1 Corinthians 15:17-20 - And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
We live in a world where cynics and skeptics maintain that the Bible is a myth, to be believed only by children who are weak-minded and wide-eyed. We live in a time when many stumble over the barriers built by their intellect and are convinced that Christ is a con, the crucifixion a cruel, cosmic hoax -- and the final judgment a joke.
It is a sad thing that these doubters never really look at the many proofs of the resurrection. They never consider the terrible deaths of many of the apostles and close followers of Jesus. My friends, do you think these disciples would have been martyred, holding fast to the preaching of a prank? Do you think these cowering, cringing cowards of Good Friday could have been turned into lions for the Lord if they had not believed in a risen Redeemer? They knew and armed with knowledge of a living Lord they went into all the world and proclaimed, "Christ is risen!"
Under the city of Rome, there are over 600 miles of catacombs.
Six hundred miles of graves cut into the rock. In these alcoves, a great many generations of the dead have been laid to rest. Believer lies next to unbeliever. Take a look into the Christian graves. Their skeletons tell terrible tales: heads severed from bodies, ribs and shoulder blades broken, bones calcified from fire. Despite the awful sufferings they endured, the inscriptions on those Christian tombs shout of victory and triumph.
One resting spot says, "Here lies Marcia, put to rest in peace." Another says, "Lawrence, borne away by angels." Yet another reads, "Being called away, he went in peace."
Now I would like you to contrast those graves with the tombs of those which hold remains of the unbelievers. Without faith in the risen Lord, they painfully warn: "Live for the present hour, since you can be sure of nothing else." Another bitterly states, "I lift my hands against the gods who killed me at the age of twenty." And yet another resting spot shows no hope when it says, "Traveler, do not curse me as you pass. I am in darkness and cannot answer."
That's a dramatic difference!
What can give hope where once there had been horror, joy where once there had been judgment, peace where once there had been poison?
Simply this: Christ is risen!
That is the message which was shared in countless pulpits last Sunday. It is the joyful proclamation which has been shared for 20 centuries. Christ is risen!
That is the truth the Spirit uses to bring you from darkness into light, from horror to hope, from hell to heaven. Christ is risen in this world, and now He wants to rise in the hearts of every man, woman, and child in this world. Christ is risen! That is the message of Lutheran Hour Ministries, and the entire church proudly proclaims as we bring Christ to the Nations and the Nations to the Church.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks for those people who were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the words of Jesus' resurrection victory. I also give thanks for those many martyrs and witnesses who proclaimed the risen Redeemer with their lives. I join with all of them and give thanks in the Savior's Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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