1 Corinthians 15:8-19
…and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. 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 of all people most to be pitied.
For several years I lived in what is considered the most “Christian” country in Africa. What’s so startling is that this country also experienced the most horrific genocide in Africa of the 20th century. Each year in April they commemorate this 100-day genocide and the entire country shuts down to mourn, remember and commit to a path of “Never Again.”
One year, the first day of the genocide commemoration coincided with Easter Sunday. The President issued a pronouncement that churches were not to be too celebratory, nor shout Hallelujah on Easter Sunday. Befuddled, I discussed this with a devout Christian colleague who responded in favor of the government edict. My response to her was in essence 1 Corinthians 15:17 & 19. I said, “Esperance, if Jesus isn’t resurrected, then there is absolutely no answer to the genocide and we have no reason for hope.”
1 Corinthians 15:8-19 is a rich passage that speaks to the undeniable importance of the resurrection. Verse 17 shares, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” Our faith is nothing without the resurrection. If Jesus didn’t rise again, then death and sin have won. Our sins have not been paid for and we cannot be saved. Without the resurrection there is no reconciliation of all that is broken in the world and in us; we remain in sin and there is no hope.
Through his resurrection, Jesus Christ made a way for sinful people to be redeemed. If Jesus is dead, then he may have had some nice things to say, but they are merely platitudes. But Jesus promised he would rise again and defeat death and he did just that. The resurrection proves that everything he said about the Gospel – God’s love, grace, and mercy – is true. Christ’s resurrection means that death and suffering, even in a horrific genocide, do not have the final word. But let’s not limit the impact of Christ’s death and resurrection to egregious sins. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and rising again provide effectual payment for our own sins which we so easily excuse, like pride, envy, or lust. Even more, the resurrection provides eternal life for all who trust in Jesus: a future hope where all that is wrong will be made right and where God’s people will dwell in perfect peace, worshipping our Savior forever!
If that’s not a reason to shout “Hallelujah”, I don’t know what is!
Note: Each day’s devotional is written by a different member of the GRC family.