Followers of The Cross are Saved
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received,
that Christ died for our sins…that He was buried,
that He was raised the third day in accordance to the scriptures."
1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Would Easter have any meaning if Jesus had not suffered death on the cross?
The apostle Paul discerned the relationship between the cross and the empty tomb. Writing to the members of the church at Corinth, who had difficulty believing in the resurrection of the body, he reminded them of the gospel he preached to them. That gospel was the message of God's gracious activity in Jesus Christ and has the power to save. It has this power, because it is the account of what God was doing through His Son when Jesus died upon the cross.
Paul said, "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins …"(1 Corinthians 15:3).
Christ did not die as a result of some disease, or accident, or miscarriage of justice. Jesus died because people are sinners and needed Him to do that. God had been dealing with the sins of people since the first day they first rejected the offer of His grace and love in paradise. God made consistent and repeated efforts to demonstrate His love. In that long salvation history God's faithfulness never wavered. In Jesus, God gave the clearest demonstration of desire to set aside our sin and to reconcile us to God.
For Paul it was important to say that Jesus had died "for our sins in accordance with the scriptures." This showed the climax of a millenium of tradition, action and ritual in which God had been dealing with the sins and unbelief of the people God had created and loved.
God's decisive action for working out our salvation is revealed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Paul emphasizes that He was "raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures." The resurrection of Jesus is the evidence that God's purpose was accomplished at the cross. The prophet Isaiah had said that God would "swallow up death forever" and would "remove the reproach of His people"
(Isaiah 25:8). That is what God did at the cross for us!
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the evidence that death no longer has power over us. In the Easter greeting of our Lord, "Peace be with you" (John 20:19), we find release from all that hounds us as judgement and buries us under the tombstone of guilt. That was God's plan. It was realized and completed when God raised Jesus as promised. The risen Christ is our surest sign that God is as good as His word.
Paul lists in this chapter of Corinthians all the people who saw the resurrected Jesus. When we talk about the followers of the cross, then and now, when we list all the beneficiaries of the risen Christ, when we include all the people who are known for having followed Christ through the cross and open tomb - at such times we should not neglect to add our own names. When we name the company of believers, we can say, "Last of all, He appeared also to me. Alleluia!"
In these pandemic days of the Covid-19 virus our God will not forget that we are His children, nor ignore our prayers for help, comfort and deliverance from our fear and very real worries as we are isolated from one another and experience aloneness and loneliness.
A Blessed Easter to All who follow the Risen Lord,
Christ has died, Christ has Risen! Alleluia!
~ Rev. Dr. Roger Ellis, Vacancy Pastor