Jesus the firstling
In this life, we run the risk of being persecuted for Christ. We give up the temporary treasures and joys of this world. If this life were everything we get, why should we give up something? If we give up everything for this one message that is not even true, we would rightly be ridiculed.
The gospel tells us that we have hope in Christ for a future life, because it depends on the resurrection of Jesus. Easter reminds us that Jesus came back to life - and He made us promise that we too will live again. If he had not risen, we would have no hope in this or future life. Jesus is truly risen, so we have hope.
Paul affirms the good news: «Christ rose from the dead! He is the first one that God raised. His resurrection gives us the guarantee that even those who died in faith in Jesus will be resurrected » (1 Cor 15,20 New Geneva translation).
In ancient Israel, the first grain that was harvested each year was carefully cut and offered in worship to God. Only then could the rest of the grain be eaten (Leviticus 3, 23-10). When they offered God the first sheaf that Jesus symbolized, they recognized that all their grain was a gift from God. The first victim represented the entire harvest.
Paul calls Jesus the first fruit and at the same time says that Jesus is God's promise for a much bigger harvest that is yet to come. He is the first to be resurrected, and thus represents those who are raised. Our future depends on his resurrection. We follow him not only in his sufferings, but also in his glory (Romans 8,17).
Paul does not see us as isolated individuals - he sees us as belonging to a group. To which group? Will we be people who follow Adam or those who follow Jesus?
"Death came from a person," says Paul. In the same way, "the resurrection of the dead also comes from a human being, because just as everyone dies in Adam, so all will come to life in Christ" (1 Cor 15,21: 22). Adam was the first fruit of death; Jesus was the first fruit of the resurrection. When we are in Adam, we share his death with him. When we are in Christ, we share with him his resurrection and eternal life.
The gospel says all believers in Christ come to life. This is not just a temporary benefit in this life - we will enjoy it forever. "Everyone in turn: Christ is the first, after that when he comes, those who belong to him" (1 Cor 15,23). Just as Jesus rose from the grave, so will we rise to a new and incredibly better life. We cheer! Christ has risen, and we with him!
by Michael Morrison