Easter may have been celebrated somewhat differently again this year, but the message is unchanged – Resurrection is a reality and death is defeated!
The death and resurrection of Jesus was always at the heart of Paul’s preaching. When he arrived for the first time in Athens (Acts 17) he presented a very reasoned argument to philosophers for believing in Jesus. When he got to the point of mentioning resurrection however, their reaction was immediate. ‘When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, some laughed in contempt, but others said, “We want to hear more about this later.” ‘ (v 32) Opinions were divided then much as they would be today when we speak about life after death. The topic raises more questions than almost any other.
It is in this chapter 15 from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that he sets out to answer many of the ideas that people have about the meaning of death and resurrection. Read through it carefully this week.
v 3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.
There are many problems in the world which politicians, medical researchers and even industrial inventors work to resolve. From the ‘How to…’ of making great cornflakes, right through to finding the best vaccine for CoVid19, ingenious minds are struggling to find solutions that will solve human problems. But here is the most serious problem that the whole of humanity in every part of the world has to deal with – and it is the whole issue of sin, wrongdoing, that spoils human experience and separates us from our Creator God. Some people might put it this way – ‘I want to get on the right side of God’. Whether you look at ancient tribal religions, offering sacrifices to get God to give them a good harvest, or individuals prostrating themselves endlessly in front of a statue to get victory in the next battle, there lies the same question – ‘What on earth can be done to get God on our side and so ensure success in life’s ventures?’ Now, that is putting it very crudely and selfishly, but when faced with life’s problems that is the way minds work.
Sadly, that is both a selfish way to look at life, and it assumes that it lies within our power to think it through and achieve the result. As that is the way our minds tend to work, the Christian message is all the more remarkable. The real question is not ‘What can we do about the sin-problem? but rather ‘What has God done about the sin-problem? The answer is – God has already done everything necessary! When Jesus died, He stood in our place bearing the penalty of our sin, and broke the power that sin had over us. We have been reconciled to a holy and gracious God through the death of His own Son, Jesus. That is why Paul can refer to the message he preached as ‘Most important’. Accepting God’s solution to the problem and setting out to follow Jesus does not solve every other problem at the same time, but it restores the relationship between God and ourselves and puts us on God’s pathway to eternity.