1 Corinthians 15:19-26
19If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.21For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of
the dead has also come through a human being;22for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his
coming those who belong to Christ.24Then comes the end,
when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every
ruler and every authority and power.25For he must reign
until he has put all his enemies under his feet.26The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
While shaking hands with the pastor after worship,
Mrs. Jones noticed that he had a rather bad cut on his face.
“Why pastor, what happened? How did you cut your
face?,” she asked.
“Well, I was thinking about my sermon this morning
while I was shaving,” the pastor replied. “I guess I wasn’t concentrating and
cut myself in the process.”
“That’s too bad,” Mrs. Jones replied. “Next time you
should concentrate on your shaving and cut your sermon.”
The Lutheran Church has a custom for an Easter sermon to begin with the telling of a joke.
I don’t know the origin of it, but I guess that this tradition might have been made for the people who can’t
laugh and celebrate the resurrection of Christ.
Today is Easter Sunday and this is the day
that we can all laugh and celebrate the resurrection. There are many reasons we
can joyfully laugh and celebrate this day. I will give you one reason among
them and I hope that this can be a fruitful and meaningful message for you.
Our Spiritual journey is full of stories.
Each of us has our own story. We also learn many stories from books, movies,
and relationship with others. Interestingly, in many stories, there are some
enemies, which make the stories more dramatic. Think of the characters such as
Batman vs. Joker, Little Red Riding Hood vs. the woof, Frodo vs. Sauron in The Lord of the Rings, Sherlock Homes
vs. Moriarty, so on and so on. In my case, me and my five year old son. It is a
little different for the above enemies, but my son always asks me to be a
monster who scares him. I don’t know what kind of monsters he wants me to be.
So I just pretend to attach him, and all of a sudden he becomes a hero who
defeats the monster. He throws something to me and they hit me. Sometimes he
kicks me and it hurts.
Likewise, we as Christian also have enemies in our spiritual journey. Paul says in Ephesians 6
that “we wrestle” against the powers of darkness. And “You be strong… You put
on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand.” In our spiritual
journey, we have many enemies such as pride, self-egoism, lack of faith, and
What are your spiritual enemies? Each of us has various enemies according to our life situation.
No matter how many enemies we have, we all end up with two great enemies. Do you
know what they are? They are sin and death and we are weak before them. We don’t
have the ability to conquer sin and death on our own.
Paul believes that Adam was literally our first parent and that Adam’s sin infected
the whole race and led us to know sin which resulted in both physical and spiritual death.
That is, we all died in Adam. However, Christ our Lord has been raised from the dead
and became the first fruits of those who have died. This means that Christ
conquered sin and death. Paul says “For since death came through a human being,
Adam, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being, Jesus
the Christ; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.”
Today is the day when sin and death, our greatest enemies are conquered by Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ resurrection tells us that death is not the end of everything. Today, those who follow Jesus
have a new message to proclaim. Not only does Jesus’ resurrection proclaim his
victory over death, but also offers forgiveness for all sins, and invites
humanity to live a new life. He became the symbol of hope that we will not be
left for sin and death and that we can have a new life in God’s kingdom. Our life
and our world have been turned upside down by Jesus’ resurrection. Our greatest
and last enemies have been conquered, so we can joyfully laugh and celebrate
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is as essential to the Christian faith as His death upon the
cross. Paul writes in 1Corinthians “For what I received I passed on to you
as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the
Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according
to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Especially, Paul emphasizes the
importance of the resurrection with his statement “And if Christ has not
been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
Then, here is a question to take into consideration for our lives as Christians and for our
church mission. How can we become a community which lives out our faith in
Christ’s conquer in sin and death? How can we, as a small church in Chilmark,
spread today’s good news to others? How can we effectively build a faithful, fruitful,
and meaningful relationship with God and our neighbors?
To find the answers to those questions, let’s start with a simple step. Celebrate the resurrection
with our whole hearts and keep the faith that Jesus conquered our last enemies,
sin and death. Then, celebrate our unity with God and neighbors through Jesus’
resurrection. Then, we can take the next step to become the second fruits which
follow Christ, the first fruits. Even though we are a small church, our faith
can be powerful enough to influence on the island and even the world.
Here is a very interesting theory. It is called the Hundredth Monkey Effect. Have you heard of
it? The Hundredth Monkey Effect was first introduced by biologist Lyall
Watson in his 1980 book, Lifetide. He reported that Japanese primatologists had stumbled upon a surprising
The Japanese monkey, Macaca fuscata, had been observed in the wild for
a period of over 30 years. In 1952, on the island of Koshima, scientists were
providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkeys liked
the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant. An
18-month-old female named Imo found she could solve the problem by washing the
potatoes in a nearby stream. She taught this to her mother. Her playmates also
learned this new way and they taught their mothers too. This cultural
innovation was gradually picked up by various monkeys before the eyes of the
scientists. Between 1952 and 1958 all the monkeys learned to wash the sandy
sweet potatoes to make them more palatable. Then something startling took
place. Almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating
them and a most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the
habit of washing sweet potatoes then jumped over the sea. This cultural
innovation started on an isolated small island, but Colonies of monkeys on
other islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama began washing
their sweet potatoes. Scientists concluded that when a certain critical number
achieves an awareness, this new awareness may be communicated from mind to
Do you get the meaning? Let us start living out our resurrection faith.
Our lives will influence the others’ lives on this Island and even over the
sea. Our mission is to spread God’s good news through the resurrection of Jesus
to our neighbors. Our start will be small but it will be great because our
awareness to the resurrection faith will be communicated from mind to mind.
Today, Jesus has been resurrected from the dead. Let us together celebrate and
spread this good news to our neighbors. Jesus our Lord is alive.
Let us pray.
Dear God, we are filled with joy on this day of resurrection. In our
lives filled with sin and death, you have given us a new message that Jesus
conquered sin and death. Now, give us strength to live in light of our faith in
the resurrection. Give us the joy of living with the faith in Christ and the
courage to bring good news to the world around us. In your name, we pray. Amen.