But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:20
Perhaps it’s been a long time since you’ve walked through a cemetery. Then again, perhaps not. When you did, what are the emotions you felt?
Your answer depends on the circumstances, of course. Maybe the circumstances were such that you felt crushing grief. Maybe you felt a numbness or felt relief mixed with exhaustion. Or it could be that the circumstances were such that you felt simple curiosity about the people buried there. Maybe you felt a fascination about the past. Maybe you felt quiet reflection.
In your imagination, put yourself inside a cemetery for a moment. Walk slowly and look up and down the rows of stones. The words of God before us in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 are from the apostle Paul. In that cemetery, imagine the apostle Paul walking with you. As you walk with him side-by-side, there is something else you would sense from Paul—something different. You would sense from him a great feeling of anticipation.
From 1 Corinthians 15, we know why. There, the apostle Paul points to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As he does, he makes it clear that Jesus’ resurrection is not some isolated, one-time event. Instead, he reminds us that Jesus is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. In other words, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is only the first of many.
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is God’s exclamation point to the reality that Jesus Christ, Son of God, has lived a perfect life on our behalf; that he has suffered and died on the cross for our every sin. Through faith in him, we possess forgiveness of sin, peace, joy, and life eternal. Jesus’ resurrection has set in motion a series of wondrous things that are to come.
Which brings us back to the cemetery through which you are walking. In such a place, at times will you feel grief, loss, reflection? Yes, you will feel all of these. Most of all, however, there is anticipation. On the Last Day, these graves will open. The bodies of those who have died in the Lord will reunite with their souls. And the roar of victory will last forever.
Lord Jesus, fill me with anticipation for the wonders we will experience when you return. Amen.