Paul started his summation in our last reading. He addressed two foundational truths that the gospel rests on; Christ died for our sins, and He was raised again. Today’s reading focuses on this second crucial truth.
Jesus debated with the religious leaders many times over about the resurrection of the dead. He always stated it as a fact, not a theory. The Sadducees were dead set against this portion of His teaching. Maybe some of their “leaven” infected this group in Corinth. Where were the Sadducees putting their hope?
Without resurrection from the dead everything else is in vain. As a Christian we live our lives under constant watch, knowing that our choices in this life impact our future in the next. But if there is no next life they what are we saving ourselves for? That is Paul’s question to those who were claiming that there is no resurrection.
In yesterday’s reading Paul named the people who had seen Jesus after He rose again. There were around 500 people who personally witnessed Jesus living and breathing AFTER His encounter with the cross. These people were hard to convince too. They didn’t simply take one person’s account but needed to see it with their own eyes. Remember how, after the women reported their encounter, the disciples still didn’t believe? Even after the two who met Him on the road to Emmaus there was still skepticism. But when Jesus Himself appeared in the room those present FINALLY believed.
It was easier to get a conviction in court than to convince this group of people. From our vantage point in history one wonders why. We know that Jesus told them at least three times that He was going to be killed then raised again on the third day. We know that EVERYTHING He said to His followers happened exactly as He said it would. They saw Him walk on water. They ate the meals He served to the multitudes. They witnessed the storm STOP in its tracks. They personally witnessed Him raise several people from the dead, including Lazarus who had been dead for four days. Why was it so impossible to believe this?
Possibly because He wasn’t there to do the raising. Who would be the one to bring Him back? People didn’t just get back up out of their graves. And certainly not after a death so traumatizing as crucifixion was.
They believed Him to be the Messiah but they didn’t count on Him having this power; this connection to God. They put limits on their Savior that He didn’t have but He didn’t let their limits stop Him.
Jesus proved His claims to more than just His followers. He made certain to establish this fact firmly so no person, searching with an open mind, could dispute it. Yes, there are many who refuse to believe but I believe it is not because of the lack of evidence but because of the hardness of their hearts. The evidence is there. You have to choose who to believe. Darwin or God; which provides the most evidence? No missing links in God’s chain.
I would rather live believing in the resurrection and find out I was wrong than to live as if there isn’t and be proven wrong. I have lost nothing of any consequence through my conviction, whereas those who refuse to believe face eternity without hope.
Father God, thank You for knowing that we would need evidence. Thank You Lord Jesus for seeing so many people after Your resurrection. Thank You for not being angry with Thomas when he said he needed to see proof first. You invited him to place his fingers in the holes. Thank You for promising a special blessing to those who didn’t have the hands on proof but believed anyway. That’s me. I believe with all my being that You did exactly what You said You would do. I can always trust You to keep Your word. Because You returned from the dead I KNOW there is more than this life waiting for me. I’m looking forward to spending eternity with You on our special bench, asking all the questions that have bounced around in my head over the years. Thank You for saving a place for me.