Had Old Man Death Had the Final Say

1 Corinthians 15:12-20
Easter Sunday
April 4, 2021

The Great Escape Artist

There once lived fella from Budapest, Hungary whose family knew him as Erich. His father wanted him to become a Jewish Rabbi just like he was. Erich, however, wanted to become a successful escape artist.

He did just that. He had the flexibility of an eel. He laughed at handcuffs. He scoffed at shackles. People put him in coffins. He would escape. They put him in a barrel full of beer. He escaped; though he staggered a little more than normal. They chained him to a bed in a maximum-security prison and locked all the doors. He escaped within two hours. They even sowed him into the belly of a whale. Erich Weiss escaped once again.

But in October of 1926, old man death came calling for this man you know as Harry Houdini. He has yet to escape. Just before his death, Harry told his wife “if there is any way out, I’ll find it and I will contact you on our anniversary. For 10 years, she kept a flame burning over his portrait. And for 10 years, she turned out the light. Death had a hold of Harry Houdini and he couldn’t escape.

Had Death Conquered Jesus

Text

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Had Old Man Death Had the Final Say in Jesus' Life:

(1) Our Message Has No Power (14)

The Past is a Guide-Post, Not a Hitching Post, Normally

The past is guide to help us in the future by avoiding things we did in the past if they move us in a direction we don’t want to go. It becomes a hitching post when our past prevents us from moving forward.

One Event from the Past, Though, Has to Be A Hitching Pitching: The Resurrection

(1) The Greek Word for Preaching is “Kerygma.”

(2) Faith had to come by hearing in the Early Church because the Bible was in the process of being written.

(3) The earliest confession written down, dated less than 2 decades after Jesus death is quoted directly in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4;

(4) Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and on the third day he rose from the grave;

(5) The only hope the church had of expanding was based on that kerygma in the earliest years;

(6) It was enough. The early church started in Asia; but expanded to North Africa and Europe less soon after.

Paul Uses the Rabbinical Method of Using a Negation to Teach the Opposite

If Christ be not raised, (then) our kerygma is useless (lacking in power to change people’s lives)

Don’t make the mistake of following Jesus because he teaches good morals:

If Christ be not raised from the dead, then why in the world – something he claimed he would do – then why in the world should we listen to what he has to say? But if he did, you better listen to what he says about good morals because the Resurrection changes everything.

(2) Our Mission Has No Integrity (15).

Second Negation to Teach the Opposite Reality

(1)If Christ isn’t raised, we are found to be false witnesses;

(2) Paul should know what should happen to false witnesses because he thought Stephen was one and had him stoned to death;

(3) Paul argues the same thing should happen to him.

Put It Another Way:

(1) Paul received money for his preaching and teaching and thanked the churches for it numerous times in the NT;

(2) He told church members to throw some teachers and church members out if they disagreed with him;

(3) He rebuked people for living a certain way;

(4) If his witness is intentionally false, does that sound like a decent human being?

No Integrity Means:

(1) If Christ be not raised, we are messing with people’s lives to make us feel better about ourselves;

(2) And the whole thing is a sham;

(3) If Christ be not raised, why even bother to go to church?

But Christ Has Been Raised

(1) We are, therefore, not false witnesses.

(2) We are true ones.

(3) And that’s why we celebrate together.

Our Misdeeds Have No Remedy (17)

Blood On the Doorpost

Has it ever occurred to you, that the Lord never bothered to look inside the houses of anyone on the night of the Passover?. He didn’t look at who exceeded expectations or who fell short. He only looked for blood on the door post. For without blood, no expiation of sin.

Third Negation to Teach the Opposite Reality

(1) Expiation: to atone or to make amends because of guilt;

(2) You couldn’t do this on your own in the OT: If you tried your guilt would remain;

(3) There had to be a High Priest on the Day of Atonement to make a suitable blood sacrifice;

(4) If Christ be not raised, his sacrifice wasn’t suitable to God the Father;

(5) And therefore my guilt remains.

God Isn’t Out for Your Blood Nor Will He Ever Be

The only person he was out to get from the very start was his own son. And that was specifically because he wanted you to have a remedy

4. Our Morale Has No Purpose (19)

Fourth Negation to Teach the Opposite Reality

(1) If Christ be not raised, we are to be pitied;

(2) Feeling sorry for others;

(3) In this case, for the misfortune they have brought on themselves

Implication:

If Christ be not raised from the dead, all of the troubles and trials and tribulations that we deal with specifically because we are Christians are products of our own making.

But He Has Risen

And that means we have hope beyond the grave. Old man death does not have the final say. Jesus does. And he rose from the dead to prove it.

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