Now we turn to I Corinthians 15, where St. Paul writes, “I want to remind you of this Gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain” (v. 1-2).
Paul, who was then known as Saul, had heard about Jesus who was tried by Pontius Pilate, persecuted by the religious leaders, and finally sentenced to crucifixion at Calvary. Now Jesus’ followers were teaching that he had been raised from the dead. Many were being won as his believers, and little groups were organizing to learn more about him and become his witnesses. This small sect had to be stopped, and Saul wanted to have a big part in doing it.
So he went to the high priest and asked for letters allowing him to take any of those he found belonging to “the Way” as prisoners to Jerusalem. Permission was granted, and Saul set out. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what to do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord said to him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man named Saul. He is blind. In a dream he has seen you. Restore his sight.”
Ananias was hesitant because he had heard about Saul, but the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Ananias found Saul, talked to him about Jesus, and baptized him. Saul stayed in Damascus for a few days and began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. His message was so powerful that the Jews decided to kill him. But his friends managed to get him out of the city, and Saul returned to Jerusalem where he tried to join the disciples. (Taken from Acts 9:1-26.)
On the basis of this experience, Saul, whom we will now refer to as Paul, could say to the Corinthians, “Brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand” (1 Corinthians 15:1).
Paul emphasized that he had received this message. It was not something he had made up or learned from others. Christ appeared to Paul. And Paul gives the Corinthians and the world Ð including us Ð this Gospel.
In a report from one of our nation’s largest investment companies, an officer pointed his readers to the future when he said, “Our history is rooted in those basics from which we have not strayed.” He wanted those who had invested in stocks and bonds to know that their company, which had experienced great losses, still had a solid foundation, and on those principles they would build their business in the future, just as they had in the past.
I know little about this company, and my point is not to enter the financial world of which I also know little, but I like his statement: “Our history is rooted in those basics from which we have not strayed.”
Paul, in his commentary in I Corinthians gives the basics of our Christian faith. Listen to these glorious words: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures . . .” (vs. 3-4).
These are the basics that we who are Christians, as individuals and as a church, must pass on to our world. We are to carry the message of the resurrection to our families, communities, nation, and elected leadersÑto all people. We must pass it on.
Within the past year I attended a meeting of men who had invited a leader within the Muslim faith to speak about his beliefs. He was an educated gentleman who expressed his convictions well and was quite positive in what he believed. One had to respect him for this. He has this right in our nation.
After his presentation, each man in attendance asked him a question. The questions were not confrontational but dealt primarily with issues like the religious customs in their homes and what relationship Islam’s teachings had to the war in Iraq. When it was my turn I, too, tried to be kind and shared that there were parts of the Christian faith we had in common with them. However, I also wondered about a different, more important issue. This man has no Savior. I am a sinner, and I have a Savior who has died and been raised to pay the price for my sins. Through faith in Jesus, I have forgiveness for my sins. What about his savior?
The speaker said that in his religion there was another way to deal with sins that did not call for a Savior. A huge difference.
Leaving the meeting, a friend grabbed my hand and thanked me for my question to the speaker. He said, “I, too, need a Savior.”
Yes, we all need a Savior. In this perilous time, Jesus, the risen Lord, walks with us. We build our lives, our families, and Ð I would pray, though I am not sure it is true Ð our nation on the Risen Lord. He alone can heal our storms of life. He comes to us today, as he came to his disciples of old, and says, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).
In these quiet times with this Savior we find our strength and comfort. Only then does life still make some sense in a culture that has lost its way.
Yes, friend, it is another Easter Sunday, assuring us that Christ lives and wants to live in our lives.