When I was five, I shared a room with my eleven year old sister. Looking back, I can only imagine that year was long and torturous for her. I was a typical, pesky little sister who wanted nothing more than to be all up in her business every moment of each day.
One day, in a crazy attempt to gain her attention, I dropped a dresser drawer on my toe. The aftermath of that silly antic was a toenail that turned black and eventually dropped off my foot. When that drawer landed on my foot I knew the consequences of that decision intimately. No one would ever have to convince me not to repeat that behavior. I believed with certainty that drawers were best kept where they belonged...safely fastened inside furniture.
This morning the passage I am reading is 1 Corinthians 15:1-28. In this section, Paul is reconfirming for the Corinthians exactly what the gospel is. Through the years, I have often heard someone pose the question, "Do you know what you believe?" I have answered that question, "yes" without hesitation but today I give it just a bit of pause.
Paul outlines four essentials of the Christian faith:
- Jesus died for our sins (Verse 3) - Jesus literally died in our place. He took the punishment that I and every other person deserved because none of us has lived a perfect life (Romans 3:23).
- He was buried (Verse 4) - Jesus' body was laid in a hillside grave. When someone passes away, it seems quite often that the family cannot completely face the reality of that death until they see their loved one's casket getting lowered into the ground. As I think of that moment when Jesus was sealed in a tomb, I see finality. His burial signifies the end of my "old self". God tossed all the parts of me that don't look like Jesus in the grave with Him.
- He was raised from the dead (Verse 4) - Jesus' tomb didn't remain occupied. Three days later, He came back to life. The empty grave is the single greatest symbol of hope there has ever been. Jesus' resurrection means that I am free to live a new life marked by joy and contentment. When God brought Jesus back out of that grave, He guaranteed each of us a fulfilling life that can start right now.
- He appeared to many witnesses (Verses 5 and 6) - This is the part of which I hadn't really taken the time to consider the significance. Previously, I hadn't let this soak into my heart as an essential piece of my faith. Yet as I pondered it, I realized how powerful it is that there wasn't just one witness proclaiming Jesus' resurrection; there was over five hundred. Jesus, fully alive and powerful to intervene in each of our lives.
Thank you, Jesus, for the certainty that surrounds the testimony of five hundred witnesses. You want me to believe without any doubt that You are alive and available to resurrect my life. Today I want to live out of the joy that comes from knowing Your vibrant life.