“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory [over death] through our Lord Jesus.” 1Co 15:57 NKJV
Jesus promised what no other religious leader could: that He’d return from the dead, and also resurrect His followers from the grave. And He has already made a good-faith deposit on that promise. When He died, “Graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised…they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Mt 27:52-53 NKJV). And the day is fast approaching when Jesus will fulfill His promise completely. “In Christ all shall be made alive…each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1Co 15:22-23 NKJV). Note the word “afterward.” The date of Jesus’ return is classified information, but His resurrection guarantees ours. Traditional Judaism was divided on this topic. The Sadducees said, “There is no resurrection” (Ac 23:8 NKJV). They saw the grave as a one-way trip to Sheol with no escape and no hope, while the Pharisees envisioned a resurrection that was spiritual, not physical. The Greeks believed the soul of the deceased was ferried across the River Styx and released into a sunless afterlife of spirits, shades, and shadows. Then Jesus, “the firstfruits of them that slept” (1Co 15:20), entered this world of superstition and darkness and turned on the light. The word “firstfruits” can literally be translated “prototype.” Jesus was the first off the resurrection assembly line, and the rest of us who follow will look just like Him. It’s a message that dries our tears, calms our fears, and assures us that our best days are yet to come.