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.
We’ve spent this week looking at Paul’s defense of the resurrection, looking at actual historic evidence from his day and things that we know today. But today we ask this question. So what? Why does it matter? Why is this a big deal? Why should we really even care?
For Paul and for Christians throughout all of history, Jesus’ physical resurrection is at the center (along with the Trinity) of what is called “orthodoxy.” This means right belief. There are other things that fall under the banner of orthodoxy but the resurrection is so central. For through the atonement upon the cross and the resurrection from the grace, the effect of the fall was beginning to be undone (cosmic), we are forgiven (personal) and death and sin are defeated (restoration). The grave is, to put it crudely, like a giant reset button. The effect of the fall is beginning to be undone and we are beginning to be restored.
Through the cross and the grave sin is forgiven and death is defeated. Jesus, being the perfect lamb of God was able to pay the price for the sinfulness of humanity. Through His perfect sacrifice, no more must we offer of any offering for sin, Jesus was that offering. As the old hymn says, Jesus paid it all. Our sins have been forgiven. The price has been paid. That is the atonement. The cross justified and us and made way for our forgiveness.
The resurrection was the conquering of death. When Jesus rose from the dead, no more did death hold sway over us as humans, but through faith in Jesus, we could receive the Holy Spirit and know that same resurrection now and in all eternity. Through the resurrection, death was forever defeated.
If He had not been raised, then none of this is true. Our religion is false. As Paul said, if Christ is not raised, we are to be pitied. The resurrection is the ultimate triumph of God over sin, death, and the grace, and it is the spiritual and intellectual lynchpin of our faith. It is at the center of our faith. For God so loved the world.
To put it bluntly, without the resurrection, there is no Christianity. It is that central to our faith.
It all starts there. Do you believe it? And have you put your faith in the savior who has paid the price and overcome, even death. Because that is where it all begins.
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