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Easter Sunday - first things first

By Charlie Osewalt | 27 March 2016

Stained glass - Jesus resurrected

Question: 10,000 Jews believed 5 weeks after Jesus’ crucifixion. People who were cowards, who ran away, were now proclaiming and dying for their belief in an individual bodily resurrection. What happened?

Paul gives us the answer in his letter to the Corinthian church:

"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which 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 according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared toJames, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am." 1 Corinthians 15: 1-10

People allowed the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection to confront and reshape their understanding of the world—their conception of what was possible—that’s what happened. This would have required the overturning of their established beliefs. In the first century:

  • Gentiles/pagans believed that the soul was good; the body was corrupt. A bodily resurrection would not only have been inconceivable but intensely undesirable.
  • Jews believed in an individual and powerful messiah. The material world was good. Death was not liberation but tragic. They had a belief in a resurrection at the end of the world for all; not in the middle of history, while the rest of the world was in suffering and disease.

A bodily resurrection would have been hard to accept whatever your background. But the evidence was compelling and so they did. Jesus’ death and resurrection was of first importance and swept aside past beliefs. Ultimately, these first believers did not let their fear of death control their belief. They embraced the eternal promise of life with Jesus because they saw Him raised.

Ultimately, these first believers did not let their fear of death control their belief. They embraced the eternal promise of life with Jesus because they saw Him raised. First things first, see Him today by faith.

Posted by Charlie Osewalt

Charles Osewalt is a husband, father of four children and former elder at Redeemer Church NYC. He has worked in schools for the last twenty years as principal in the Morrisanna section of the Bronx. He formerly worked as a content and curriculum specialist for Stewardship. He tweets at @charlesosewalt

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