He Keeps On Showing Up!
1 Corinthians 15:3-8
On August 16, 1977 iconic American rock star and entertainer Elvis Presley died. But for some reason his fans keep insisting he is still alive. Some of them believe Elvis faked his death to enter the witness protection program. Others believe Elvis faked his death to get away from the limelight. Still others believe Elvis’ casket contained a cooling unit and the body was a wax figure. That’s why folk keep offering up “Elvis sightings”. There have been so many “Elvis sightings” that an official Elvis Sighting Society has been established in Ottawa, Ontario. He just keeps on showing up.
But, there is no reasonable doubt that the events played out at Graceland as we have been told. There is no reasonable doubt that the many who witnessed these events and saw Elvis's dead body are all telling the truth. There is no reasonable doubt that all the doctors and medical professionals involved have told us the truth. There is no reasonable doubt that Elvis's body was at Baptist Memorial Hospital, Memphis Funeral Home, and then Graceland and was not switched with a wax dummy. In other words, there is no reasonable doubt Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977; his body is in a grave in Memphis Tennessee; and it remains there to this day.
But although Elvis’ body remains in the grave, I came to talk about another whose body did not remain in the grave. I came to talk about one whom death claimed but could not hold. I came to talk about the reality of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. How do we know for sure that Jesus arose? What evidence do we have that He has risen as He said? How can we be certain that He lives?
The apostle Paul in his first letter to the Church at Corinth deals with these same questions. He writes this letter for three reasons. (1) He writes to draw the church back together in a spirit of unity as one body in Christ. The church at Corinth was fractured and fragmented; feuding and fighting; favoring certain gifts and forming cliques. So, Paul writes to bring them back together. (2) He writes to deal with moral laxity in the church. (3) And lastly, Paul writes to answer certain questions the church had requested Paul to answer: questions concerning marriage, Christian liberty and rights, public worship, spiritual gifts, and the resurrection from the dead. In the 15th chapter of his first letter to the Church at Corinth, we see how Paul answers the church’s questions about the resurrection of the dead. We see how the apostle Paul deals with reality of the bodily resurrection of our Lord.
First of all Paul, wants his hearers to know that Scripture confirms the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul reminds his hearers that he is only a faithful steward of the mysteries of God. Paul reminds his hearers that the gospel is not his own invention. The gospel is not the product of his imagination. Instead, the gospel is the good news that has been entrusted to him. The gospel he preaches is not his own but has been received through divine revelation. Paul says in Galatians 1:12 I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through a direct revelation given by Jesus Christ. Paul says, “I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture, and that he was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
A faithful steward of God’s Word will deliver what he has received. My first real job was delivering the Burlington Times News when I was about fourteen years old. Clyde Alston, who lived just up the street from me, handed the job down to me. Clyde trained me well. He taught me how to organize my route. He taught me how roll up newspapers tightly so I could throw them farther. He even allowed me to accompany him as he delivered the papers, so that I could learn the route. Everyday around the same time in the afternoon, a car would drive up to my house at 506 South 8th Street and deliver a bundle of fresh newspapers. It was not my job to alter the news. It was not my job to make the news. My job was simply to deliver whatever I received. And now here I am 30 years later, and the most important lesson I’ve learned about preaching is that it’s my job simply to deliver what I have received. It’s my job to preach the Word – to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
A faithful steward of God’s Word will prioritize the gospel. Paul places the highest priority on the gospel. The gospel is first and foremost in the dutiful pulpit. The gospel is the crux of Christianity. Why? Because the gospel still matters! Nearly 2000 years after Paul wrote this letter, the gospel still matters.
The Cross still matters. The fact that Christ died for our sins still matters. The Cross still matters because every one of us is a sinner. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The Cross still matters because God is still holy. And since He is holy and cannot lower his standards, if I want to spend eternity with Him something has to be done about my sin problem. The Cross still matters because try as I might, I cannot do anything about my sin problem apart from the blood of Jesus. What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! The Cross still matters because I cannot live a moral enough life nor can I keep God’s perfect law. The Cross still matters because it is the only solution to humanity’s sin problem. The Cross still matters because there are still sinners who need to be saved. Aren’t you glad God sent his Son to die for our sins? Aren’t you glad, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life?
The Resurrection still matters. Paul said, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins.” The Resurrection still matters because it is the authentication that Jesus is who he claimed to be. The Resurrection still matters because it is the verification that Jesus is the Son of God. The Resurrection still matters because it underscores the fact that Jesus has triumphed over death, hell, and the grave. The resurrection still matters because it proves that this age is coming to a close and the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
Paul says that Christ died for our sins; was buried; and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. The law pointed to Jesus as the atoning sacrifice, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities and that the Lord would lay on Him the iniquity of us all. But David predicted that he would rise from the grave, for he said in Psalm 16:10 “"For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption". In accordance to Scripture, Jesus laid his life down. In accordance to Scripture, He was crucified on a hill called Golgotha. In accordance to Scripture, his body was laid in a borrowed tomb. In accordance to Scripture, he got up on the third day morning. Scripture confirms the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But not only does Scripture confirm our Lord’s bodily resurrection, Eyewitnesses confirm the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
He was seen by Mary Magdalene and those others who came early on that first Easter Sunday to anoint his body with spices. An angel descended; rolled back the stone; and sat on it. He told them, I know you came looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. He is risen, as He said. Jesus met them, as they ran back to tell the disciples the good news. But Mary Magdalene and the others were not the only ones to see him, because he keeps on showing up.
He showed up to Peter. Peter had denied him three times. And the Lord could have written him off, because of his past failures, but he showed up anyhow.
He showed up to the twelve. They had abandoned Him. They had deserted Him in his hour of trial. But he showed up anyhow. He didn’t show up to them just once, he keeps on showing up. They were in a room, all the doors were shut. But Jesus showed up. Thomas wasn’t there, so he told them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Eight days later. They were in the same room, all the doors were shut and Thomas was with them. Then Jesus showed up again. He told Thomas put your finger here and feel the nail prints. Put your hand here into my side. Do not be unbelieving but believe. He keeps on showing up.
He showed up to more than 500 believers at one time. Jesus knows there will always be doubters. Jesus knows there will always be scoffers. So, he keeps on showing up. I don’t know where he showed up. Perhaps it was in Galilee, because he told the women. "Be not afraid; go tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me" (Matthew 28:10). In the mouths of two or three witnesses shall every Word be established, but Jesus appears to more than 500 at one time. But He’s not done yet. He keeps on showing up.
He shows up to his half brother James and then to all the other apostles. James didn’t believe His claims. But after Jesus appeared to Him, He went on to be a pillar in the church and call Jesus "the Lord of glory." He keeps on showing up.
In spite of all that has been done to end his ministry.
In spite of all that has been done to silence his disciples.
In spite of all that has been done to stop his church.
In spite of all that has been done to contain the gospel.
He keeps on showing up.
If you need a doctor, he’ll show up.
If you need a lawyer, he’ll show up.
If you lose a loved one, he’ll show up.
If you will praise him, he’ll show up.
He’ll shout with your lips.
He’ll clap with your hands.
He will dance with your feet.
He inhabits the praises of His people.
Aren’t you glad, He keeps on showing up?
Because He lives we can rest assured that our sins have been atoned for.
Because He lives we can rest assured that God will surely bring all He has said to pass.
The Scriptures and Eyewitness confirm the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.
You can be certain that He lives.