1 Corinthians 15.12-19
Apparently some in the Corinthian church, or some influencing them, were denying the resurrection of the dead. Paul will have none of this silliness. Why? Because Christ rose from the dead. If there is no resurrection from the dead, then not even Christ rose. What would this mean? Everything is hopeless. Our faith is in vain, God is a liar, we are still in our sins, and we are most to be pitied.
God’s No to Hopelessness
The wonderful, mind-blowing truth is that Christ has indeed risen from the dead. This has implications for everything, literally everything. The resurrection was God’s final and ultimate NO! to Satan, the destruction and consequences of sin, and all evil. The resurrection was God’s final and ultimate no to man’s ruin, misery, and death. The resurrection was God’s final and ultimate no to absolutely everything that attempts to destroy, subvert, and undo God’s will for his good creation.
‘The meaning of the resurrection, as Saint Paul presents it, is that it is God’s final and decisive word on the life of his creature, Adam…in the second Adam the first is rescued. The deviance of his will, its fateful leaning towards death, has not been allowed to uncreate what God created.’ Oliver O’Donovan
All that is included in the fact that our faith is not in vain. God’s no to everything against his purposes was at the same time God’s YES! to everything Christ was and did for us. The resurrection is the amen from God that Christ was the perfect sacrifice, providing forgiveness of sins, and the final say on what will happen to God’s creation. It was God’s amen to the fact that Christ was truly the Son of God. Without the resurrection we are left to guess if God would really continue with his creation. Would he just scrap it and start again? Will sin and death have the final say? Will vanity win in the end? No, because Christ is risen from the dead!
This is a source of inexhaustible hope. It is a source of hope not only in the face of death, but a source of hope for us here and now. If the only hope we have is found in this world, we indeed of all people are most to be pitied; but the resurrection gives us hope in the life to come, and in this life. It gives us hope because it says that this creation, and my life in creation, is not in vain, and that I, and the creation in which I live, work, suffer, ache, rejoice, and travel in, will reach its final end in and through Christ. This hope opens up the way before our feet, even if that space is only space enough to wait patiently. Our faith is not futile, vain, or empty. Christ is risen.
The day of resurrection! Earth, tell it out abroad;
The Passover of gladness, the Passover of God.
From death to life eternal, from this world to the sky,
Our Christ hath brought us over with hymns of victory.
Our hearts be pure from evil, that we may see aright
the Lord in rays eternal of resurrection light;
and listening to his accents, may hear, so calm and plain,
his own ‘All hail!’ And hearing, may raise the victor strain.
Now let the heav’ns be joyful, let earth her song begin;
let the round world keep triumph, and all that is therein;
invisible and visible, their notes let all things blend,
for Christ the Lord the risen, our joy that hath no end.
– John of Damascus