The trial continues in Acts Chapter 25. Festus, a new governor, has come to power and Paul is under trial again. What a political sham! Everyone knows that Paul hasn’t really done anything to deserve punishment, but the influential Jews will not give up. Paul knows that if his fate is to be determined in Jerusalem he will not survive. He has to appeal to Caesar at this point.
Surprisingly, Festus has a real handle on the situation. He sees that Paul hasn’t done anything wrong. He just disagrees with the Jews on the resurrection and about Jesus. So he hands the case off to King Agrippa. It’s a total mess of a case. Some important people will be miffed if Paul gets let go. A leader’s popularity may be at stake here. Is Paul’s life really worth that? Finally, Paul must think the trial will end soon. There has to be a decision made at some point!
I picture a pitiful-looking fella appealing to the powers that be with kind words and loving eyes. He has just spent years in prison and the accusers really have no evidence against him. There is no case. Paul remains steadfast and faithful even though things don’t look so good for him. Could we do the same?
We have come to the end of I Corinthians 15, also known as the Resurrection Chapter. The last few days we’ve had chunkier denser passages but today we end with just one verse:
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”
Paul has explained a lot in the previous 57 verses, such as:
- The resurrection appearances of the Lord to many groups and individuals including Paul himself (3-8)
- The absurdity of denying the resurrection if you hold to the faith (12-19)
- Jesus being the prototype of those who have fallen asleep in him. Just as Jesus was raised, so too you and I will also at his return (20, 23)
- All those “in Christ” can and will share in the victories of Jesus and have life (22)
- Our bodies will be raised completely transformed and glorified and we will receive the gift of immortality. Because of this transformation through Jesus we are able to have access to God and entrance into his kingdom (42-50)
- At the resurrection event sin and death will finally and completely be defeated and those “in Christ” will experience victory made possible by God in and through Jesus (54-57)
Then Paul concludes, “therefore”. In light of the resurrection and its implications, this is how you you should live. Paul says four things: be steadfast, be immovable, abound in the work of the Lord, and know your work is not in vain in Jesus. I want to take a moment to look at each one briefly.
To be steadfast is to hold onto something tightly and to be without waiver. In light of Jesus’ resurrection, no adversity we face in this life should have the power to keep us from remaining in the faith and and stop us from being obedient. In the same vein, we should be immovable. Our hope and faith in Christ should be immovable with the reality of Jesus rising from the dead and God’s promise to those who are in Christ. The next phrase is a call for action. Because Jesus rose from the dead and is coming back we should strive to work for the Lord. One, because we want to share the good news with all people and disciple them, and two, he will hold us accountable for the works we have done in the body, “for we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (II Cor. 5.10). Lastly, Paul offers encouragement. Being in ministry can be a grind and sometimes you wonder if you’re making a difference at all. Sometimes you won’t see the fruit of your labor and someone else will. But you know who won’t forget or miss all the work you do and the fruit that comes from it? God and Jesus. Because God is faithful and Jesus is returning we can have confidence and assurance that our work is not in vain because even though no one may remember the work we did or see anything come from it, God and Jesus see it. And you will be rewarded as such when Jesus returns and you are given life.
Thank you for reading and live life in light of the resurrection reality.
(Photo by Alice Railton of Lake Waubee at Camp Mack in Milford, IN)