"If Christ Had Not Been Raised from Death"
"If Christ had not been raised from death our faith would be in vain, Our preaching but a waste of breath, our sin and guilt remain. But now the Lord is ris'n indeed; He rules in earth and heav'n: His Gospel meets a world of need—in Christ we are forgiv'n."
It would be unthinkable, a "what-if" kind of question that we never want to consider: What if Jesus had not risen from the dead? Our hymn echoes the words of the apostle Paul, who considers that exact thought, "If Christ has not been raised ..." (1 Corinthians 15:14a).
If Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead, then what would follow that terrible outcome? The apostle lists the frightening—and very personal—possibilities. If Jesus is still dead and buried, all apostolic teaching is useless. The apostles would be lying about God, because they said God raised Jesus from the dead. If Jesus was not raised, then the dead will not be raised either. Without a living Savior, our faith would be futile, pointless. We would still be lost in sin, with no forgiveness. Those who die in faith would perish eternally; there would be no heavenly reunion with our brothers and sisters in Christ. A dead Savior might provide some hope for this earthly life, but nothing beyond that (see 1 Corinthians 15:12-19).
It is difficult to even imagine such things, but we know that none of it is true: "In fact, Christ has been raised from the dead" (1 Corinthians 15:20a). On the first Easter morning Jesus' tomb was found open and empty. Jesus has risen from the dead! Everything on the apostle's frightening and deadly list is reversed, a list that only served to show us the immeasurable gifts that are ours because our Lord lives!
As our hymn declares, the Lord is risen indeed, and "His Gospel meets a world of need." In the risen Savior our greatest needs are met—the need for forgiveness and the need to overcome death. The proclamation of the crucified and risen Christ is never in vain or useless because the Holy Spirit is at work in the Gospel Word, calling people to faith. Jesus took onto Himself the penalty of death that we deserved for our sins and then He overcame death. By God's grace through faith in Jesus, our sins are forgiven. When we fall asleep in Christ, we will be at home with the Lord. When Jesus returns on the Last Day, we will be raised bodily, physically from death just as He was raised, and we will live in His presence forever. We have hope for this earthly life, but it is hope that reaches into eternity. It is hope that lives even in the face of death because Jesus lives!
WE PRAY: Risen Lord, in You I have forgiveness and the hope of eternal life. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "If Christ Had Not Been Raised from Death," which is number 486 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Is forgiveness of our sins before God the Father possible without Jesus?
2. Why was it necessary for Jesus to not only die for our sins but to also rise from the dead?
3. Do you find it hard to talk about Jesus' resurrection with others? What makes it so difficult?
Today's Bible Readings: Judges 7-8 Luke 13:23-35
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