Next week Josiah and Amber Cain will be writing on having a missional perspective on life. And when I think of being missional, I think of the original disciples and Paul. I think about their relentless pursuit to spread and share the gospel at any cost and not backing down to anything or anybody. What gave them the boldness and confidence to speak and act in this manner? What ignited their fire of zeal for the name of Jesus that turned the first-century world upside down? Two words. The resurrection. This is the topic we will be looking at this week. The memory verse for this week is I Corinthians 15.58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord”. This verse is encouraging on its own but it has so much more power when Paul connects this to the reality of resurrection!
For the next seven days we will journey through one chapter of Paul – I Corinthians 15, also known as the resurrection chapter. I Corinthians 15 is about only one topic – resurrection. This week we will explore many different aspects about not just Jesus’ resurrection but about Paul’s perspective on resurrection theology as a whole. Today we will look at verses one through eleven:
1 Now I make know to you brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believe in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared to me also. 9 For I am least of the apostles, and not fit to be called as 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 did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Paul begins by talking about the gospel and he says that it is a message that saves us if we hold fast to it. To hold fast to something is to remain tightly secured to it. And in verse three through five, Paul makes known the contents of the gospel message that saves namely, that Christ died for our sins, he was buried, and then he rose on the third day. Paul says that this is something he himself received. On a side note, we normally think about Paul as being this intellectual and theological giant and while that’s true in one sense, in another sense just like you and me, Paul had a beginning to his walk with Jesus.
Had Jesus only made one appearance to one individual it would seem to be a little shaky, but this is not the case at all! Paul records that the risen Jesus appeared to Peter, the apostles, James, a group of five hundred people, and lastly to Paul himself. The power of the resurrection event was enough to turn a zealous and ardent persecutor of the church, Saul, into a equally zealous and ardent messenger of Jesus, Paul. If Jesus and the resurrection can change a man like Paul, how much more can it change people’s lives today? The resurrection is not just an event in the past nor just a future hope, as we’ll see later. Jesus and the resurrection has power to change lives today and right now. Paul knew this and it reflected in the life he lived. I ask you, do you live life in the reality of the resurrection?