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The truth of Jesus' widely witnessed resurrection

April 1, 2024

Daily Scripture

1 Corinthians 15:1-8

1 Brothers and sisters, I want to call your attention to the good news that I preached to you, which you also received and in which you stand. 2 You are being saved through it if you hold on to the message I preached to you, unless somehow you believed it for nothing. 3 I passed on to you as most important what I also received: Christ died for our sins in line with the scriptures, 4 he was buried, and he rose on the third day in line with the scriptures. 5 He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve, 6 and then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at once—most of them are still alive to this day, though some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me, as if I were born at the wrong time.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Paul’s driving passion was to build up the church. His letters were one of his main ways of guiding the new churches he planted throughout the first century Greco-Roman world. Today’s passage led off the longest, climactic chapter of 1 Corinthians, and made two crucial points: 1) Jesus’ resurrection is Christianity’s defining characteristic, and 2) Jesus’ resurrection is a historical fact.

  • First-century people knew (without modern science) that dead people don’t come back to life. Paul didn’t just say he believed Jesus was a unique exception. He knew of 500+ eyewitnesses who said it happened (verses 5-7). It is history, not opinion, that the earliest Christians believed Jesus’ resurrection was real. Our choice is whether to share the unshakeable belief they were willing to die for. How does the first Christian eyewitnesses’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection shape your faith?
  • Scholar N.T. Wright said, “Paul wants to be clear that the resurrection is rock-bottom reality for the Christian. It isn’t a strange idea that he’s dreamed up himself… The only point in being a Christian at all is if this message continues to be the solid ground on which you stand.” * Jesus’ resurrection is a past event you believe as a Christian, but it’s also a present and future fact you can count on. What area(s) of your life need resurrection power today? Bring those to God in prayer. Count on the life-changing promise of Jesus’ resurrection.

Living Lord, you are just that—LIVING. Christ’s resurrection can be hard to wrap my head around, but it’s my ultimate source of hope. Help me trust the promise of your resurrection power today. Amen.

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Katy Nall

Katy Nall

Katy Nall serves as the Program Director of Missions for Resurrection West. She is a mom of two and loves to be outside in the sunshine, especially if it involves mountains or ocean. She loves hiking, reading, learning, and connecting.

What makes us so slow to trust the words and faith of those around us? As I was reading this passage, it occurred to me that even Paul did not believe in Jesus until he saw him for himself. All of the people Paul lists here were out there preaching the gospel, and yet, even Paul himself did not listen. The story that I think best illustrates this in the Bible is the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7. Stephen shared a long, passionate message with the Sanhedrin that ends with Stephen exclaiming, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” No one listened to him, instead they treated him as an enemy and stoned him to death. Paul, called Saul at the time, held the killer’s coats and supported the murder of Stephen. He too heard the testimony of amazing things about Jesus, and instead of seeing the truth he saw an enemy. 

Why do we do this as humans? What is it that makes us so distrusting of the testimony of others? There are countless stories of the goodness and love of God in the Bible, throughout history, and through the personal testimony of millions of people around the world. Yet, unless we see Jesus for ourselves, unless God answers our prayers, we refuse to believe it. A couple of things come to mind for me:

First, we cannot connect to God through the faith of others. Others can use their faith to lead us to the door, but each one of us has to open up our heart to let Jesus in. Stephen was right there in front of Paul speaking the truth, but he refused to listen. If the people around us believe and trust and live for God, that does not mean we do. God loves us all, God’s arms are always open, but to truly experience His love, presence, and healing in our lives, we have to choose to turn toward Him. We have to ask Him to open our eyes to see the work he is doing in us and through us. Our personal connection and relationship with him cannot be substituted through the experience of others.

Second, we need to listen more! There is so much to be learned from the experiences of others. God is moving through the world and in the lives of each person who has faith in Him. He is reaching out to connect with everyone around us. If we take the time to really listen to others and hear the experiences that they have had with God, it can deepen our faith and teach us more about God. In turn, we can also share the stories with others and help to increase the faith and connection in our whole community. I think this can be especially true of the people who are different from us–maybe they believe differently or take a different stand on things that matter to us. God speaks to all of us in many different ways, even through the people we view as enemies. I pray that we can listen to others and hear their stories of faith and God’s love. We should treasure the stories of others, not throw them away or mistrust them. 

Skepticism can sometimes help protect us. God even tells us to “discern the spirits” of what others say. Yet, I would challenge everyone (including myself) to be quicker to trust and listen. Whether you are the ones throwing the stones or just holding the coats, stop and listen instead. Each one of us is a thread in the beautiful tapestry of God’s story on earth that continues to show Jesus’ love for us and the power of his Resurrection each day of our lives. Every single person we meet has the ability to show us something about God that we have never seen before. I pray that we would all keep our eyes and ears open to experience it!

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Wright, N. T., Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 204). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.