Christ Was Raised to Life
1My friends, I want you to remember the message I preached and that you believed and trusted. 2You will be saved by this message, if you hold firmly to it. But if you don't, your faith was all for nothing.
3 I told you the most important part of the message exactly as it was told to me. This part is:
Christ died for our sins,
as the Scriptures say.
4 He was buried,
and three days later
he was raised to life,
as the Scriptures say.
5 Christ appeared to Peter,
then to the twelve.
6After this, he appeared
to more than five hundred
Most of them are still alive,
but some have died.
7He also appeared to James,
then to all of the apostles.
8 Finally, he appeared to me, even though I am like someone who was born at the wrong time.
9 I am the least important of all the apostles. In fact, I caused so much trouble for God's church that I don't even deserve to be called an apostle. 10But God treated me with undeserved grace! He made me what I am, and his grace wasn't wasted. I worked much harder than any of the other apostles, although it was really God's grace at work and not me. 11But it doesn't matter if I preached or if they preached. All of you believed the message just the same.
Death often comes to us an unwelcome intruder, an enemy, and a destroyer. We are shocked by the violent murder of innocent people or the diagnosis of a terminal disease. We all grieve the loss of loved ones.
Death hung over a city like Corinth. Mortality rates were high (by modern standards) particularly for infants, children, and pregnant women. Contagious diseases were rampant without modern medicines. Average life expectancy was less than forty years.
Widespread belief in the immortality of the soul provided some consolation. As today, many people believed that the body might die but the soul lived on. The hope is vague and lacks assurance.
Paul, the missionary-pastor, proclaimed the robust hope of the gospel in the face of death. He writes to remind believers that the dead in Christ will be raised with new bodies that will not be subject to aging, disease, and accidents. Death will be swallowed up in victory. Paul rejects any idea of a timeless soul detached from a body. We need bodies to live fully and meaningfully in relationship to God and to other people.
The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of the Christian hope of new life after death. Paul cited six different individuals or groups to whom Jesus appeared as a person. There were living witnesses that could be consulted and interrogated. Paul confesses that the appearance of the Risen Lord to him was like the miraculous gift of life to a dead infant born after the usual time of pregnancy. He concludes by reminding his readers that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is proclaimed by all the apostles of the early church. We need to remember that the message of resurrection unites us with believers around the world.
God and Father, we praise you for raising the Lord Jesus Christ through the power of your Spirit. Console us in our sorrow and lead us to a living hope in eternal life in your presence. Amen.