1-2: “Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news…unless you have come to believe in vain.” – Paul reminds the people of Corinth that it was the good news of Jesus’ victory over the cross that brought them together as a community of faith in the first place.
3: “For I handed on to you as of first importance…that Christ died for our sins.” – A pathway to holiness.
4: “That He was buried.” – Death came upon Him and He was entombed into the land of the dead.
4b: “and that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.” – Following death, “the Servant will be exalted and lifted up.”(Isaiah 52:13)
5-7: “And that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve…” – He was made visible; He appeared to Peter, then to the disciples and then to over 500 individuals before revealing himself to Saul on the road to Damascus. He spoke with them, ate with them, and spent time discussing their futures.
8: “Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me.” – Paul felt unworthy of this distinction because of the persecution he had inflicted on the early followers of Christ. The risen Savior did not only appear to a group of His devout believers, He became visible to one who persecuted Him.
10: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me has not been in vain.” – Paul felt he had been unworthy to become one of the eye witnesses to the resurrection but, since he was, he had worked hard to share this witness to as many people as he could.
11: “Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.” – The Spirit of God had moved through the witnesses and out into the world where they had proclaimed what they had seen. From this witness, people came to believe.
Points to Contemplate:
Is it true that Jesus rose from the dead?
Is it too incredible of a story to actually have happened? Does everything else about Jesus’ life make sense with only His resurrection from the grave being difficult to accept? Are you suggesting that there are limits to God’s abilities? To many people, the victory over death, a distinction that only Jesus Christ claims, is the major stumbling block to their belief and commitment to Christ? Are you one of these people? Is it time to finally make a decision and accept the Risen Christ as your savior?
Do you need proof? Paul outlines a list of eye-witnesses to the resurrection, including himself, the persecutor of Jesus’ followers. Does this approach help give credence to the resurrection? If television were around in Paul’s time, could you see him on the evening news, interviewing the eye-witnesses, one after another, in order to illuminate the truth of this event? Do you depend on the witness of other people in order to strengthen your belief? Can your witness to the transforming love of Christ in your life become a powerful tool for others? Are you insuring that God’s Grace for you is not in vain?
What is the basis of your faith? The core of Paul’s faith is outlined in four parts: Christ died; He was buried; He was raised; and He appeared. What statement best describes why you are a Christian? What do these statements call you to do or to be? What new insights into the nature of Christ are revealed to you through these creeds or affirmations of faith? Do they help you grow as a disciple?
Who is Jesus? Are you struggling with this question? Are there certain aspects of His life that cause you to pause and think? As you learn more of His life, is your faith in Him strengthened? Or do you feel there are inconsistencies about Him that don’t add up? Epiphany is a time of the year set aside to review and reinforce who Jesus is and reestablish the foundation for our faith. Are movies such as Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” useful tools in this process? Promises of the Gospel:
Paul testifies of Jesus’ victory over death and the powers of darkness as a personal victory for each and every one of us. The fact that this victory is real and applies to our everyday lives has been witnessed to by millions of people for more than 20 centuries. The first eye-witnesses that Paul writes about provided testimony for the basic foundation of the early Christian church. Eye-witnesses to Jesus’ living spirit in their hearts have been testifying to the world ever since. He is alive! As we grow to know Him we discover that our lives are not being lived in vain because He came and lived among us, was crucified on a tree, and, three days later, rose from the dead to ascend into heaven.