Of all the things that would surprise me the most it would be a person I have loved and who has been dead for some time coming back to life not just as the sad form they may have been through sickness or old age but in radiant ‘rude’ health! Totally unexpected.
But that’s what happened with Christ’s resurrection.
He wasn’t recognized at first after his resurrection because it was unexpected by his disciples. No doubt he was not the disfigured form they last saw on the cross.
One aspect of Christ’s resurrection is that it was totally unexpected. It had no precursor. The eighteenth century philosophers such as Hume and Voltaire did not understand they were misapplying the principle of analogy to Christ’s resurrection. There was no analogy.
Thus is the great power of God against the greatest enemy known to human beings.
Indeed the apostle Paul gives the worst of enemies(death) the best of names(sleep); cf 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14. A great comfort in the face of the grave! So Christian hope for the future is grounded in the certainty of the past. Jesus died; Christians die; Jesus rose; therefore Christians will. Because Christ has risen there is Hope.
But hope for what? The book of Revelation chapters 21 & 22 gives us a picture of a New Heaven & a New Earth which God is preparing for those who have found forgiveness and new life in Christ.
· Intimacy 21:7,9.
· Community 22:2
· Security 21:12.
· Perfection 21:21.
Lots of solidly based hope…
but also warnings for ignoring this.
In 1971 John Lennon the former Beatle front man wrote the haunting song, Imagine
“ Imagine there’s no heaven , its easy if you try,
no hell below us, above us only sky;
Imagine all the people living for today.”
It is a brilliant expression of the wistful longing of many people; a longing for a happy life now with nothing beyond. But more realistic is the uncertainty & fear which so many face in death.
“Death itself is nothing, but this we fear:
to be we know not what, we know not where”.
Easter claims the answers to life & death through the resurrection of Christ. Here the dead man is raised to life as clear proof that there is life beyond the grave.
Six Implications from 1 Corinthians 15.
- Death is not the end. All will be raised. V42. You can’t judge a dead person. The world to come broke through into this world through Christ’s resurrection. This world is not all there is. John Lennons song is ‘pure imagination’.
- All will be judged. There will be a Day of reckoning that we must all face. It’s distressing especially if you don’t fear just for yourself but for loved ones also. But also it’s a good thing. The alternative to no judgement is fearful. For example the German Nazi leaders did what they liked because they thought they would never have to give account.
- It’s universal. The promise of the Bible is that no one escapes justice.
- Jesus is the judge. Acts 17:31. He is best judge because He is God & will get the judgement exactly right because he is in full possession of the facts. Cf Psalm 139. Unlike earthly courts there will be no wrong judgements because of facts misinterpreted. At the same time Jesus understands what its like to be human. Therefore he will be able to sympathize & understand what we have been through.
- Judgement divides. V43 People will be divided into two groups. There is a clear demarcation here . Those who believe in Christ & receive forgiveness & those who say “No”. That really is the decision. Are we going to believe in Christ & seek his forgiveness or are we going to pay ourselves? It’s a very serious thing.
- Obviously if our lifestyle has flown in the face of God’s call to loving him and our neighbour in spite of a profession of faith then that has serious consequences before God who knows all things.
Conclusion & summary.
You can rejoice in the hope of the resurrection. & look death in the face. You can know that Jesus is our bridge to heaven. By this resurrection he leads us to eternal. Life. The past certainty of the resurrection gives us future hope.
You need to heed this tremendous warning that we will all be raised & judged.