Witnessing to the Resurrection
Date: April 20, 2003 Where: SHMC
Sermon Title: Rumors of the Resurrection
Text: 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, 12-14, 51-58
W. L: Ewald Goetz
We like to hear rumors…
We even like to spread rumors…
Rumors tell us that there is
something important going on.
Like… someone is engaged…
or having a baby…
or someone is sick and dying…
or that there is something going on…
on the other side of time!
In song and in Word
we have heard rumors that Jesus Christ is alive.
The sting of death could not hold Jesus in the grave.
And in His resurrection
we shall also be made alive.
This is the boldest claim in all of human history…
that a mortal man, who has died and was burried
Was raised from the dead.
On this Easter morning we will
look at the Resurrection passage from 1 Cor. 15.
The questions that Paul answers in this passage
are undoubtedly in response to the rumors…
This is also the question that we ask,
when we stand at the grave of a loved one.
“What happens when we die?”
The fundamental question upon which
our entire Christian faith rests is this,
“Did Jesus actually, literally and physically
rise from the dead?”
Is the rumor true?
Everything hangs on this question.
Furthermore, what does that mean for us
on this side of eternity?
In 1 Cor. 15 Paul affirms that Jesus
really was raised from the dead.
And, listen to this….
his resurrection has exciting implications
for our life now
and for all eternity.
Our hope in Christ is not only for this life
but also for the eternal life that awaits us.
In one of the most daring passages in the Bible,
the Apostle Paul is adressing
the ultimate enemy of mankind.
And he makes a bold declaration
that Jesus is Alive.
The rumor is true!
“In case you didn’t get it,
let me remind you of the central point
of all my preaching.” Says Paul.
This is the foundation of our faith.
I’m telling you, what I have also received…”
Jesus Christ himself had revealed this to him…
when he appeared to him as the risen Lord.
And here is the Word from the Lord
that is of such great and fundamental importance?
"That Christ died for our sins
in accordance with the scriptures."
That is the first element.
That is where the Good News begins.
The Good News is that Christ died for our sins
according to the Scriptures.
The Law and the Prophets predicted
his death for our sins.
Christ’s death accomplished something for us.
It changed us, it delivered us, it set us free.
On the cross He dealt with our failures,
he dealt with our rebellion,
he dealt with our sinful, guilty lives.
Without that conviction, our life would be hopeless.
The second element of the Gospel according to Paul,
is that Jesus not only "died for our sins
in accordance with the scriptures"
but he was also "buried."
Why does Paul include the burial of Jesus?
Is it not enough to say
that Jesus died and rose again?
No! This is significant for the reason that
when his disciples came and took
the body of Jesus down from the cross,
it marked their acceptance of his death.
If you have stood at the grave of a loved one
you know how hard it was for the disciples
to accept the fact that Jesus died?
They did not want to believe it when he told them
that he was going to die.
They refused to accept it;
they shut their minds to it.
When Jesus was arrested, tried and crucified
they went away stunned and unbelieving,
unwilling to accept
that all their hopes and dreams,
should come up empty.
But, when they realized that he was dead
They accepted the fact,
And they took his body down from the cross,
they wrapped it in grave clothes,
and laid him in a grave.
There is no question that the disciples
knew that he was dead.
They could never have believed the false rumors
that he had merely fainted on the cross,
or that he was in a coma,
because they had burried him.
That is a significant truth of the Gospel message.
They accepted that Jesus was truly dead.
There were NO special effects.
No magic trick from God.
The third element is,
"that he was raised on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures."
Remember the question?
Did Jesus actually, literally, and physically,
rise from the dead?
Yes! Paul affirms this with full conviction!
There is an entire chorus of voices from the 1st century
that say loudly and clearly,
"Yes, he did rise from the dead!
We saw him!
We talked with him!
We touched him!
We ate and drank with him!”
It was unmistakably Jesus.
We recognized him by the marks of crucifixion
on his side and on his hands and feet.
The claim of Jesus’ resurrection
rests on the claim of countless eye witnesses
who saw him alive.
“Just ask Cephas (Peter) and the twelve,
after that He was seen by
over five hundred brethren at once,
(Most of them were still alive
when Paul wrote this)
and by James and all the apostles.
and by Paul also on the Road to Damascus.”
It is on the testimony of these people
that we believe today that He is alive!
Someone might argue that when you take away
the Bible still has many truths left
Take for instance all those wonderful teachings
of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
We would still have his death for our sins,
And many other essencial truths…
But the point that Paul is making is that,
without the resurrection,
not one of those things would do us
any bit of good.
The death of Jesus would only
hold out to us an empty promise
that could never be fulfilled.
Without the resurrection
all Christian faith would be useless and empty.
20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, (1 Cor 15:20a NIV)
What a difference that makes!
The most fundamental claim for our life,
in all the history of the world,
is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Why is this so significant?
Because as Paul says,
“Since through the transgression of the first Adam
all must die,
so also through the resurrection of the last Adam
all who are in Christ will be made alive.”
Christ is the first to rise from the dead
And we also, who are in Christ,
will rise with him.”
This is why the resurrection has meaning for us…
The resurrection is the great event,
the great transformation that is coming.
If we believe in Christ,
we no longer need to be afraid of death.
Instead, the promise of our resurrection
will let us stand firm.
It will give us the motivation and devotion
to give ourselves fully to the work
of witnessing to the resurrection.
Clarence Jordan states,
“The crowning evidence that Jesus was alive
was not a vacant grave,
but a spirit-filled fellowship.
Not a rolled-away stone,
but a carried-away church.”
This promise of resurrection
is not only a distant promise for eternity alone.
Yes, in Christ’s resurrection we have the assurance
that we will rise with him at the trumpet sound.
The promise of our resurrection unto eternal life
fills us with an unshakable hope and motivation
to be a carried-away church.
Carried away with…
spreading the Rumor of the Resurrection!
It inspires us to be Witnesses of his resurrection…
it empowers us to live a “resurrection life”…
to demonstrate that Jesus Christ
has changed our life…
With the disciples who started the rumor…
who saw him and touched him…
who experienced him as the risen one…
May we also tell the story of our encounters
with the risen Lord!
Where have you seen Him alive?
Thanks be to God for the victory over sin and death
through our risen Lord.
Enable us to be a spirit-filled fellowship.
Give us the power to be a carreid-away church.
Grant us a loving spirit,
a gracious, forgiving attitude,
a willingness to return good for evil,
an ability to speak a word of release
to the prisoners of their own habits,
to set free those who are oppressed
by hateful attitudes,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
and to open the eyes of the blind?
Give us a part in the power of your resurrection.
Let our witness be filled with hope
Help us to live each day
in the victory of the Resurrection. Amen
1 Corinthians 15
1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Cor.15:1-8 NIV)
51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.