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When we meet in person, we take time to share our joys and concerns. Consider the last week, and any prayer requests you may have. If you have any prayer requests to share, you can add them as a comment to this post. When you are ready, use the prayer below (source) to get started.
Dear Father, God of the living,
Thank you that Christ's revelation of himself within my soul as Lord of my life and as the living Spirit of truth and holiness testifies that he is not dead but alive forevermore.
Thank you that he lives in my heart.
By your grace, and by my faith in what you did, I am what I am. The resurrection is preached and I believe it. Thank you, Father! Thank you that I don't have to believe that death ends it all either for Jesus or for me!
In the name of Jesus I come, thanking you for your resurrection power and asking that I may live so as to always have hope of sharing in it. Amen.
This week's lesson is on 1 Corinthians 15:20-28.
The book of 1 Corinthians is a letter written by Paul to the church in the city of Corinth. The church there had major problems, and the letter was meant to help the people understand.
This text comes from the next to last section of the book, where Paul discusses the resurrection. Our book says that God will raise the dead so that they are alive as a unity of body and spirit. They will be in fellowship with those who are still alive at Christ's second coming. This will be the ultimate victory of God.
Some members of the church in Corinth did not believe the idea that God would raise the dead. This may have been due to pagan Greek philosophy, which viewed the body as a prison from which one's spirit desired to escape. Paul argued that God does raise the dead because God raised Christ from the dead. He recounted the many people who saw Jesus after his resurrection, alive in his body that had been dead and entombed. He considered himself the last of these witnesses.
For ancient Israel, the day of firstfruits, or the Festival of Weeks (for today's Jewish people, Shavuot), involved a sacrifice of the produce of the land. This was to express that all that was harvested came from God and was dedicated to God. With this offering, the faithful pledged to God not just this one offering but the entirety of their harvest.
Paul says that Christ is the firstfruits, which God has provided. What was begun with Christ's resurrection will be completed with the resurrection of God's people. Christ's resurrection tells us that God is not finished. We have much to look forward to.
Paul puts Christ's resurrection within the context of the entire biblical story. God intended to sustain people's lives as they depended on him. But people rebelled, and separated humans from God's sustaining power. Humanity brought death upon itself, both the loss of physical life and the ruin of God's goodness in our lives. Resurrection reverses all of this.
Plan for Victory
Paul offers a sequence of events for God's plan, though not a timeline. First, Christ was raised from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. Next, those who belong to him. This could refer to the dead in Christ who are raised when he comes, those still alive when Christ returns, or both.
Then, the present age, when sin and evil seem to prevail, will end. Christ's return is not something for the faithful to fear. It means resurrection life. It means the defeat of evil in all its manifestations. It means the end of suffering. It means joy and peace.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. God pronounced death as the punishment for sin. The victory of God means the end of death. God destroys death by raising his people from the dead, uniting their spirits with resurrected bodies, and bringing them into eternal, unbroken fellowship with God and with one another.
All of Christ's enemies will be trodden under foot. Everything is subject to the Christ with one exception: God the Father, the one who brings the enemies under the king's authority. When the plan has been completed, the Son will willingly subject himself to the Father. God becomes all in all.
A Christian's mind often goes to the promise of God that death is followed by life with God in heaven. That promise is real, true, important, and a real comfort as we consider our mortality.
But today's passage reminds us that there is even more to look forward to. Biblical scholar and professor N.T. Wright says life after death is followed by "life after life after death." Raised from the dead, God's people are made whole. The life to come will bring us together with all of God's people from across the ages. We can only imagine what God has in store for us.
Great God, your ways are far above our ways. Your promises to us are more than we can imagine. May we live in the light of your promised kingdom. We look forward to seeing the promise of resurrection fulfilled. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Questions for Discussion
This week's benediction is from the King James Version.
Next week, we start the fall quarter.
We are a small, rural Presbyterian church in southwestern Pennsylvania.