“But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first-fruits of them that slept.”
I Corinthians 15:20
No other part of the Gospel produces greater joy than this.
Why do we usually only focus upon this Reality once-a-year, Pilgrim, when this is the essence of the Good News? His having lived a sinless life helps us to know He understands what we’re going through (Heb. 4:14-16). And, His being “the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29, 36), making us right with the Father through His Blood (Rom. 5:6-11; II Cor. 5:21; Heb. 9:14), certainly helps us better understand how we can be cleansed from sin, forgiven and adopted into God’s Family.
But, none of these impacts us more than His Resurrection from the dead!
Only those with a working knowledge of the Bible can appreciate the deep implications of the Incarnation and Christ’s Substitutionary Atonement. And, even the most serious of Bible students cannot fathom truths like the Trinity, God’s Sovereignty, Biblical eschatology, etc.
That’s why the central essence and thrust of our simple, Gospel “Seed-sowing” must be today’s Manna: “But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first-fruits of them that slept.” Everything else pales in comparison.
There’s no doubt Paul’s readers had a Jewish background and were embracers of Jesus as the Promised Messiah. Thus, they had a working knowledge of the Law and the sacrifices. That’s why his describing Jesus as “the First-fruits of them that slept” was so powerful.
They knew well the ins-and-outs of the Passover and the Passover meal. They also knew the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Feast of First-fruits were an integral part of this celebration. On the first day of the week (Sunday) after the Jewish Passover Sabbath (Saturday) they’d go out to their fields, which were ready for harvest, and pluck a handful of grain. They’d then go back to the priest, who’d do a “wave offering” to Heaven as a sign of thanksgiving and anticipation of a bountiful harvest.
Thus, when Jesus arose from the grave, He became “the First-fruits of them that slept”—i.e., the First in a long line of future harvests. From that day until now, millions upon millions have come to know the Risen Lord as their personal Savior. And, because of His Resurrection, they do not fear death and the grave. . .choosing to sing instead, “Because He lives I can face tomorrow, Because He lives all fear is gone–because I know He holds the future and life is worth the living just because He lives.” Hallelujah!!
Oh, dear Pilgrim, are you living in the power of that Blessed Assurance today? Or, have you allowed the ills of the world and the sins of the flesh to rob you of that Victory? Come now to Christ and “lay aside every weight and the sin that does so easily beset you and run with patience the race that is set before you as you look unto Jesus, the Author AND Finisher of your faith” (Heb. 12:1b-2a). Then, be faithful to sow the Seed. . .watering the soil with tears. . . cultivating it with kindness. . .fertilizing it with faith. . .looking forward to the day when you can “reap with joy, bringing your sheaves with you” (Ps. 126:5-6). Amen and amen.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated August 6, 2009