“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
In penning one of the greatest proofs found in all of scripture about the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul here dramatically lays the groundwork for the eyewitness testimonies he is about to present.
Paul goes on to say that if Jesus did not rise, his own preaching is empty—that is, that it has no content nor meaning—and that the faith of those to whom he is writing is also empty—that their faith has nothing on which it is based.
So, Paul actually asserts that the resurrection of Jesus is the crux around which all of Christianity stands or falls: if Jesus did not arise as recorded, then all of Christianity falls apart. If, however, Jesus did arise, everything else the scriptures record about Christianity has everlasting meaning for all of us.
We give God praise and glory today—with deep, undying gratitude—for the fact that Jesus did arise. In doing so, He made going to heaven an assured possibility for everyone who has ever lived or ever will live.
There They Crucified Him
“And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’ And they divided His garments and cast lots” (Luke 23:33-34).
Near the end of the Final Week in the life of Jesus, the greatest tragedy—and, at the same time, the greatest blessing—in the history of the world took place: it was the crucifixion of our Lord.
In spite of the injustices that had been levied against Him on every hand, He prays for His enemies, who, indeed, did not know what they were doing. In putting Jesus to death, they were playing into the hands of the Father who had in mind for this event to bring about the world’s greatest blessing.
In the shedding of His blood, and thus sacrificing His life on the cross, Jesus paid the ultimate price so that all mankind could have the possibility of going to Heaven. We should never allow our minds to be far from this profound, yet sobering, idea: He died so that God could forgive our sins and save us from everlasting punishment.
Do Not Entertain Temptation
“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38).
Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane with his three closest apostles when he gives them this sobering advice while they are sleeping. Peter has just vowed his undying love for the Lord, but already he has forgotten and fallen asleep.
“Watch” means “stay awake” or “look out”; and “pray,” of course, means they should be vigilant to keep God close in order to stay strong enough to overcome temptation.
“Temptation” itself is not wrong; but “entering in” to temptation means we have, at least, allowed ourselves to stay around it. Such an action puts us in a position to “give in,” at which point we commit the sin suggested. Like us, these three wanted to stay faithful to the Lord; Jesus knew that about them. But, again, like us, they were human; and their flesh might allow them to give in to sin at a weak moment.
So, the point of the teaching is to guard ourselves by being careful about where we go, whom we associate with, and what we allow to enter into our minds, thus potentially leading us away from the Lord.
The Whole Truth
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).
As He does in several other places in scripture, Jesus begins His admonition here with an expression that emphasizes the importance of what He has to say: thus, a serious student of the word must take heed.
Hearing Jesus’ word and believing in God qualify one for eternal life, provided the hearer understands the full teaching of these two points. To “hear” His word carries with it the necessity of “hearkening” to what He says.
To “believe” represents conditions that God requires before one can be saved and have the hope of eternal life in heaven. If that were not the case, this passage would conflict with many other New Testament passages—passages that teach that repentance, confession, and baptism are also conditions for salvation.
As we attempt to please God, we must rightly divide the word, always considering the teaching of all passages on a subject before we have the full truth of what God wants us to understand and implement in our lives—and that is the whole truth.
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