In summarizing the necessity and nature of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul draws a very short conclusion:
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (15:58).
That exhortation can be made even more concisely: because of the resurrection, work. Hard.
Spiritual work (note that it is the Lord’s work that is being compelled) will result from the resurrection. And the work will often be laborious, hard, even “sweaty.” While all work done for Christ is good, not all work done for Christ is easy.
We should not be surprised that Paul makes this conclusion. This was the conclusion that our Savior also made at virtually all His recorded appearances after His resurrection.
In John 21, after Peter publicly denied Christ three times while Christ was being tried (Lk. 22:54ff), our Savior publicly restored Peter to ministry with a three-fold admonition: “Shepherd/tend My sheep/lambs” (21:15-17). Because the resurrection was true and because Peter had been restored to the Savior, it was also necessary for Peter to invest himself in resurrection work. That work was the care of the Great Shepherd’s sheep who trusted in the Shepherd and His resurrection.
In Matthew 28, after appearing to the Eleven (this may also have been the time when He appeared to the 500 referenced in 1 Cor. 15:6), Jesus commanded His followers, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:19–20). Because He has been resurrected, the disciples were instructed to work at making disciples (everywhere in the world) who would obey Christ. Notice as well that the power to accomplish that task was the presence of the resurrected Christ (He could be with them perpetually, v. 20, because He had been eternally resurrected).
In Luke 24:46-48, prior to the ascension, Jesus told the Eleven that His suffering, death, and resurrection had been foretold in the OT Scriptures and that repentance of sinners and the forgiveness of God would be the resulting message taken to the nations — and the Eleven were to be witnesses (testifiers) of the reality of all those truths. While Jesus didn’t say, “work hard,” the hardness of the work was implicit in taking the gospel to the (unbelieving, rebellious) nations and declaring Christ and helping sinners learn to follow and obey Christ.
Finally, in Acts 1:8, the last thing Jesus said as He ascended to Heaven was that His followers were to be active in witnessing to the power of His resurrection throughout the world — from Jerusalem outward. Again, taking that message to the nations would be hard work if only the travel of that day was considered. But when the resistance to the message is also included, as well as troubles that arise when believing sinners struggle with sanctification, the hardness of the work was multiplied.
Because Christ has been resurrected, work is possible for Jesus’ followers.
Because Christ has been resurrected, work is necessary for Jesus’ followers.
Both our Savior and the apostle Paul affirm the connection between the resurrection and spiritual work: “Christ has been resurrected and alive — declare that truth wherever you can…” The work entailed by Christ may not always be easy. But it will always be a joy as we consider the privilege of being used by our Savior for His purposes, and as we consider the treasure and worth of the message that has been entrusted to us (2 Cor. 4:7-10).