Jesus Christ.
He was the one who requested Jesus’ body from Pilate, gave up his own tomb, and paid for all the very expensive spices for his burial. Now his tomb was one of the very nicest of the area, probably hand carved into the rock.
A few weeks after all the ruckus of that very first easter, a few of Joseph’s closests friends came to ask him if he had gone insane giving away so much, giving up the finest burial plot in all the area - to a convict! Joseph smiling simply replied, “It was nothing… he only needed it for the weekend.”
Those who were there had a very easy time coming to terms with Jesus’ resurrection being a very true hard fact. How can you doubt when you have him standing in front of you inviting you to put your hands upon his wounds.
However, from the very beginning… those who were not there questioned… doubted… That is where we find ourselves in our text today. Paul is dealing with this very problem as he writes to the Corinthian church. It is not anything new to us… in fact… you will find the arguments they lodge still very fresh in our own ears… still appropriate to our own time… as they ask those questions that so many people have asked. Who is Jesus? Jesus was just a good man. Jesus was just a prophet. Jesus was a teacher. Nothing more. He gives us a good moral example to live by and to follow… nothing more. All that talk about resurrection are just fairytales, and really don’t mean anything anyway. That is what they were saying 2000 years ago.
It also happens to be what they are saying today… in our adult Sunday School class we have been talking about all the different world Religions, and one thing that comes up time and time again… is that they respect Christianity, respect Jesus Christ, but do not believe in his resurrection, do not believe in his divinity. He is, like we have already said, a good moral example.
So I have a question for you to ponder… So what? What difference does it make? As a moral example, it doesn’t matter if Jesus raised from the grave or not! As a leader, his death was enough to provoke his followers into action, we don’t need to invent a resurrection. As a religion, our focus should be on how we act and we need nothing more than Jesus’ life to guide us through that. So what?
Well… Paul very clearly lays out the so what for us.
Problem 1 - Verse 13
Then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God the he raised Christ.