For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, 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 at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.1 Corinthians 15: 3-8
For many of us, services on Palm Sunday this past weekend marked the beginning of Holy Week. I’ve heard that phrase spoken several times this weekend as I’m sure I have before, but it has caused me to consider it maybe more deeply this year than before as I’ve also considered this quote from Alistair Begg –
While it is critically important to recognize that the Scriptures foretold of Jesus’ sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection, I think the eyewitnesses to those events make the facts even more pertinent because of the outcome of those very lives.
The disciples of Christ were eyewitnesses. They were convinced of His resurrection to the point of dying for that truth. More than five hundred people saw the resurrected Christ in the flesh and that reality turned changed the direction of their lives. They were never the same.
Consider the life of Paul. As we have read from Philippians 3: 4-11, he was born into the right family, completed the right education, and was on the fast track in his chosen profession. But when he encountered the resurrected Christ on his way to Damascus, everything changed. He left everything and counted his status and accomplishments as nothing, in fact, he considered it less than nothing. If you asked Paul, I am confident he would say that his life before Christ was upside-down. Only after he met the Resurrected Christ was his life set right-side-up.
He chose to live a counter-cultural life and spent his days reaching others with the very real message of the living Savior. In the end, his devotion to that message cost him his life in Rome.
Outside of Paul, the Corinthians may have never met any of the other witnesses, but that doesn’t minimize the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection. Likewise, our faith is based on this objective fact of first importance although no original eyewitness is still alive. And that fact is what makes Christianity relevant regardless of today’s skeptics.