Sunday February 17

Scriptures: Jeremiah 17:5-10

Thus says the Lord:
Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals
    and make mere flesh their strength,
    whose hearts turn away from the Lord.
They shall be like a shrub in the desert,
    and shall not see when relief comes.
They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salt land.

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
    sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
    and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
    and it does not cease to bear fruit.

The heart is devious above all else;
    it is perverse—
    who can understand it?
10 I the Lord test the mind
    and search the heart,
to give to all according to their ways,
    according to the fruit of their doings.

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.

 “Our Resurrection”

Paul’s formal training in the art of rhetoric really shines in this passage.  His ability to use well constructed words and phrases to persuade others served him well here and in many other cases during his career as an Apostle.  Many scholars believe he was not as charismatic or visually appealing as his Greek counterpart Apollos, but what he lacked in those areas he made up for with mastery of verbal persuasion.  We see this when he “almost” convinces Agrippa to convert to Christianity and we see a brilliant example of his skill in the argument he made here in this passage.

And what a brilliant argument it was and still is.  Using his earlier argument for the Resurrection of Jesus as a platform, Paul is now lifting up our resurrection in the future.  His argument arose from an issue involving the denial of Jesus’ Resurrection by some in the Corinthian church and beyond.  His argument stems from the fact that if it were not Jesus’ Resurrection that we would have no hope of our resurrection; which in turn negates the story and power of the Gospel.  In other words, if you do not believe in Resurrection of Jesus, then you cannot believe in ours and all hope is lost. 

Evidently this is what was happening with some in Corinth.  They were denying the Resurrected Jesus, which means they were denying the resurrection of all.  Of course, we know that our resurrection will not have the same effect as Jesus’ or even those raised during His or the Apostles days.  We will not rise from the death bed or the tomb and wander again with those yet to die.  However, we will rise in new bodies in the next life.  This was hard for some to grasp.  Evidently, they were under the impression that those who died in Christ would again walk with them on this earth as did Lazarus and Dorcas.  However, Paul sets the record straight that this was not the true resurrection.  The true resurrection for us will be permanent and everlasting.  Lazarus, along with the many others who were raised before, during, and after the earthly ministry of Jesus, went on to pass again from this life.  We will also pass into the next, but then be resurrected in a new body. 

What a wonderful gift.  We will not only receive everlasting life though an act of resurrection, we will live that life in a new body.  It matters little whether that body is just a better non-flawed version of our current body, or if it is something different.  We cannot be truly sure what is meant by a “glorified body.”  We know Jesus still had the wounds and scars of the Crucifixion when He appeared to the Disciples before the Ascension.  What matters is that this future body will be whole and in the presence of the Creator.  Christ’s Resurrection provided a path for our resurrection.  Our resurrection is our current hope and future reward; grounded in our faith and supplied by the grace of God. 

Pastor Mark

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