1 Corinthians 15:14–21 (ESV): And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
My family makes fun of me for being dismissive of their "What if?" questions. To their "What if [this]?" and "What if [that]?" I usually respond, "That's hypothetical" or "That's counterfactual." Perhaps it is a flaw in my character, but I have very little interest in what could have been, what might be, or what potentially could happen - I want to focus my attention on what has happened, what is certain, and what we know will happen in the future.
However, counterfactuality can be used powerfully for rhetorical effect, as St. Paul does in 1 Corinthians 15:14-21. He entertains for a moment the implications that would follow if Jesus had not come back to life and emerged from the grave, never to die again. In that case, then (1) preaching the Gospel is pointless; (2) it is futile to trust in Christ; (3) we are misrepresenting God; (4) we remain dead in our sins—condemned to hell; (5) those who have died as Christians are in hell; and (6) Christians are foolish, deluded dupes for hoping for a future resurrection from the dead.
But IN FACT, Jesus is risen, so all these hypothetical statements are false, and each can be turned into its opposite truth. God turns everything around in the resurrection! So this means that (1) preaching the Gospel is life-giving; (2) it is fruitful to trust in Christ; (3) we are accurately representing God's message of salvation; (4) we are alive in Christ—destined for heaven; (6) those who have died as Christians are safe with Christ in Abraham's bosom; and (6) Christians are wise and sensible in hoping for a future resurrection from the dead.
Easter Sunday has greeted us with the good news from the angel to the women: Jesus “has risen; He is not here” (Mark 16:6). The empty tomb proclaims the resurrection of Jesus, and there is nothing counterfactual about that!
Prayer: O God, in the paschal feast You restore all creation. Continue to send Your heavenly gifts upon Your people that they may walk in perfect freedom and receive eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Prayer requests: for the family of Jeri Gruetzner, who will be laid to rest today; for Bessie Mahaffey and Alma Gause, under hospice care; for our homebound members: Joe and Lynn Cottle, Carolyn Dube, Duane Gruetzner, Delma Roitsch, Willard and Ann Teinert, Joycelynn Harvey, Virginia Wilkins, Cheryl Kieschnick, Wilbur Gaskamp, Doris George, Alice Kovar, Helen Ray Gustafson, Uce Gruetzner, Ruth Wissen.