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, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:3-6
First Things First
“Where do I start?” “When I’m confused or depressed; when I need assurance, comfort, or simply need direction, where do I start?” Today’s lesson from God’s Word says, “of first importance,” consider that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised again on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Why is that first things first? It speaks directly to our greatest need and God’s gracious solution.
It’s been three weeks since Easter. Lent and Easter are not just seasonal customs of the Christian Church. The message of Jesus’ death and resurrection verifies God’s amazing love for sinners. That is always where you start. Yes, you are a sinner, but Jesus’ all-sufficient sacrifice confirms that God’s forgiving love is for you! Warmed by that truth, consider your various needs.
Notice that the apostle Paul twice writes, “according to the Scriptures.” That’s where you go next. The Bible not only foretold Jesus’ death and resurrection, it also makes you “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” With its truth and promises you are “thoroughly equipped” to deal with … whatever! (See 2 Timothy 3:15-16.) It follows that each of us benefits to the extent that we continue to read, learn, and remember the Bible’s blessed assurances, greatly helped by instruction received through: hearing sermons, attending Bible classes, and having home and private devotions.
Thirdly, Paul refers to the many eye-witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. Appreciate the encouragement from those who saw the risen Jesus with their own eyes! Likewise, talking with a mature fellow Christian, who has life experiences to share, helps you review Bible truths as seen with the eyes of faith.
Incidentally, some of the 500 eye-witnesses had “fallen asleep.” That always refers only to our body at the time of death. The souls of believers in Christ go immediately to heaven. (See Luke 23:43.) “First things first!” The resurrection of our body and the “new heaven” and “new earth” will follow on the Last Day. (See 2 Peter 3:13.) That’s ultimate assurance!
Day by day, Lord, help me keep “first things first!” Amen.