Sermon – April 1, 2018
He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! – 1 Corinthians 15:20 (mp3)
The idea of “firstfruits” is lost on many. An agricultural reference, it refers to the offering usually given during the first part of the harvest – but it means much more than that. The firstfruits were not just fruits, but the best of the produce of the land, given to God as an indication that all of it belonged to him, to secure his blessing on the rest of the harvest. When Paul calls Christ the “firstfruits” he has all of this in mind, and likely more. What, then, does this term add to our understanding of Jesus’ resurrection?
1. In his resurrection, Christ is preeminent
Christ is the firstfruits because he is the best of the bunch; he is perfect without spot or blemish. Our resurrection is “like” his, but it is not his. Jesus was, and is, the best of humanity. He is more glorious, more awesome, than anyone who has ever been or ever will be. He is the firstfruits to God because he is simply greater than the rest.
2. In his resurrection, Christ is different
The very nature of firstfruits implies the first of the harvest, and something different than what has come before. There were other resurrections in Scripture, but each one who was raised was then again to submit to death. Christ is different, however. His resurrection is the first of a new kind of resurrection, not raised to die again, but to a new life. Many honestly think that an infinite life would be boring, and they would be right, if our lives were beset with the same limitations in the flesh as we have now. But that will not be the case: our new bodies will be unlike these, as different as yours is from a cow’s! The present body, infected with sin and mortality, longs for an end; your new body will have a capacity for time, energy, joy, peace, contentment that you cannot understand now. It is as new as the creation of the first man was.
3. In his resurrection, Christ is our hope
The resurrection of Christ is our hope; we have nothing else. It is our hope that the rest of our loved ones will be raised; he is our hope that we will live past death; he is our hope that the effect of sin will be destroyed; he is our hope that our suffering will be transformed. Without the resurrection, we are dead and lost, wandering through the world with pain, anger, fear, and distress. But, fear not, for he has risen!
We are all “from the dust” like the produce of the land, but from that dust we shall be raised like our Lord. This is the hope of the resurrection, the hope of eternal life: that Christ died for our sins and was raised for our justification and our hope. In him alone is the escape from the mortality of our earthly bodies, from their limitations and pains, from the sentence of death that lingers over them continually. The blessing of the gospel is the very life of God in you. This is the best of news for a dying people!