“The resurrection of Jesus Christ separates Christianity from all other religions. Christianity without the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is merely one religion among many. “And if Christ is not risen,” said the Apostle Paul, “then our preaching is empty and your faith is in vain”. (1 Corinthians 15:14) Furthermore, “You are still in your sins!” Paul could not have chosen stronger language.” (www.studymode.com/essays/The-Cornerstone-Of-Christian-Faith)
And, by the inspiration of God, David celebrated this truth centuries before the event. In Psalm 16:10 he says:
“…you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.” (Psalm 16:10)
This verse is quoted in the NT and it is interpreted by the writers of the NT as a prophetic word concerning the resurrection of Jesus. In Acts 2 Peter is preaching to the crowd and he says:
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear…36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
As we continue reading in the book of Acts we then come across Paul and his companions in “Pisidian Antioch [where]…on the Sabbath they entered the synagogue” and preached the good news of Jesus the Messiah. He spoke of Jesus’ death and that “they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead…
32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus…
34 God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay… As God has said…
“‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’ [Psalm 16]
36 “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.
38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin…” (Acts 13)
I think that sometimes as 21st Century Christians we easily forget the vital importance of the resurrection in relation to the Good News we preach. But if Paul spent the whole of 1 Corinthians 15 (58 verses!) on this one particular subject, then it seems to me we should make it more of a priority in our preaching. As he says, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. BUT Christ has indeed been raised from the dead…death has been swallowed up in victory…thanks be to God. He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15: 19, 20, 54, 57)
Let me conclude with the summary of this psalm in the words of Tremper Longman, who says, “The Psalmist is aware that he needs God in order to be safe in this world, so he calls out to him to keep him safe. The rest of the poem expresses his deeply felt confidence in God’s good gifts and ability to provide the security that he needs. At the end, he asserts God’s ability to keep him safe even from death itself…a voice that expresses hope in life after death…this text provides an Old Testament background to the belief in the afterlife that comes to full blossom in the New Testament with its teaching on bodily resurrection.” (see references # 30)
Thank you our Father for the hope that is ours in Christ. Hope not only in this life but for all eternity. Teach us then to live well, to “stand firm, [to] let nothing move [us]. Always [to] give [ourselves] fully to the work of the Lord, because [we] know that [our] labour in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) Amen