But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. (1 Cor. 15:20)
When my father died, my stepmother gave his body to medical science. A year later his ashes were returned and we set a burial date. We had the internment service, a lovely reception, and then I got on the road to return to Houston. About two hours into the drive I received a surprising text from a family member. We had put my father’s remains into the wrong hole in the ground.
Another family member soon called. He was angry about this situation and asked me how I felt. I said, “I think it’s hilarious.” He asked, “Why aren’t you upset?” I said, “What matters isn’t what hole we put him in, but where he is now. He’s not in any hole. He’s with God.”
How could I say these words with such conviction? Because I believe what Paul proclaims in today’s reading: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead.” Fact. Not a passing fancy. Not a hopeful dream. Not a mere wish. Fact.
Paul can speak about the fact of Jesus’ resurrection because he met the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus. The voice he heard from heaven was Jesus speaking. Paul also came to know that without the factually resurrected Jesus at his side, he wouldn’t have been able to preach, teach, and heal.
I could speak with such assurance about where my father now is because I knew that he knew Jesus and that Jesus knew him. What matters isn’t where my father’s remains might be placed, but where he placed his life, death, and future hope—and that was into the hands of Jesus.
Of course I want to honor my father’s ashes; and, of course, I was relieved when we finally got them into the right place. But my joy, again, isn’t where his ashes reside, but where my father’s resurrected life now resides—and that’s with all those who have died in the mercy, peace, and grace of Jesus.
The fact that Jesus has been raised and that He’s with us now gives me great strength and encouragement. I pray that this same fact will bring great encouragement to you.
- When, where, and how have you met the resurrected Christ? When have you felt His presence, heard His word, knew His love, received His forgiveness?
- As you contemplate Jesus bringing you from this life into the next, what is the work you need and want to do before you say goodbye and move on?
- Paul knew that he couldn’t have taught, preached, and healed without the resurrected Christ at his side. How might your life change if you remembered the same?