1Cor 15:12-20, 31-37, 42-44
Two weeks ago Horque (Rodriguez) spoke to us about the law of sowing and reaping. We will reap what we sow (Gal 6:7). This is true whether we sow good seed or bad seed. Jesus sows the good seed; the devil sows the bad (Mt 13:37-39). There is going to both a good harvest of good fruit and a bad one of bad fruit. When things in our life, such as marriages, employment, studies, choices and decisions show a pattern of poor consequences, we need to ask and examine ourselves as to what seed we are sowing that is producing such poor results. Or…to examine our hearts and minds to see in what kind of soil the seed of God’s Word is planted. When things in our life and character are prospering and healthy, praise and thank God for His grace and power, for your success and righteousness are found in Messiah alone.
Today I want to speak of another kind of sowing and reaping: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the reality of the Holy Spirit living in us who believe. The resurrection of Jesus is the essential complement to His death on the cross for our sin. His resurrection proved that God approved of Him – not only of His life and teachings, but also of who He in fact is: the Son of God who came into the world to give His life for the redemption and salvation of sinners. As the Bible plainly states, there is no one righteous, not even one amongst the children of Adam. So Jesus rightly proclaimed that He came to save sinners, not the righteous; and in doing so, He testified to being the Savior of the world, especially for those who believe. The cross of our Lord puts to death all pride and efforts and works to be righteous by our own standards. The perfect Man took all our sin upon Himself and even became a curse by hanging on a tree. Jesus sowed His life unto death and reaped eternal life, for Himself and for believers.
Notice v. 31-32 of our passage. Paul is saying that he dies daily for the sake of Jesus and the church—at the expense of his own well-being—and that the resurrection governs the manner of life we live! If there is not life after death; or if there is no judgment regarding sin and faith; or if all we have is this life…then why should we suffer for the sake of righteousness? Let’s just eat and drink, for tomorrow we die! This, you remember, was the behavior of the Israelis and the mixed multitude after they built the golden calf (Ex 32:6). Why did they do this? Because they did not believe that Moses was going to come back down to them after going up on Mt. Sinai to meet with YHVH God. He had been up there for 40 days, almost six weeks! Jesus Himself warn His disciples to take heed to ourselves lest our hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of His life, and that day of His return come upon us unexpectedly (Lk 21: 34). Paul, too, is saying that when we do not believe with our hearts that Jesus rose from the dead, then our whole basis for holy living is undone.
I remember that from the time I was saved and realized that Jesus was coming again soon – and this excited me! – my immediate response was to tell Randi that we must change our life-style to be ready for Him. Just this week I took Tamar back to her army base, and she told me that a high-ranking officer came to examine the camp. Everyone had to work to make the place and themselves perfect for his visit and inspection. When we live in the fear of God, and know that He is always present in the Spirit, and that the Lord will surely return, the reality of His holiness and love will motivate and inspire us to sanctify ourselves and make ourselves ready, even as a bride for her bridegroom. Verse 33: “Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits. Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God.”
What kind of sowing are we to be doing? v. 36 “What you sow is not made alive unless it dies.” v. 42-43 “So also is the resurrection of the dead. That sown in corruption is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power.” “To know Christ Jesus my Lord and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, in the hope of my own resurrection.” (Philp 3:10-11)
Long-suffering is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. How often do we sow ourselves and still not see the result we pray for, hope for? How often do we share the gospel and still see so few accepting and believing? I received an e-mail this week with a story of two college students wanting to earn some money for their studies. They invited a famous Polish piano player, and agreed that they would pay him $2000 and the rest of the money would be theirs. What happened was that they only took in $1600. They gave it to him and promised to pay him the rest as soon as possible. The piano player did not accept that and instead gave them the $1600 and told them to give him whatever was left after all their expenses. Years later, the piano player was involved in trying to feed many of his countrymen after the WW1. The U.S. sent over much relief even before the request went out. The piano player went to Paris to meet and thank the U.S. delegation, and the director of the relief was one of the students who had been blessed years earlier by the Pole’s generosity.
In God’s plan, if we are obedient to sow, to do good, then it is His responsibility to bring in the harvest. The exciting part is like that of the farmer, who with patience waits for the harvest. It is not a matter of will God do it, but rather how and when. The reaping is always greater than the sowing.
The reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and of all who trust in Him keeps us going in the face of opposition, disappointment, failure. We rejoice with the angels in Heaven for each one who is born again. The angels also know that the death and resurrection of Jesus will result in a great harvest and great joy at the end of the age: “He shall see the labor of His soul and be satisfied!” (Is 53:11)
As Jesus walked and lived, so are we to learn the way of God and follow the LAMB wherever He goes. A lamb has no great honor or strength. The greatest and most powerful of all showed us that we must die to ourselves if we are going to gain life. Jesus died willingly on the cross in weakness, dishonor, becoming a curse hanging on a tree. This was His VICTORY!
Titus 3:14 And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.
Let us continue to sow – to sacrifice — both ourselves and the good seed of God’s Word, with the certainty and expectation of living faith that believes in the resurrection of our bodies into glorious bodies at the coming in great power and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.