In our encounters with Jesus passages, leading up to Pentecost, this week we will look at an encounter that is not found in the Gospels, but one that Paul tells us about in 1 Corinthians. We’ll look this week at 1 Corinthians 15: 1-11:
Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2 through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.
As I mentioned yesterday, there are many voices in Corinth that say that the resurrection is not a big deal and that it mostly didn’t even happen. Paul’s theological point is this – well, if it didn’t happen, then there is really no reason to be a Chrisitan, Jesus’ death was of no value and we are still dead in our sins. Paul will hammer that theological point home. But Paul doesn’t’ start with theology, he starts with cold, hard facts.
Paul was given this good news. Jesus died for sins, as scripture tells us, was buried, and was raised from the dead, just as scripture tells us would happen. He appeared to Peter, then to the rest of the disciples. Then to 500 folks (most of whom are still living) then to James and the Apostles. And then to Paul. Paul is giving the names of people. Peter. James. Himself. Other five hundred people. Peter is saying, hey this isn’t just some fairy tale that someone made up, this happened. Here’s the proof. Here are the people. And guess what, I’m one of them.
Paul is wanting the people to understand the historic truth of the resurrection. That is why it is so significant that he names the names that he does, as well as the 500, and mentions that they are still living. This can be tracked, down, this can be proven. Say you don’t believe me. Fine. What about them? Them? Or them? They can’t all be making it up, can they? And if it were so, someone would tell, that many people can’t keep a secret.
Paul wants them (and us) to know about the historic truth of the resurrection. Tomorrow, we’ll talk more about it in our context, and what we know to be true.
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