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  • The Resurrection Harvest

    Posted on April 16th, 2006 Pastor Kevin Draper No comments

    Based on:    1 Corinthians 15:19-26

    The Resurrection Harvest (.mp3 – 3 MB)

    In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

    1500 years before Christ abandoned the garden tomb God commanded the Israelites through Moses to bring an offering at the beginning of the grain harvest.  As they started cutting down the wheat, barley, or whatever grain it was, each Israelite would gather a small bundle of the best stalks of grain they could find and bring it to the temple.  This was the first fruits offering. 

    With this offering the Israelites gave the first and the best of their income to the Lord, knowing that the Lord would also give them the rest of the harvest.  This handful of grain was only a small part of the whole harvest, but it was God’s promise to provide an abundant final harvest.

    This first fruits offering is a comforting picture of the resurrection harvest.  God raised Christ as the first fruits and assures us that all believers will follow.

    Our Easter joy comes from the fact that Christ is raised, but from the very beginning there were those who refused to believe in Christ’s resurrection.  In fact, the Pharisees paid the soldiers who guarded the tomb to say the disciples stole the body of Jesus.  Throughout time people have doubted that Christ’s body came back to life and left the tomb.

    Even today some churches teach that Christ only had a spiritual resurrection or that the disciples were hallucinating when they saw Jesus.  Rudolf Bultmann, a theologian of the 20th century who was very influential in many Lutheran circles, even said outright, “an historical fact which involves a resurrection from the dead is utterly inconceivable.”

    Is he right?  After all none of us have ever seen someone come back to life.  Did Jesus live again after dying on the cross?  Perhaps the doubt creeps into our own minds from time to time.  We might not think about it consciously but our actions tell their own story.  We sometimes walk around depressed or sad as if it were always Good Friday but never Easter.  We are ashamed to tell others about our faith because Jesus appears to be a dead religious leader to the world.  We act as if Christ were still dead. 

    So what if Christ did not rise from the dead?  Is that such a big deal?  Can’t we still be Christians and think that Christ only rose spiritually and is only alive in our hearts as a remembrance? Absolutely not!  If Christ’s body did not physically come back to life and leave the tomb, there is no hope for our own body after we die.  Any hope we have is only for this life.  Now think of what it means to be a Christian – suffering, thinking of others more than yourself, spending time in God’s Word.  If Christ did not rise all this is for nothing.  We are wasting our time, our money, and our effort.  We are fools and we deserve to have the world pity us. 

    Picture our salvation as a house.  Christ’s living body is the key pillar holding up that house.  If Christ’s body were still in the grave, this house that we run to for refuge would be in ruins because the primary support would be ripped out.  Literally our salvation would be in shambles.

    But there is no need to despair, no need to forsake the Christian faith.  Instead, rejoice! Christ’s body is not in that grave.  He is alive.  His very real and human heart is pumping blood again and his lungs are filling with air.  Paul says, “but Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.”  After telling us how pitiable we are if Christ had not been raised, Paul tells us with the words “but indeed” that just the opposite is true.

    It is a fact that Christ is alive.  And because of that fact, the house that is our salvation still stands and it is our refuge.  Because of that fact, our Christian faith is not a waste, but full of hope for the life we will have in heaven.  Because of that fact, we are forgiven for all those times we act as if Christ were still dead.

    Christ is the “first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”  He is for us just like that first and best offering that the Israelite would bring to the temple, knowing that God would keep his promise to bless him with the rest of the harvest.  Christ is that guarantee that we who are the rest of the harvest will also rise from the dead. 

    Christ died and was raised again as the first part of the harvest.  Each of us will one day die and our bodies will be planted in the ground like a seed.  When the time is right Christ will return and our bodies will be raised to complete the resurrection harvest. 

    But why do we have to die in the first place?  Do you realize that God did not create Adam and Eve to die?  It is unnatural.  Ripping apart the body and the soul is like separating a mother from her baby – you just know it isn’t the way things should be.

    The Apostle Paul explains, “death came through one man.”  That man is Adam.  Because Adam, our first ancestor, disobeyed God we have all inherited the desire to serve ourselves instead of God.  Because of his sin and ours, we will all die.

    Not only did death come as a result of that sin, but all pain, suffering, and hardship are a result of sin.  The evil in this world is pervasive, and we too often think of it as “normal.”  Even though we know that our life after the resurrection will be much greater than our life now, we sometimes think about this world as being more important.  Make a mental list of the things you consider as your most valuable possessions – things you wouldn’t want to do without.  Where would God’s Word fit in your list? 

    Rejoice because Christ lives!  Just as all of these problems came to us through the one man, Adam, so also the solution for all of these problems comes through the one man, Jesus Christ.  God promises, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

    The resurrection of our bodies is inseparably connected with the resurrection of Christ’s body.  You can not have one without the other.  Our soul will again be joined to our own body, but it will be a glorious body, untainted by sin.

    This resurrection will not be like the miracles described in the Bible where someone was raised from the dead.  Those people eventually died again.  Our resurrection will be like that of Jesus – we will live and never again die.

    The living Christ turns death into life.  Not only is death destroyed, but every pain, every sorrow, and every hardship is also removed.  Every evil caused by Adam’s sin is removed by Christ’s death and resurrection.  Even the evil in us, our mixed up priorities in choosing this life over the next, is removed by this one man, Christ.

    For now we live in this perverse and dysfunctional world, but not so on the last day when Christ has defeated every enemy.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death itself and after our resurrection death will no longer be able to touch us. 

    Now our hope is in the life to come.  We endure persecution and troubles that come because we are Christian.  We rejoice because we know that whatever happens to us here in this life there is a much greater life waiting for us. 

    When we see the empty tomb and the living Christ we are looking at the beginning of a great harvest.  Christ is the first fruit of that harvest and the guarantee that all believers will certainly follow.

    Amen.

    And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

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