1 Corinthians 15:1-11 — Now That We Got All That Stuff Settled; Can We Get Back to the Main Point of Why We Are Here?

Posted: August 6, 2015 in 46-1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 15:1-11 — Have you ever been a meeting and things got off track? Have you ever listened to a speech or a sermon that you can’t remember what the point of it was? Have you ever had a conversation with your wife and she has to give you all the background information in addition to the facts and you forget what she was really trying to tell you? This is kind of where Paul is when he gets to this point in his letter to the Corinthians that we know now as 1 Corinthians.

After spending the last couple of chapters instructing the Corinthian church what was important in worship, he now reminds them of why we are all here together in what Jesus called his church. All of the churchy stuff is meaningless if it is not all about the gospel message. Proper order in church is meaningless if the point of it all is not the worship of God and spreading the message of His love for us through the message of Jesus Christ. There are two things that shout off the page in this passage that we must consider. First, it is this point that we are all here because of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord. Second, it is through His grace that we are here and we must remember that it He that is working through us for we are just His humble servants. That’s why we are here. Today, let’s take a look at the central reason we are here, the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

The central theme of the gospel is expressed in vv. 3-4 of this passage. First, Christ died for our sins just as foretold in Scripture. Without this truth, Christ’s death was meaningless and those of us who believe in Him would still be awash in the penalty of our sins. We would have no hope. However, Christ, as the sinless Son of God, took on the punishment for the sins of all mankind, including you and me, so that those who believe in Him can have their sins and the penalty for them removed. Jesus’ death on the cross was no accident. It was foretold in Psalms 16 and Isaiah 53. It was no afterthought or some coincidence that God worked into His plan. It was THE plan all along. Jesus was to come at the fullness of time (which was afforded by the expansiveness of the Roman Empire) and live a perfect and sinless life and then complete the Old Testament sacrificial system by being that perfect, completely perfect sacrifice (as He was perfect as His Father and the Holy Spirit are perfect and eternally so) for sin. It was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. Jesus had to die only once because of His perfection for it to be complete for all who believe and will believe in Him.

Second, Christ was buried. He died a physical death. Many, over the centuries have tried to discount his death. Some say Jesus was only unconscious and later was revived. This is ludicrous. We are talking the Roman army here. If anything, the Roman occupiers were ruthless and efficient in killing those who opposed the empire. Once sentenced to death, it would have been done completely and to the end. They even drove a spear into his side to make sure that He was dead. So the Roman Empire, with the most efficient army in the world, with men assigned a specific task by which their service to the empire was measured, just missed this one. They just gave Jesus a pass. Don’t think for a minute that a soldier in the Roman Army assigned the duty of crucifixion and this would have been his job as a soldier that He would not have been good at it and would not have known whether Jesus was dead or not. From a theological perspective, the death is necessary. Without Jesus’ death, His physical death, the penalty would not have been paid. Almost dying does not pay the penalty of sin in God’s sacrificial system. The animals in the OT system had to give their life up and Jesus as the completion of that system had to give his life up. He had to die for their to be payment for the penalty caused by sin. Without it there is an unpaid debt and we are still under the penalty of the law. Thus, thank God, Jesus actually died a physical death. The debt, my debt, your debt, is paid when He died.

Others doubt the resurrection as real. But my friends it is real and it is necessary just as much as Jesus death was necessary. Some say Mary Magdalene and the other ladies mistook the grave. First, the gospels say that they followed and saw where the grave was the day before. Second, Peter and John were taken by them to the same tomb by these same ladies. Therefore, we have several verifications of the empty grave. Remember too that in first century Jewish society, women were second class citizens when it came to legal rights to the point that they could not even testify in court because their testimony was discounted as unreliable. Why then were the first people to witness the resurrection were women? Why not skip that part. If the gospel writers were fabricating all this why then did they have the first people to see the empty tomb be women? It must be because they were not trying to hide the truth. They were just telling the truth. No one has ever disputed these facts, even Jesus’ contemporaries who were responsible, from a human perspective, for nailing him to the cross.

Some say the body was stolen by thieves. Why? Why would anyone really do this? They might steal stuff from a tomb but even Jewish thieves would not have stole a body – not exactly easy to hide as you are walking along the road. Besides, the tomb was sealed and was guarded by Roman soldiers who could have easily subdued thieves. Some say the disciples stole the body. The disciples went to their graves believing in the resurrected Jesus. They were all martyred in one way or another for this belief. Stealing Jesus body would have made this all a lie. Would you die for a lie if you didn’t have to? Some say the Jewish leaders stole the body. Why? Why would they do this? Why did they never produce the body to quiet the rumors of resurrection if they had the body?

Then there were many, many people that saw the resurrected Jesus during the days after his resurrection. If this is all just a figment of gospel writer imagination, then why did no one dispute the facts of the gospels and the Pauline letters? All of the New Testament books can be proven to have been written between 15 and 60 years after Jesus death. Most of the New Testament books then were written while eyewitnesses were still alive – even enemies of Jesus and his subsequent church. None of this story was disputed then. And a lie would not have lasted centuries.

The resurrection is real. It happened. From a theological perspective, it is as necessary as it is real. Without the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus is important for several reasons. According to gotquestions.com, First, it witnesses to the immense power of God Himself. To believe in the resurrection is to believe in God. If God exists, and if He created the universe and has power over it, He has power to raise the dead. If He does not have such power, He is not a God worthy of our faith and worship. Only He who created life can resurrect it after death, only He can reverse the hideousness that is death itself, and only He can remove the sting that is death and the victory that is the grave’s (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). In resurrecting Jesus from the grave, God reminds us of His absolute sovereignty over life and death.

Second, the resurrection of Jesus is a testimony to the resurrection of human beings, which is a basic tenet of the Christian faith. Unlike all other religions, Christianity alone possesses a founder who transcends death and who promises that His followers will do the same. All other religions were founded by men and prophets whose end was the grave. As Christians, we take comfort in the fact that our God became man, died for our sins, and was resurrected the third day. The grave could not hold Him. He lives, and He sits today at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. In that lies our hope. In that lies our victory over what happens to us. In that we have hope no matter the situation. We know that we will be resurrected from the cruelty of death and join Jesus in heaven. Man that is good stuff!

When taken in the context of the previous passages, where Paul tries to end the divisiveness of the church by settling numerous issues. He then proceeds to remind us of this story. The real truth of Jesus Christ. God who became man in the flesh. God who died on the cross for our sins. God who rose from the dead and has victory over sin and death. Paul says “Hey, Church, now that we have all these petty issues settled, can we now get back to the real reason we are here? Jesus Christ, baby! That’s why we are here! Never forget that!” Isn’t that why we are here today! To personally worship Jesus Christ, to grow in our relationship with HIm, and to tell others about Him. That is it. That’s the story. That’s the mission! That’s why we are here!

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