Jesus Physically Rose Again & Ascension | Devotion #5: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor
“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 NKJV
What if Jesus had never risen from the dead? What I mean is, what if He had come, taught us all that He taught us, showed us all He showed us, even died on the cross, was buried in the tomb, but that was it? What if that was where the story ended? What I am asking is, what if Jesus had not risen from the dead? Would it change anything? Could we just go on as we always have? Does anything change?
We do not need to guess about this. First Corinthians chapter 15, tells us exactly what it would mean if Jesus did not rise from the dead. It would have been the end of Christianity. It is not an exaggeration to say that Christianity would have been over before it even began! Jesus would have faded into the background of history as any other good man or teacher, and we would not be having this conversation. In short, it would mean that we are not saved, that our sins are not forgiven, and that we have no hope at all!
The denial of the resurrection is nothing new. Following the resurrection, many tried to explain it away or dismiss it altogether. Some suggested that Jesus never actually even died, that He revived (and somehow in His weakened state rolled back a 2-ton stone by Himself and all of His disciples died knowing He was lying). Some suggested that He died, but never actually rose from the dead at all, that the disciples came in the night and stole His body (overpowering the Roman guards and again, each of them dying knowing that the whole thing was a farce). One of the heresies (false doctrine) that was being spread by false teachers in the days of the early church was the idea that Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead physically. These heretics taught that when Christ rose from the dead, He only did so “spiritually.” Most of them also said that He only came “spiritually” teaching that He left no footprints when He walked. The apostle’s (especially Paul) continually fought against these false teachers and their false doctrine.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, Paul dealt with the bodily resurrection of Christ. He said that Jesus Christ not only died and was buried (you can not bury a spirit!) but He also rose from the dead the third day. He said this was all according to the promise of the Scriptures. He does not stop there. What he says next is so important. He says Jesus was seen alive by Peter (Cephas), then by the 12 disciples, and then by over 500 others at one time. Now here is the kicker, Paul says, “They are all still alive! Ask them what they saw! They will tell you.” He goes on and says, “He was seen by His brother James, then by all of the apostles and then, I saw Him myself.”
Now, it is certainly possible to get a few people to go in together on a lie. But how many are willing to die for what they know is a lie? Christians were being persecuted and killed for saying that Christ was alive. How many would be willing to die knowing it was all a lie? Even if over 500 people were in on the lie, how many of them would have maintained that lie while being persecuted, tortured, and killed for that lie? The answer is very few if any. If it were a lie, it would have eventually been exposed as such and Christianity, and indeed Christ, would have faded into the background of history amid scandal as so many others have.
But we do not have that. We have countless eyewitness Christians with their dying breath proclaiming that He is risen! They are convinced they saw Him alive. They had touched Him. They watched Him as He both rose from the dead and ascended 40 days later into Heaven before their eyes.