Jesus’ Resurrection Is My Resurrection
What is a mystery? A mystery is two things that don’t seem to go together, but yet do. Right before high school we moved to a new town. And in this new town there were kids who drove in from their ranches. And they wore cowboy clothing. And I always thought that was the greatest mystery. They wore cowboy boots, for example. Cowboy boots were initially made for riding on horses and walking on the plains and grasslands. And there my classmates were, getting out of their Ford F-350 ranch-rigs for class. That was a mystery. A few weeks ago I discovered another mystery. Years ago there were these clothing companies that got their name and their start by making high quality clothing for the outdoors. But now these clothing companies have become fashionable. So, on their discussion boards they talk more about whether this new shirt will match their sand-colored pants instead of talking about whether the shirt will last when it has days of backpack straps rubbing against it. A mystery is where you have two details that don’t seem to go together, but they do. This morning God’s word draws us into a massive mystery. At the end of 1 Corinthians 15, we read these words: “51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in 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. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:51–53 NIV11-GKE)
In these words Paul tells us that there will be an amazing exchange. The decaying will be exchanged for the imperishable. The dying will be exchanged for the immortal. What is Paul speaking about? He’s speaking about our bodies. And there’s your mystery. God gave us our bodies. We get used to them. We learn to care for them and take care of them. We get attached to them. And yet, as Christians, what do we at the very same time learn to do? We learn to be willing to say “goodbye” to them. And Paul here gives us the reason why: The decaying gives way to the imperishable. The dying gives way to the immortal.
What good news this is. For when you begin to get a little older you realize that your body begins to decay. You go out for a jog and you can’t catch your breath like those in their 20’s. You get done running and it takes your body days, not hours to recover. You decay. But even more, you are able to die. On more than one occasion I’ve been at the bedside of someone who is dying as they said, “how did the years go by so fast and I got this old?” But the great mystery is that we can say, “goodbye” to the bodies we are so used to because Jesus will exchange our old decaying and dying bodies for new ones. And all of this is true because Jesus’ resurrection is now my resurrection. But God’s word has more to tell us: “54 When 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?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54–57 NIV11-GKE)
In these words Paul gives us encouragements. Since Jesus’ resurrection is my resurrection, what is my reaction to this? Paul invites us to sing. Sing. Rejoice. Jesus resurrection is now your resurrection. But Paul goes into more detail, answering the question, why should I sing? The sting of death is sin. One of the challenges of preaching on Easter Sunday is that Easter preaching is built on top of Lenten Preaching. For this last entire season of Lent we have been preparing for this day by speaking about the real problem in our lives. The real problem in our lives is not too much snow. It’s not the high cost of housing or even renting a house. The real problem is my own sin. The real problem is that when I come into this world I don’t know who God is and I don’t want to know who God is. And I show God what I think of him all throughout my life. I lie. I cheat. I steal, or at least really want to. I hate. I think that I’m better than others. All of these sins I have and I commit, if not with my hands, then with my heart. And those sins demand payment and judgment. Who will right the wrongs I have committed? Our consciences tells us that what we have done is wrong and that we deserve the punishment of death and hell. But then Paul comes along in these words and tells us that death no longer has any sting. Why? Jesus’ resurrection is now my resurrection.
So my dear friends in Christ, on this day of victory, sing! Your voice may be rusty. And your voice may be out of tune. That’s ok. That’s why we have a beautiful organ and trumpet. They help. But sing. And sing with joy. For Christ’s resurrection is now your resurrection. Paul then ends with these words: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, 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.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV11-GKE)
Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection. So sing. But here Paul adds this detail: Don’t just sing, also stand. The fact that Jesus’ resurrection is now my own shapes and structures every day of my life. When Paul says, “where O Death is your victory” that shapes and structures every day of our lives. It addresses all the “what ifs” that crush our hearts and keep us up at night. What if I don’t have any friends? Jesus is your friend and he proves it by rising from the dead. What if I don’t find a spouse? Jesus has risen from the dead, and even if you fly solo throughout this life, know both that Jesus is here with you now, and this life here now is just a blink of an eye to having our brand new bodies in heaven. What if I don’t get the right job? Jesus’ resurrection is now your own. If he has taken care of the greatest problem of your life: death and hell, won’t he also give you work for your hands and shelter for your head? It may not always be fun and fulfilling work. But just think of the work waiting for you in heaven. Why? Because Jesus’ resurrection is now your resurrection. What if—what if I grow sick, or frail, or get old, or die? Then Jesus will take you to be with him and when the time is right he will exchange your decaying and dying body with an upgraded version of your own body.
My dear friends in faith, Jesus’ resurrection is your resurrection. Sing this truth. But don’t just sing this truth here on this day. Also, take your stand on that truth every day. Then, what Pauls says here will be true for you and already is. Then your labor out there in every day life is not in vain. But notice the context in which it is not in vain. Our english versions say, “your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV11-GKE). A better translation would be, that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.1 Your Lord Jesus has risen from the dead. So sing on this day. And take your stand on the fact that Jesus’ resurrection is your resurrection every day. Amen.
1 “58 ⲟ ⲕⲟⲡⲟⲥ ⲩ̈ⲙⲱⲛ ⲟⲩⲕ ⲉⲥⲧⲓⲛ ⲕⲁⲛⲟⲥ ⲉⲛ ⲕ̅ⲱ̅·” (1 Corinthians 15:58 GNT-ALEX)