The Truth of Jesus' Resurrection: Victory over Death and Eternal Hope

Christ the King Sunday - 11/26/2023 | 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

Even Our Last Enemy Is Defeated

In an era where trust seems elusive, the prevailing sentiment resounds: "It feels like everyone's lying these days; I don't know who to trust!" This shared concern is not isolated but resonates widely, casting doubt on matters ranging from climate change and vaccinations to COVID-19, government actions, and even historical events like the moon landing. The pervasive feeling is that falsehoods surround us.

Deception throughout History

History reveals the constant nature of lies. The Holy Bible recounts the first lie that plunged humanity into dire consequences. The devil deceived Adam and Eve, promising them godlike knowledge if they partook of the forbidden fruit. That deception ushered in consequences that echo throughout time.

Yet, in this web of deception, the truth emerges – the inevitability of death due to human error. Herein lies a secret concealed from those who seek to keep us in the dark: Jesus Christ, our Savior, has triumphed over death on our behalf.

Paul Boldly Asserts the Truth of the Resurrection

In a letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul confronts falsehoods surrounding death and resurrection. Some propagated the notion that death concludes all—a disheartening prospect for those anticipating a future resurrection and heavenly life. Paul vehemently asserts the truth of the resurrection, arguing that if there is none, then even the resurrection of Jesus, testified by Paul and other eyewitnesses in the Gospels, would be a fabrication.

To deny Jesus' resurrection is to dismantle the foundation of hope for Christians. It would signify the futility of Paul's testimony, rendering Christianity devoid of its redemptive promise. However, Paul boldly proclaims that Jesus did rise from the dead, securing our future resurrection: "But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep."

Witnesses to the Truth of Christ's Resurrection

In a world where facts are challenged, Paul's assertion aligns with the essence of truth. Drawing parallels to a courtroom, Paul emphasizes that Jesus' resurrection is not a mere wishful claim but a reality substantiated by trustworthy witnesses. The plethora of credible accounts makes the resurrection of Jesus one of the most substantiated truths.

Paul meticulously lists those who witnessed Jesus after His resurrection, highlighting the comprehensive nature of the evidence. He emphasizes that those who dispute Jesus' resurrection bear the onus of proof, a challenge they fail to meet, lacking evidence or witnesses to counter the resurrection.

Certainty of Resurrection: Dispelling Falsehoods

The certainty of Jesus' resurrection dispels falsehoods surrounding death, our bodies, and Jesus' eternal rule. Paul explains that death entered through a man, but now another man, Jesus, brings resurrection. Jesus, having conquered all powers, will ultimately hand everything to God, with death as the final adversary.

The resurrection of Jesus serves as a paradigm, assuring us that our bodies will rise when He returns. This transformative event occurs as Jesus, the triumphant Warrior King, reclaims His dominion. Our bodies and souls, infused with eternal life, bear witness to the victory won on our behalf.

Theological Perspectives on Death and Burial

Amidst contemporary confusion about death and Jesus' sovereignty, considerations of burial practices reflect divergent perspectives. Instead of awaiting resurrection in a sacred resting place, some scatter ashes or repurpose remains. The question arises: Would God approve of such treatment of our bodies, which He intricately designed and Jesus redeemed with His blood?

Contrary to viewing death as a companion, a misconception arises. The Bible and historic Christianity posit that Jesus, through suffering and resurrection, defeated death. The paradox of Christ enduring immense pain to overcome death challenges the notion of embracing it. Concepts like Euthanasia, framing death as a 'good' end, potentially divert individuals from the path of true and eternal life offered by Christ.

Conquering Death: A Call to Arms

According to St. Paul, death's genesis lies in human actions, not in God's plan. God crafted us for eternal communion, not for the shackles of death—a punishment for sin that severs our connection with God, a curse inducing natural grief over its consequences.

Rather than succumbing to death, a call to arms resounds. Acknowledging our inadequacy to conquer it alone, Jesus, the Son of God, entered our realm. Human in form, He assumed our place, waged war against death, and emerged victorious. Good Friday marked the triumph over death for all sinners, with Easter morning heralding this victory to the world.

Glorious Hope: Resurrection of Believers

For those rooted in faith, this news is nothing short of extraordinary. Jesus, as the first fruits, ensures the resurrection of all who belong to Him upon His return. Contrary to misconceptions, Christ's return doesn't signify an end but the culmination of a present order dominated by sin, death, and worldly forces. The triumphant return of Christ, a victorious Warrior-King, signifies the end of the war for believers. The enemies, wielding the power of death, will be vanquished forever.

Final Victory: Resurrection, Ascension, and Reign

According to the Book of Revelations, the enemies of humanity will meet their end in the fires of hell. Their demise marks their end, not ours. Those who have passed away will witness the resurrection of their bodies to meet the Warrior King. Christ, accompanied by His angelic army, will reunite our souls with our raised bodies. Living believers will see their bodies transformed into a glorious state, ascending to join Christ and His people in the triumphant gathering of heaven.

Paul introduces another crucial event at Christ's coming—the moment when the victorious Jesus ascends to heaven. Scripture tells us He assumes a position of authority, seated at the right hand of all power. God and Man, embodied in Jesus, reign upon the throne, a reign marked by salvation through the Word and Sacraments, forgiveness, and preservation in true faith.

However, as the Victorious King returns to His Parousia, He relinquishes the rule to the Father, marking the culmination of the victory displayed at the cross and resurrection. Death, obliterated publicly, is cast into everlasting fire, never to afflict humanity again. Every evil is defeated, concluding the War between man and God. The Warrior King rests, ushering in a reign of peace in heaven and on Earth, fully restoring harmony. "Then the Son Himself will also be subjected to Him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all" (v.28).

In gratitude, let us give thanks to Christ our King! Glory be to God! Amen!

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