Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised.
1 Corinthians 15:12–13
As Paul continues to answer the Corinthians’ questions about the resurrection, he moves from the abstract to the concrete, from theoretical to the intensely practical. So far in 1 Corinthians 15, he has proved the resurrection by the testimony of Scripture and by eyewitness testimony. Now he will talk about the consequences of no resurrection.
Paul was writing to a church that had been invaded by false teachers. The Sadducees were a sect of Jews who taught there was no life after death. They didn’t believe in the resurrection because they didn’t believe in an afterlife. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised.” Get the logic there? If there’s no such thing as life after death, then Jesus was not raised from the dead.
There were also false teachers known as the Gnostics. The Gnostics said that only what is spiritual is good. Anything that is material, or fleshly, is evil. So the Gnostics said of the resurrection: Even if it is true, why would we want it to be true? Why would we want to inherit bodies for all eternity? Remember, to Gnostics, the physical body is sinful. So the Gnostics believed in a resurrection, but they thought it was a spiritual resurrection. There are some liberal theologians today who still believe that. They say, “We believe that Jesus was spiritually raised from the dead. And one day we, too, will be spiritually raised from the dead.” That comes from Gnosticism. The Gnostics believed that Jesus couldn’t be flesh and blood because the flesh is sinful.
Now, our bodies are not sinful in and of themselves. Our bodies are only sinful because we’ve been infected with the sin virus. But Jesus Christ was flesh and blood. He ate, He drank, and He was born of a woman (Galatians 4:4). In 1 John 1:1, John said, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life.” John is saying, We’ve touched Him, the Word of Life, Jesus. We know He is real; He is flesh and blood.
Why does it make a difference whether Jesus Christ was flesh and blood? Because God indwelling flesh means, among other things, that God understands us. He understands you not just intellectually, but He also understands you experientially. There is no heartache, there is no trial you face that God doesn’t understand and sympathize with it. Hebrews 4:15–16 says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” When you’re going through a trial in your life, you can ask God for His mercy and His grace, knowing that He understands exactly what you’re going through because He experienced it in the person of Jesus Christ.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “If Christ Has Not Been Raised,” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.