I Corinthians 15:3-20
What Really Happened at the Resurrection
Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy 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, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And 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. (1 Corinthians 15:3–20).
Main Point: Jesus brought all Old Testament and New Testament believers salvation through His death, burial, and resurrection as the Son of God.
I. Before Jesus’ resurrection, everyone died and went to the underworld. (Acts 2:27–31).
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3).
II. In the Old Testament, the underworld was “Sheol;” to the Greeks it was “Hades.” (Acts 2:27-31).
The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ (Luke 16:22–26).
a. O.T. saints went to the underworld called “Abraham’s bosom” or “paradise.”
And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42–43).
b. The wicked went to the underworld called “Gehenna,” “Hades,” or “Hell.”
The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side (Luke 16:23).
III. Jesus descended into Sheol to declare His victory and free the captive O.T. saints. (Matthew 12:40).
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey (1 Peter 3:18–20).
For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. (1 Peter 4:6).
IV. After His descent into Sheol, Jesus ascended into heaven with the O.T. saints.
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. (Ephesians 4:7–10).
She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (Which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” (John 20:16–17).
The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27:52–53).
V. Since the resurrection, the wicked still go to hell, but the believers go to heaven. “We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6–8).
Challenge: Do you believe in Jesus Christ and his resurrection? Have you trusted Christ as your Lord and Savior? Are you going to heaven when you die?