FROM TRAGEDY TO TRIUMPH
Lord, I believe in Your personal, physical resurrection from the dead.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 15:1–11
The Resurrection of Christ
15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve 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 to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
If an entire 58-verse chapter is devoted to one theme, how important must it be?
It is not surprising, given all the problems in this church, that Paul now returns to the bedrock of the Gospel and reminds his readers of the reliability of the truth upon which his message rests and the crucial importance of faithfulness to it. In verses 3 and 4 we have a confession of faith which places Christ’s death and resurrection at the heart of Christian belief and hope. Notice the mention of the fact that “he was buried” (4), directing our attention to the terrible day between the horror of Good Friday and the glory of Easter Sunday. That day, sometimes called Holy Saturday, is often overlooked in our eagerness to move directly from the cross to the empty tomb. Yet that particular Sabbath, when Jesus was dead, seemingly turning the world into darkness, is an integral part of the Easter story. This should prevent us from turning the Gospel into a form of triumphalism which ignores the reality of the pain and suffering of a godless world.
Another striking phrase in this passage is in verse 8, wherein Paul describes himself as “one abnormally born.” It is possible that his opponents are deploying this abusively, highlighting his lack of credentials as an original disciple of Jesus coupled with his pre-conversion, fanatical opposition to Christ and his followers. Clearly, this affects Paul very deeply; yet, he endures this slander, owns the truth it contains, but turns it into a celebration of the grace of God which has transformed him into an ambassador of the crucified and risen Jesus. However great the shame of our past, it is no barrier to the grace of God and a life of service for Christ.
Do we have skeletons in the closet, or public failures, that we can turn into occasions for glorying in God?
Lord, thank You for erasing by Your blood my past life of sin and sealing my salvation by Your resurrection from the dead.