Summary: Paul clarifies for the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15 why the Resurrection is the critical element of the Christian faith. It is not just a belief to be believed. It is a belief to be lived.
ZOMBIES, ZONKS & MAGIC ACTS
WHY DOES THE EASTER MESSAGE MATTER?
1 CORINTHIANS 15:12-33, 50-58
It was the first day of the week. Probably a little bit earlier than a sunrise service. Three women were making their way through the dimly lit streets of the community.
They are on their way to anoint the body of Jesus of Nazareth for burial. Everyone around had heard of Jesus. The events of the past few days; his parade style arrival in town; the raucous he had raised in the temple; his in-your-face confrontation with the religious leaders; his trial; his crucifixion and his death; had captured the attention of the community. Even the event of his burial had caused some commotion.
But they remembered that a stone had been ordered placed in the doorway of the tomb, and it had been sealed closed. There was no way that the stone could be moved. The stone, in the shape of a 6 or 7 foot disk, nearly one and a half feet thick, had been set in its grooves. It would take no less than several horses to pull it out.
The conversation the rest of the way to the tomb centered on how the stone could be moved, so burial preparations could be made. Could you imagine their surprise then, when they arrived at the tomb and found the stone removed from the entrance?
They went inside. And there sat a young man. He was dressed in a pure white robe. It was strange that he would be sitting in the tomb. He had caught them off guard and they were more than a little uneasy about him being there.
But what he said is what will never be forgetten. "Don't be afraid. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. Look at the place where they laid him. Go, go tell the disciples, he is alive as he said."
He's alive! He's alive!
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul takes and codifies the place of the resurrection as a principle piece of Christian doctrine:
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
Michael Green in Man Alive!: “Christianity does not hold resurrection to be one among many tenants of faith. Without faith in the resurrection there would be no Christianity at all. The Christian church would never have begun. The Jesus movement would have fizzled out like a damp squib with the crucifixion. Christianity stands of falls with the truth of the resurrection. Once disprove it, and you have disposed of it."
Have you ever tried to imagine what it would have been like to have been a witness to the resurrection? Have you ever placed yourself back in time to experience the excitement of the resurrection appearances? If you have, ultimately, you have had to wrestle with the question, "So what? What difference does the Easter message make?"
For Paul the answer is simple. The Easter message is the pivot point of Christian theology.
To answer “Why does the Easter message matter?” we should start with the question “What if the resurrection didn’t happen?”
If the resurrection didn’t happen …
Our faith is useless and futile (vs. 14, 17)
14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. – Useless means empty without substance.
Let’s make a deal! Monte Hall, now Wayne Brady … Let's Make a Deal is also known for the various unusual and crazy costumes worn by audience members, who dressed up that way in order to increase their chances of being selected as a trader. The show is based around deals offered to members of the audience by the host. The traders usually have to weigh the possibility of an offer for valuable prizes, or undesirable items, referred to as "Zonks".
These “Zonks” are the worth of our faith without the resurrection.
But since the resurrection occurred …
Our faith is validated and needs to be preserved (vs. 58)
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.
"Firm" is a construction term. It refers to the foundation of the building. The building is built on a solid foundation. It is not built on a foundation which is steadily shifting, like sand on the seashore.