Easter Thursday – I Corinthians 15:1-11

1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an 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 was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

We have no account of the resurrection moment of Jesus. I remember the Mel Gibson film of a few years ago tried to portray it. I thought it was cheesy at the time. What we have are the eye-witness accounts of those who met the risen Christ. As we will hear this coming Sunday, that was not always easy to believe in the first century and it remains sometimes difficult for us. Thomas was not doubting Thomas, not really. He was disbelieving Thomas. His friends told him that they had seen the risen Christ, and he did not believe them.

The same story, the same outlandish news has come to us. This Saul of Tarsus, now called Paul, who wrote these words in the letter to the Corinthians, was on a road to Damascus with angry, wicked intent. Jesus met him on that road. It was the appearance of the resurrected Christ that altered his path. He still went to Damascus, but now to be baptized and to preach this same Jesus whom he had once persecuted. Saul tells you today that he has met the risen Jesus. He says this is of the first importance.

Paul preached and you believed. There were a few generations between, but thanks to the letters of Paul, we still have his own witness in written words. The Christian movement hangs on this fact which Paul relates today: Christ has risen from the dead. If that is true, all other human knowledge is incomplete. If it is not true, we are kidding ourselves and should sleep in on Sunday mornings. But it is true. Jesus is risen from the dead. Paul has told me and you. He saw Him, spoke to Him, and was changed by that experience of the Living Word. Toward the end of this passage, he tells us something more. It is not Paul who is really at work in all this, but it is Jesus’ grace working in Paul. Have you heard and believed? You too have witnessed the living Christ. You too are a witness now of resurrection.

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