Scripture Passage – 1 Corinthians 15:13
Description – June 3, 2012 Communion Meditation
I begin this morning by expanding our main text to include verses 12 through 23 of 1 Corinthians 15.
“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.
So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.”
Now much of the Christian faith focuses on the cross when it comes to talking about the forgiveness of our sins. And that is good because of the fact that when Jesus died on the cross a new way, a new covenant, to God was created. Out was the very old system of sacrificing animals in a certain way according to certain customs and in was a direct way to God via Jesus Christ that has become available to everyone who desires it.
But the resurrection was and is also a part of this new way to God. In fact to talk about the cross is telling only part of our salvation story. Without the resurrection, Paul notes there is no hope for anyone. So in light of our main text, I ask each of us this morning to consider this question What in your life needs resurrected by God?
Paul wrote our main text this morning in light of belief by some in the Corinthian church that the dead will never be resurrected. But that is not what the scriptures teach.
Jesus faced this same challenge as we read in Matthew 22 and verses 23-32. The Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead posed a story about a woman who was widowed seven times with the question, “whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.” Jesus’ response points to His belief that there will be a resurrection of the dead and that one’s marital status will not matter.
“Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven.
“But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead—haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’So he is the God of the living, not the dead.”
I know that people have a lot of questions about heaven and the final judgment and the resurrection of the dead, but those are best addressed in another message or a study setting with others. My focus this morning is on the resurrection power of Christ and how it is vital for our faith and life. And to give us some focus as we consider the need of a resurrection I offer 1 Corinthians 13:13: “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
Clearly, our greatest resurrection need is for our soul to be resurrected. Romans 10:9 makes this clear “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Communion is a remembrance of Christ’s death AND resurrection on our behalf. Paul clearly links the two parts together in this verse.
We are in need of a resurrection, coming back to life, of our souls. Without allowing the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ to operate in our hearts and souls, there is no hope for us. The human race needs a transformation! It is needs a resurrection experience. We cannot be, as Paul says, “new creation” without believing the resurrection of Jesus Christ!
What we believe in is what gives us hope and what gives us hope is where our faith lies.
And if we are honest, the glow of our early commitment to Christ eventually fades as time goes on. The devil and this fallen world wipe the sheen off of our souls. And, to borrow from the armor analogy in Ephesians 6, we get dents in our armor as we do battle with the enemy of our soul.
And our faith gets a workout. And it gets thin and weak.
We need a resurrection of our faith.
We are familiar with King David’s weakening faith. It led him to be involved in the murder of an innocent and honorable man because of an illicit affair with the man’s wife. Abraham’s faith weakened as he posed Sarah as his sister and not his wife and it caused problems for those who graciously welcomed them.
Truth be told, we all have dark spots on the skin of our faith. Cancerous lesions, that if left unchecked, can cause death.
Maybe the word “revived” instead of “resurrected” should be used in this message. And yet I think that we toss the word revival around like a well used baseball.
But instead of being revived, maybe our faith needs to be resurrected! That it is in need of major surgery and not a simple booster shot.
How is your faith in Christ this morning? Does it need a resurrection?
If we believe that “what we believe in is what gives us hope and what gives us hope is where our faith lies” then if our faith is need of a resurrection our hope must also be in need of a resurrection.
Peter is an example of this kind of a resurrection and I suggest that his campfire conversation with Jesus in John 21 is a resurrection of his hope as well as his faith and love.
Think with me for a minute. Have you ever betrayed someone? It is a very painful thing, isn’t it? A relationship is wounded and perhaps, like Humpty Dumpty, can never be put back together again.
But Peter did not betray Jesus did he? He denied Jesus.
Judas betrayed Him.
Denial, too, is a very powerful thing. There have been parents who have denied that their kids can do anything wrong or did anything wrong in the face of clear evidence to the contrary. There are spouses who deny the truth about the abuse in their relationships to the point of death.
As I think about Peter standing there, first next to Jesus at the moment of his arrest, then in the courtyard, at a distance, I cannot help but believe something in him died as he watched Jesus be led away and be crucified.
It was his hope.
He was not alone in those hours. Others’ hope died as well.
I don’t know about you but I would rather feel anything but hopeless. To feel hopeless is to feel like there are no more options. That nothing better is going to come along.
No one cares. No one can help.
It’s no use.
Our hope needs a resurrection from time to time.
What about yours?
Finally I ask “Does your love need resurrected?”
I am beginning to believe at this point in my life, that we have two choices when it comes to love. That we can both ignore the roots of love and constantly pick its fruit for our self-centered enjoyment or we can tend the roots of love and allow the fruit to become rich and full and more nourishing to our hearts and souls. We seem in our culture to want to pay attention to the fruit, the glamour, the pizzazz of love and forget about the need for love to have deep roots.
Peter’s faith and hope had taken a beating. I think Jesus knew this.
So He (Jesus) was going to see if there was any love left. And there was. “A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”
Notice please that Jesus did not say, “Ok, good to know that Peter, thanks, I needed to hear that.”
No, He told Peter, “Then feed my sheep.”
He is saying, “Show me that you love Me. Take care of those to whom I have given you responsibility. Do something with your love for me.”
So what does all of this mean for us this week?
We all believe in something. That is what faith is about.
We all hope for something grand and meaningful in life. That is why we dream and have hopes for the future.
We all want to love and be loved. That is why we seek to love and be loved in return.
Faith, hope, and love bring meaning to life. But to bring the right kind of meaning to life, a Christ-centered meaning, we must have a faith, a hope, and a love that is alive and powered by and through the Holy Spirit.
One of my favorite hymns begins, “I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today. I know that He is living whatever man may say.”
As we take communion together this morning I remind us that we serve a RISEN savior! We do not believe in a dead god!
And because He is risen, we can be risen from spiritual deadness as well!
Let us be resurrected this morning by the Lord! Let’s have a resurrected faith, a resurrected hope, and a resurrected love!
Let us celebrate as we take communion together!
He is risen!