Lent Day 40: 1 Corinthians 15

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Yesterday was Good Friday. Today, nothing. Nothing but a dead body in a tomb and a bunch of desolate, defeated followers. Hope is lost. Everything is lost.

Easter Saturday is a dark day for the early church (I guess, in part, because it’s not really born until Pentecost, after Jesus’ ascension). The disciples have seen Jesus die and all their hopes die with him. Their faith was in him, their dreams were in him. But that all disappeared on the cross.

And it would have stayed that way, too. If Jesus’ body was still lying, undiscovered and undisturbed  in a first century tomb in Jerusalem then hope would be dead too and there would be no church. The disciples would have scattered, nothing left to fight for or believe in, and the status quo would have  remained.

But one thing changed. One thing which, had it not happened, would have seen Jesus and his followers forgotten quicker than they came to prominence.

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 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. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-8 NIV)

Jesus rose again!

When he said that he would rise after three days, the disciples didn’t really know what be meant. Now they did, they saw him. Paul didn’t believe it had happened and persecuted the early church, but he, too, saw Jesus.

Jesus rose again!

He overcame death, as the Old Testament prophets had written. He overcame death so we wouldn’t have to. This isn’t wishful thinking or mindless acceptance. I agree with Paul when he says,

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19 NIV)

If Jesus hadn’t been raised from the dead then what is the point in following him. If he hadn’t been raised then he is simply a good teacher telling us common sense stuff about how to live and how to treat each other.

But, if Jesus hadn’t been raised from the dead, why were so many willing to say he had been? Why were so many willing to risk ridicule, violence, arrest, imprisonment and even death simply for saying that Jesus was alive. Power? Influence? Money? The apostles got none of those things. They received something so much more wonderful and eternal than any of those things,

“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.” (1 Corinthians 15:10 NIV)

The grace of God. The knowledge that, whatever they have done in the past, whatever horrendous acts they may have committed, God turns their worthlessness into something He treasures and loves. The knowledge that their sin is no longer what defines them, but something they are able to beat, with God’s help. The knowledge that death of the body is not the end, but eternal life in God is there for them and for anyone who believes in Jesus.

Jesus rose again!

I’m not skilled in apologetics or evangelism. I can’t get into long intellectual debates about the existence of God or the rationality of my beliefs. I’m not great at trying to steer others onto the same path. But I can tell you what I believe and why I believe it. That’s what I’ve tried to do over the last 40 posts as I’ve reflected on the Gospels over lent. I may not convince people, other believers may disagree with me, but I know one thing. One thing which unites Jesus’ followers. One thing which holds faith together. One thing which, despite the almost unbelievable, supernatural nature of it, I believe with all my heart and mind.

Jesus rose again!

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One thought on “Lent Day 40: 1 Corinthians 15

  1. I have enjoyed reading your postings over the last 40 days. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, enthusiasm and beliefs with us, I believe in Jesus Christ but as you know I do not attend church, I don’t think this makes me a bad Christian but maybe a lazy one, I try to follow what Jesus wants me to do but fall sadly short at times. You have written eloquently and with passion and I am proud that you are my son and a dedicated Christian. May you always have faith.

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