August 1, 2017
1 Corinthians 15:20 - But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
It's a rare person who doesn't ask "what if?" We play guessing games with the past and project the results into our future.
"What if Adolph Hitler had won World War II?" "What if Kennedy hadn't been assassinated?" "What if I had taken that job?" "What if I had invested in Microsoft when it was $2 a share?" "What if I had left home five seconds later, or earlier, would the car accident have been avoided?" "What if I had married that other gal or guy?" "What if I had gone to another college?"
Most of the time, those what-if questions are innocent enough. But sometimes, "What if?" can lead to some real soul searching and reevaluating.
For example, "What if God had almost revealed Himself in Jesus Christ?" "What if Christ had almost been born and almost lived among us and almost been nailed to the cross?" "What if Jesus would have said, 'Ask and it may be given to you; seek and you probably will find; knock and it will, in all probability, be opened to you'?" "What if the Savior would have said, 'Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will not quite give you rest'?"
How would your life have been changed if Jesus had told His disciples "I am a possible way, a sort of truth, and a very dim light?" Those what-if questions would change our lives. Surprisingly, we are not alone in asking "what if?"
Paul does the same thing. He asks, "What if Christ is not raised from the dead?"
Then, having asked the question, Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, answers it. He says something like -- if Jesus isn't alive, neither are those believers who have died. What if Christ is not raised from the dead? Then every sermon of comfort that has been preached to comfort a mourner has been a lie.
If Christ is not risen, there is no hope, there is no tomorrow, and the day of death is the blackest thing that can happen to a human being.
Yup, that's what happens if Christ is not risen.
But, and this is an all-important but, St. Paul doesn't end there. He continues, "But now is Christ risen from the dead, the firstfruits of those that are sleeping."
Notice, Paul doesn't say, Jesus "probably" or "sort of" or "we think" or "possibly" or "might be." No, Paul says, "Now is Christ risen from the dead." It is a fact, an undeniable fact, a real fact. Let the world laugh and make mockery, the fact remains, the Easter tomb was empty. Jesus is leading the parade of those who have been rescued from the grave's clutches.
The disciples saw a risen Lord. The disciples ate with a risen Lord. The disciples touched a risen Lord. The disciples listened to a risen Lord. Day after day they visited with Him. And because they did, we can be sure our eternity doesn't rest upon an unanswered "what if?"
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks for Your grace, Your Son, and Your facts, which say that, with faith, I have been rescued and redeemed. May I share that good news with others. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries