This Changes Everything
In 1 Corinthians 15 we see that the resurrection is the most important part of the gospel, and the gospel is the most important message from God to us. After his resurrection, Jesus hung out with hundreds of people. Jesus hung out with Cephas, that’s Peter, then with his 12 disciples, and then to a group of 500 people, then to James and more followers, and then to Paul, the guy writing this letter. There were SO many people living in the first century who hung out with Jesus after he was resurrected. And when Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthian church, it was only 20 years after the resurrection, so most of these people were still alive. It’s like Paul’s telling the Corinthians, hey you don’t just have to take my word for it, travel to Jerusalem and meet some of these people and ask them! There are hundreds of witnesses that Jesus is alive!
Bu what’s more interesting is what happened to their lives AFTER they saw Jesus.
Cephas, the first guy, who we know as Peter, just before Jesus was crucified, he was so scared for his life that he denied knowing Jesus, cursed a group of people out to prove that he didn’t know Jesus, and then ran away. But AFTER he hung out with the resurrected Jesus, Peter spent the rest of his life following Jesus, even to the point where he died for Jesus instead of denying him! The resurrection changed everything for him.
The 12 apostles all ran away scared when Jesus was arrested, but AFTER they hung out with him and saw that he had power over death, just like he said he did all along, they all went out and were the most bold, courageous people in the world! The resurrection changed everything for them.
And then James, James was Jesus’ half brother. And James totally thought Jesus was a looney toon man. He didn’t want anything to do with Jesus. But after the resurrection, James worshipped his brother as God; the first time that’s ever happened between brothers. That might prove that Jesus is God more than any other evidence. James would eventually be forced to reject that his brother was God or be killed. James said, “You’ll have to kill me.” So he was thrown off a building, breaking both his legs, and then they said, “You sure?” And James said, “Yeah, there’s no way I can deny what I KNOW is true.” So a crowd stoned him to death. The resurrection changed everything for James.
And then there was Paul, the guy who wrote this letter. Jesus appeared to him and look at how it changed his life in verse 9: “For I am the least of the apostles, not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. Whether, then, it is I or they, so we proclaim and so you have believed.”Before Paul met the resurrected Jesus, Paul hated people who believed in Jesus, so he was part of a group of people that were trying to kill Christians like James. But when he met the living Jesus, it changed everything about his life, to the point where he needed a new name. He used to be called Saul, now he goes by Paul.
Here are some things we see that totally changed in his life:
First, he says: I’m the least of the apostles. The resurrection caused Paul to be humble. In fact, the longer he follows Jesus, he gets more and more humble. In one of his last letters he writes that he’s the chief of all sinners. That’s one thing the resurrection changes in our lives. Because we see what our sin deserves when we see the death of Jesus. We see how broken and desperate we are for someone to heal us.
But then he says by the grace of God I am what I am. The resurrection changes WHO we are, our identity. Because without the resurrection of Jesus, our only hope is to save ourselves. Our identity without Jesus is that we’re insecure, always fighting to get ahead. Without Jesus we’re fearful, about what others can do to us, about how our lives could get messed up, about what’s gonna happen in the future, about meeting God.Without Jesus were guilty. We own our sin and we will have to pay for it.
But because of the grace of God, the gospel, our identity changes. Because of the resurrection, you’re loved, cherished, adopted into God’s family. Because of the resurrection, you’re secure, bold, and hopeful about the future. Because of the resurrection, you’re forgiven, cleansed of your sins. We have a whole new identity now.
And then Paul says that he worked harder than any of them. He worked hard in doing what? At the very end of verse 9 it says he proclaimed to people what he believed. Paul wasn’t just an employee anymore. He didn’t just work for the man. His life goals weren’t just to own a house and retire early. His purpose wasn’t just to have a good reputation in his community. He had a whole new purpose in all of life: to share with others this amazing good news that’s changed everything about his life.
It was the resurrection that changed all these people’s lives! It wasn’t the birth of Jesus, the life of Jesus, or the death of Jesus, it was the resurrection of Jesus! The resurrection brings power to the life, death, and burial of Jesus. The resurrection is the center of the gospel, and the gospel is the center of the Bible. So the resurrection is the most important thing that’s ever happened. It literally changes everything.
Sinners like Paul can be forgiven.
Broken people like Peter can be healed.
Scattered, Fearful people like the disciples can be brought together, made whole, and empowered to live boldly in this world.
People searching for purpose are given a new life to live.
He changed everything about every person who ever embraced it.
Has it changed everything about you?
Maybe you hear all that and you’re realizing that the resurrection hasn’t actually changed that much about your life. Maybe you’re realizing that you kinda live your life like the resurrection never even happened. Maybe you’ve been denying it; maybe you’ve been ignoring it; maybe you’ve never really heard about it or understood why Jesus did it. Maybe you’ve heard about it so much growing up that it seems like old news now.
If you know the resurrection hasn’t changed your life, given you the kind of boldness and purpose we see in 1 Corinthians 15, then there are 3 ways to respond to this good news.
Look back at verse 1: “Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received.” First, RECEIVE IT. How are you receiving this news? I think today we’re conditioned to receive news just as headlines or tweets. We scroll through our feed, read the headlines, and feel like we know what’s going on. I’m not talking about that kind of receiving. I’m talking about digging into it, investigating, learning more about what Jesus did. The way we receive the news of Jesus’ resurrection should make us wanna know more, dig deeper. That’s the first way we should respond to the gospel.
There’s another way, back in verse 1 again: “Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.” The second way we should respond is to BELIEVE IT. Look at the last thing John wrote when he wrote down the story of Jesus: “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” The things he wrote down are written so that we’d believe that Jesus is the Messiah, our Savior. So that we’d believe that He IS God. And that by believing, we would have life. God has spoken to us in the Bible so that we’d believe in Jesus. Do you believe?
So receive it, believe it, and then one more time verse 1: “Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand.” That should be our third response: STAND ON IT. Make this news the foundation of our life, the firm rock that we’re standing on, the fuel for everything we do. It’s so tempting to treat God like a vitamin, to take 1 minute in the morning to read a few verses or pray and feel like that’s what’s gonna sustain us, but after you pop that vitamin do you think about it at all? Not at all. In fact, if you’re like me, you buy a Costco size thing of vitamins thinking you’ll take one a day for the next 500 days, and then end up throwing 472 of them away when they expire a year and a half later. No if you’re gonna take your stand on the good news of Jesus it’s more like the food you eat. Crave it! Dig in! Let it be what fuels your life.
Receive it. Believe it. Stand on it.
The resurrected Jesus changes everything; it will radically change your life!