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Friday, February 4, 2022
Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Corinthians 15:1–11
Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and 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 and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 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, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been 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. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe. (NRSV)
This passage is part of the Easter Sunday readings in the Revised Common Lectionary, because it is the most succinct summary both of the good news about Jesus’ resurrection and of what that good news means for us.
The message is laid out in a single (English) sentence: “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” It’s not Paul’s story but one he received; he’s not its author but its herald. Also, it’s not a novel story but one that accords with what believers in the scriptures could see before—grace and mercy, especially for those on the margins. Also, other people were part of it, and you know these people and the impact it had on them (one wonders if Paul didn’t know John’s account of Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalene).
The meaning for us is plain, too. We stand on this good news, and it is saving us. Our anthem is the power of God made perfect in human weakness before it is Self-Reliance. When the world shakes around us and the good and the right seem to flee before the cynical and the parochial, we stand on the announcement that God does God’s greatest work when the aggressors seem to be winning, and so standing we are saved. We are saved from despair. We are saved from frantic worry about how we’re going to fix it all. We are saved from Self-Reliance.
There’s a condition attached to this salvation in verse 2: “if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you.” I don’t take that as a threat of “losing” salvation for failing to have faith. I take it as self-evident that when we lose our grip on the good news of the gospel we can be sucked back into hopelessness and the search for security and meaning in fleeting emblems of status and identity. Still, though, God seeks us and brings us back.
Alleluia, alleluia to you, O Christ, our resurrected savior. Make us to cling tightly to your way of trust and generosity in the face of greed and fear, so that we might live the good news of your death-conquering life, together with all our neighbors. Amen.
Written by Rocky Supinger, Associate Pastor for Youth Ministry
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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