"Death has been swallowed up in victory." Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 1 Cor.15:54-55
–“For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits (of the new creation) of those who have fallen asleep." (1 Cor. 15:16-20) Resurrection means a bodily resurrection to an immortal state not resuscitation like Lazarus and others who have been raised from the dead but die again. Like Jesus, we will not taste death again after being resurrected. Being in Christ removes the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15). It is only a –“shadow” (Psalm 23) compared to falling asleep (1 Thess 4:14) and waking up in the presence of the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8)
Many liberal theologians and other religions deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ and thus the bodily resurrection of believers. (Even unbelievers will have a resurrected body and suffer physical as well as spiritual torment in Hell -Daniel 12:2) Believers who are presently in heaven (the intermediate state) are –“absent from the body but present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8) but in the eternal state all believers will have a glorified body like the Lord Jesus. –“So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.” (See 1 Cor. 15: 42-49) –“Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” ( Rom. 8:23)
–“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God (deity) by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1: 1-4) –“The resurrection 1) demonstrated that what Jesus predicted about Himself was true. (Mark 8:31); 2) proved that Jesus is the Son of God. ( Rom. 1:2-4) and was sent by God and –“vindicated by the Spirit.” (1 Tim 3:16); 3) testifies to the success of His mission of salvation. (Rom 4:25); 4) entitled Jesus to a position of glory. (1 Peter 1:11); 5); proclaimed that Jesus is –“Lord” (or God) (Acts 2:36)” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary by Walvord and Zuck)
Out of all the gospel writers John gives the most detailed account of what happened after Jesus’ death and burial. These historical details are there to build our faith on the solid ground of evidence by eye-witnesses on the scene: (Also see John’s letter, 1 John 1:1-4) 1) the intimate encounter of Mary of Magdala and Jesus which led her to faith; this encounter also shows Jesus explaining the new relationship Mary and all believers will have with Him — i.e; a spiritual versus physical relationship; (vv. 10-17) 2) John’s response of faith when he saw the evidence — the empty tomb, the undisturbed grave clothes and burial cloth (facial cloth) — –“He saw and believed” (v.8) though he did not still understand all this meant; 3) Jesus’ appearance to the 11 (except Thomas) on the same day (Sunday) and their belief. (v.20); 4) Jesus’ commissioning of the disciples (v. 21) and breathing on them the promised gift of the Holy Spirit to empower them to carry it out. (v. 23); 5) Jesus stoops to conquer as He encouraged doubting Thomas to see, touch and believe, and Thomas’ powerful statement of belief — My Lord and My God affirming the deity of Christ.
Ken Boa in his book I’m Glad You Asked gives eight –“facts” about the resurrection from the four gospels to show that our faith is built on eye-witness accounts of historical evidence. 1) Jesus died and was pronounced dead. (Mark 15:44-45); 2) Jesus was placed in a tomb witnessed by soldiers who then put a seal on to identify it. (Matt. 27:66); 3) the disciples were fearful and discouraged with no hope that Jesus would rise from the dead. (John 20:19) which is completely reversed after they know He is risen. 4) They became fearless and bold witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. 5) Mary and her friends, Peter and John all saw the empty tomb and no body was ever produced to prove they were lying. 6) The Roman seal was broken and the large stone was rolled away (not so Jesus could get out -He could walk through walls) but so witnesses could get in and see He had risen. (Matt. 28:2); 7) The grave clothes of Jesus were found empty yet completely undisturbed. (John 20:3-8); 8) And Jesus appeared on ten different occasions over 40 days to Mary and her friends, the disciples, to Peter alone, to His half-brother James and to more than 500 at one time. (John 20: 11-18; Matt. 28:8-10; 1 Cor.15:5; Luke 24:13-32; John 20:19-25; John 20:26-28; John 21:1-14; Matt. 28:16-20; 1 Cor. 15:7; Acts 1:3-12)
V. 23 – Like the disciples we have the privilege to say to all who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior, –“your sins are forgiven.” But for those who reject Jesus we must say, –“you are still in your sin as you face the judgment of God.” (John 3:18, 36)
Paul said, –“For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:20) The more we live for Christ the more we will long to be with Him face to face and thus pray earnestly with John, –“Even so, come Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20)
–“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Cor. 15:19) What does Paul mean by this? How much hope do you put in Christ for this life versus eternity? See what Paul says later in this chapter in verse 32.
–“ Jesus did many other miraculous signs (the resurrection being the greatest) in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” The disciples were willing to die proclaiming this message: –“He is risen” and all but John died a martyr’s death. Does hearing about the certainty of the resurrection of Jesus and your own promised resurrection inspire your faith and obedience? Discuss your answers.
–“ Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” (John 20:1) The other gospels show that some of the other women came too but later and not while it was still dark. Mary was the first to see the risen Lord. (vv. 16-18) –“God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirst for thee, my flesh longs for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.” (Psalm 63:1) God is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him. (Heb 11:6) How thirsty are you for the Lord?