Summary: Belief in the resurrection carries with it implicastions for the way we live out our lives.
The Call to Worship had just been pronounced starting Easter Sunday Morning service in an East Texas church. The choir started its processional, singing "Up from the Grave He Arose" as they marched in perfect step down the center aisle to the front of the church. The last lady was wearing shoes with very slender heels. Without a thought for her fancy heels, she marched toward the grating that covered that hot air register in the middle of the aisle. Suddenly the heel of one shoe sank into the hole in the register grate. In a flash she realized her predicament. Not wishing to hold up the whole processional, without missing a step, she slipped her foot out of her shoe and continued marching down the aisle. There wasn’t a hitch. The processional moved with clock-like precision. The first man after her spotted the situation and without losing a step, reached down and pulled up her shoe, but the entire grate came with it! Surprised, but still singing, the man kept on going down the aisle, holding in his hand the grate with the shoe attached. Everything still moved like clockwork. Still in tune and still in step, the next man in line stepped into the open register and disappeared from sight. The service took on a special meaning that Sunday, for just as the choir ended with "Allelujah! Christ arose!" a voice was heard under the church shouting..."I hope all of you are out of the way ’cause I’m coming out now!" The little girl closest to the aisle shouted, "Come on, Jesus! We’ll stay out of the way."
In every survey I have seen on the subject, the vast Americans say they believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The figure averages around 80% of all Americans. But I have a suspicion. If I were to ask each of you this morning “to explain how the resurrection of Christ impacts your life”, many would find it difficult to make a connection. How does the fact that a jewish man 2000 years ago died and rose from the dead speak to contemporary man. Is Jesus resurrection just a fact in history to be acknowledged or is it the matrix that unlocks the meaning of life? I’ve titled this sermon the “so what” of the resurrection.
Paul lays it on the line when he says in verse 14, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”. He goes on to say in verses 17-19, “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. For Paul and the early church, the resurrection was the foundation of the churches life and message. Without the resurrection there is no Christianity, might be one way to paraphrase Paul.
Heres what Cambridge scholar N.T Wright has to say about the subject, Why did christianity arise, and why did it take the shape it did? The early Christians themselves reply: We exist because of Jesus’ resurrection…. There is no evidence for a form of early Christianity in which the resurrection was not a central belief. Nor was this belief, as it were, bolted on to Christianity at the edge. It was the central driving force, informing the whole movement. In the fifteenth chapter of Corinthians, Pauls makes the strategic connection between Jesus rising from the dead our search for meaning in life.
First the resurrection demonstrates God’s power over death. Listen to what Paul says beginning in verse 20 (Message translaton), “But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.
Then moving on to verse 25, “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. When Jesus rose on easter morning, you might say that death received it’s death sentence. Like a convicted criminal that has been over for execution, Death still exists, but its fate was sealed the day, Jesus rose from the tomb. Those who follow Jesus in life, will follow him in death, but will also follow him in resurrection..
Some of my most meaningful times as a pastor come in conducting funerals. One of the things that really bugs the heck out of me is to go to a funeral service and here beautiful music, to listen to fine words of affirmation for the contributions of the deceased, only to never hear the resurrection proclaimed, hello. We should always seek to honor the memory of the person who has died, but the central affirmation at a funeral is not the good works of the person, but the resurrection of Jesus Christ. No matter how good the person was in this life, no matter how many things they accomplished during their years, these things are inadequate to bring a message of hope to those sitting in the pews starring death straight in the face. The resurrection gives the message that death is not the final word. Our hope for life beyond the grave doesn’t come from our good works, it doesn’t come from some greek idea of the eternal nature of the soul, our hopes lies in the one, who has conquered death and can lead us through death to resurrection. That’s why Paul can say in verses 54-56, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.