But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20, NASB).
Last week, churches around the world celebrated Resurrection Day, or Easter, commemorating the Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the grave. 1 Corinthians 15 presents an abundance of facts about Christian resurrection. The apostle Paul conveys truths about Christ’s resurrection, and the future resurrections of all people who have placed their faith in Him for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Some of these certainties include:
- The risen Christ appeared to Peter and all of Christ’s faithful disciples according to 1 Corinthians 15:5 (excluding Judas, who had committed suicide as detailed in Matthew 27:3-5).
- The risen Jesus appeared to more than 500 of His followers including His half-brother James (who didn’t believe in Jesus until after the resurrection; see John 7:5 and Acts 1:14).
- Approximately five years after His resurrection and return to heaven, the risen Jesus Christ appeared to a zealous persecutor of Christians and the early church named Saul (who became the apostle Paul, see 1 Corinthians 15:8, 9).
- In 1 Corinthians 15:20 the word asleep is a figure of speech for physical death. Jesus became the first individual raised from the dead with a resurrection body that will never die again.
- Following death and after being resurrected, followers of Jesus will receive glorified, imperishable bodies that will last forever (1 Corinthians 15:42; 49-54).
Even though skeptics and doubters have existed since the first century, and some exist today, Jesus’ resurrection continues to be the cornerstone of the Christian faith. Christianity stands or falls on whether or not Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead is true.
In the first century, both Jesus’ followers, and His enemies, admitted the tomb of Jesus was no longer occupied. His followers proclaimed He rose from the dead. But, according to Matthew 28:11-15, the Jewish religious leaders bribed the Roman soldiers to state Jesus’ disciples store the body while these guards slept. Their position requires more imagination than Jesus’ actual resurrection! How many people recall actual events and occurrences while they sleep? So, if the soldiers slept instead of being on watchful duty, how did they know who stole the body? Keep in mind, the invention of security cameras will not take place for another 1900+ years!
Credible historical evidence endures for Jesus’ tomb being empty three days after His crucifixion. The Lord Jesus Christ is a living Savior. Be encouraged by these words of hope from the apostle John:
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is (1 John 3:2, NASB).
Pastor Cecil Price