Summary: The wonder of Easter is found in the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave. The tomb is empty and our Lord lives! This message invites us to consider our lives in the light of the resurrection of Christ, the new life we can have in
The Resurrection that Was, and Is, and Is to Come - 1 Corinthians 15:12-23 - April 24, 2011
(Resurrection Sunday and Communion Service)
Thomas Jefferson is a name many of you are to likely recognize this morning. In his time he was the principle author of the Declaration of Independence, he was a Founding Father of a new nation, and he served as the 3rd president of the United States of America. Of the 44 men who have held that office, there are many today who would consider Thomas Jefferson to be amongst the greatest of them. He was a man who was intensely interested in theology and who studied the Bible fervently. In his private letters, of which he wrote some 16,000, he refers to himself as “a Christian,” yet he rejected the divinity of Jesus. He claimed to appreciate the moral teachings of the one whom we call the Christ, yet scoffed at the miracles. In fact he went so far as to take the Gospels, and to rewrite them, or to edit them, intentionally leaving out the miraculous workings of God. www.en.wikipedia.org – Thomas Jefferson
Now, ‘Gospel,’ is a word that means, ‘Good News.’ I’ve tried to figure out what the good news of the Gospels would be if the miraculous were to be removed. Gone would be the virgin birth of Jesus. Absent would be the healings and the restorations – no blind men receiving their sight back; no lepers being made new; no lame leaping with joy. Distinctly banished from his edited works would be any atonement for sin; no resurrection of Jesus from the dead; no ascension of the risen Christ into heaven. As far as Jefferson was concerned Jesus is still in the tomb today.
And there are many in our day who think just as Jefferson did. There are many today who comb through the pages of the Gospels and seek to remove all of the inexplicable, to do away with the unexplainable. They claim to be seeking the ‘historical Jesus,’ not realizing that as they scoff at the miracles, that they are destroying the very thing they are looking to find.
Keep those things in mind for a few moments more. I’m going to ask you to open your Bibles with me, this morning, to the book of 1 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians 15 and we’ll begin reading in verse 12. If you do not have a Bible, and would like to follow along as I read from the Word of God, you can simply raise your hand and an usher would be pleased to bring you a Bible and, if you would like, that Bible can be yours to keep. It would be our gift to you this morning. Anyone in need of a Bible? … Alright, verse 12 …
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 1 Corinthians 15:12-23
Ladies and Gentleman, today is Resurrection Sunday and I am here to tell you that Thomas Jefferson was wrong. The tomb is empty! Jesus has risen from the grave! That’s why we are here this morning! Amen? Amen! … And I want to speak with you this morning about the resurrection – the resurrection that was, the resurrection that is, and the resurrection that is to come, and I want us to understand together what these things mean for us today. Because it doesn’t do us any good to take the word of God, learn it, but not let it touch our lives. So what we want to do every time we open our Bibles is to discover how the Word of God, informs, impacts, and influences our lives day to day.