God has given us a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (1 Peter 1:3). That hope is for this life, and for the life to come!
Psalm 149; 1 Corinthians, chapters 15-16
But tell me this – since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God – for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead.
And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.
Resurrection – Our Hope For This Life
Chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians is familiar to many people, primarily because of Paul’s discussion of the “resurrection body” in the last part of the chapter. “The perishable will become imperishable; the mortal will become immortal” (1 Corinthians 15:53, my paraphrase).
But in the first part of chapter 15, Paul begins this discussion by talking about Jesus’ resurrection. It’s clear from this passage that Jesus’ resurrection is the key to everything for Paul. If Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. Without the resurrection, there is no hope in Christianity. Those who promote a “faith” that does not include Christ’s resurrection apparently hope in human effort and achievement. After all, if God has not raised Christ from the dead, then what kind of power does God have?
But Christ has been raised, and because he has been raised, we have the assurance of God’s help here and now. Jesus promised to never leave us as orphans, but that he would come to us (John 14:18, NIV). How could he do that if he has not been raised? We have the promise of his presence, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Because Jesus lives, we have strength for each day!
Resurrection – Our Hope For the Future
But Paul does not rest with the idea of Jesus’ help for today. And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. Our hope is not “only” for the future, but it certainly is for the future! He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. Jesus himself said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).
And what is that hope? It is hope for a life in God’s eternal kingdom! “When our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
Application: Resurrection – Our Living Hope
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3, NASB). Everything “good” about the “good news” revolves around the resurrection. The resurrection is the display of God’s power over creation that confirms what Jesus has promised us. Think about it: Jesus told the disciples that he would rise again after his death. He couldn’t do that on his own; only God could do that! By raising Jesus, God affirmed the truth of everything that Jesus taught.
And the same God that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, through the presence of his Holy Spirit! The Spirit gives life, and daily affirms the living hope that we have in Jesus!
Father, thank you for reminding us of the living hope that we have because you raised Jesus from the dead. Help us to live in that hope today, by reflecting the presence and power of Christ. Because he lives, we live. And because he lives in us, you are making us more like him each day. That’s the hope of the resurrection – a hope that you are making us like Jesus. And one day, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is (1 John 3:2)! Amen.