The Resurrection of Our Lord
[1 Corinthians 15:17-22] “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”
The Thing Most Needed
Life doesn’t happen like a game of golf or a hand of solitaire. You’re not an individual player in a solo sport.
Life happens more like a basketball game or baseball, take your pick. Yes, there are individual aspects to our life. But there are also group aspects to life - and to death - and salvation. These most important things have group, or corporate, reality to them.
On a baseball team, the whole team wins or loses the game - even if the victory is by one man’s one home run. A one point game is a victory for the whole team - even for the guys whose feet didn’t run the bases.
And the whole team can lose because of one man’s big mess up.
Winning or losing: though accomplished by individuals, the victory or the loss happens to the whole team.
Mankind has a team-like existence. Not in the sense that we all cooperate and get along but in the sense that we are more part of a group - part of the same thing together - than we are independent, disconnected individuals. At least more than we realize. We may pride ourselves in individualism in our culture, but how true is that?
The first man, Adam, has this group reality of our existence right in his name. “Adam” means “Man” as in “Mankind.” When “Adam” lost the game, we all lost. Man fell when Adam fell. “For as in Adam all die…” “For as by a man (one man) came death…” [1 Corinthians 15:21-22].And, “just as sin came into the world through one man…” “Many died through one man's trespass…” And, “one trespass led to condemnation for all men” [Romans 5:12,15,18]. One man lost man’s game. We are each born sinners by his sin.
Adam’s great missing of the mark - his sin which brought death and condemnation - was the whole group’s downfall because all of man comes from that one man. This isn’t unfair but is the reality that we are not isolated, totally disconnected individuals. Our nature doesn’t come from ourselves. We are made out of those who came before us. We share and come from one man’s fallen human nature.
But Christ is risen. He is the living man. Jesus Christ is a New Man. Jesus is called the Second Adam. In Adam all die. In Christ, the New Adam, all are made alive - all who are in Christ.
When the Son of God took on flesh and became man, this was a new start - He is a New, un-fallen Man for you to come from. This New Man, by His death, paid what was owed by the old man, setting him (you!) free from his debt of punishment owed due to sin.
The New Man, Jesus, in addition to dying for the sins of the old man, also lived a praiseworthy life. He lived life without missing the mark. Jesus has in Him a new, fresh humanity that is not fallen in sin.
Therefore, after Jesus gives His life as payment for the sins of the old man, He is then vindicated and raised from the dead for His praiseworthy life. He is declared to be just and the Son of God. He is lifted up and glorified by God the Father as the Righteous Man.
What does that mean for you? By your birth you came from the old man of sin and death. Now by your Baptism you come from the man of righteousness and life. The risen Jesus lives forever as the New Man for you to come from. Just as He is risen to new life, now a new man also arises in you.
Your sinful flesh is from Adam. But a new man in you is from Jesus. There is a dying you, a sinner. But now, from Christ, there is a resurrected-life you, a living man or woman. New - born again - from Holy Baptism. The Man you now come from is Risen, Justified, New, and never dies again.
Christ won the victory. He is counted righteous by the Father. In Him, you share in His score. You too are counted righteous before God - the sin of the old man paid for - the righteousness of the New Man now shared as yours too. One Man won, and you win in Him.
The game of life is no game. It is life and death. Permanent. Forever. And you now have so much to be thankful for. For, “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world”, but now you are alive in the risen Christ —
— because “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him” [Ephesians 2:1-6].
“For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” [1 Corinthians 15:21-22]. “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness - His praiseworthy death on the cross - leads to justification and life for all men.” [Romans 5:18]
He is risen; now you live. He is just; now you are justified - counted right with God.
What now? “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” [Romans 6:3-5].
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died - in a mystery, you have already died and risen with Him - and your life is hidden with Christ in God… Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry… anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth…” Why? “seeing that you have put off the Old Self - the old Adam - with its practices and have put on the New Self…” [Colossians 3:1-10]
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” [Galatians 3:27]. The New Man, the risen Jesus, is now your robe and dress. Daily wear Him.
“What does such baptizing with water signify?” – “It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” [Luther’s Small Catechism]
Participating in Adam’s loss is easy. It comes naturally. It goes with the flow and the course of this world. Its end is death and hell.
Being part of Christ’s victory is a free gift of grace. It is given in Baptism. It is for unworthy sinners. It makes the old new. It is lived and walked. “Not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy”[Titus 3:5].
Everything else passes away. This new life in the risen Christ is the thing most needed.
It is free. But it is lost if it is not fed and sustained. It is renewed right here.
We all lost in Adam. But in Christ, you have the victory. Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia! Amen.