Love and Resurrection ~ February 9
Christ’s resurrection is the cornerstone of Christian faith. In an increasingly secular age it is one of the most difficult things to believe. People do not come back from the dead. We don’t often hear about resurrections. We approach most everything scientifically and in our modern scientific world we don’t have room for resurrection. We don’t like to be fooled and someone coming back to life after clearly being dead is not something that hyper-modern folk allow themselves to be taken in by.
We often fail to consider that resurrection was not any easier to believe in the 1st century than it is in the 21st. Ancient people were more familiar with death than we are, closer to it. Those people who believed that Jesus had returned from the dead were not fools, just dying (no pun intended) to be taken in by a risen Messiah. These were smart, streetwise people.
What Paul gives us in I Corinthians 15:1-11 is a list of facts. Simple facts, not embellished. In almost Friday-like Dragnet fashion, He begins with:
Christ died. It is that simple. Paul is not speaking figuratively. This is a real death. This perhaps the easiest fact to assert.
He died for “our sins”. There is no embarrassment on this point. It is for the sake of humankind that Jesus has died and his death was necessary to deal with the plague of human sin.
From Paul’s perspective, this happened in the way that the Scriptures said it would.
Jesus was buried. More specifically, Jesus was placed in a cave-like tomb.
Three days afterward, whether it was three full 24-hour periods or whether it was parts of three different days matters little, Jesus came back to life. He was roused from the sleep of death, he was awakened, he was made alive once more.
And them, he appeared. That is, people saw him. Peter (Cephas), then the twelve apostles, then to 500 different people, including James, and all of the “apostles.”
Christians don’t proclaim the resurrection because it is easy to accept. We don’t believe something to be true just because it plausible. The truth of an event exists outside of its believability. So does the truth of the resurrection. Which leads to one final thought, Paul received this information. The resurrection is a tradition that is been handed down to us from those who first saw it. Our Christian faith is a faith of reception. We received baptism, we receive communion, we receive fellowship, we receive forgiveness, we receive the tradition of the church—through centuries handed down—only to proclaim it again.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed!
Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.