stand firm

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV

It is the first day of the week.

It is day #1.

We talk about time. The Greeks talk about “chronos” and “kairos.” These are words they used to talk about time. They may use others, but for our discussion these two are sufficient. Chronos is where we get words like chronology and chronological. Your time keeping piece or watch, if you have one, is all about chronos. Chronos has to do with sequential time or measurements of time. Kairos has more to do with qualitative elements of existence. In my mind, chronos is the length of time and kairos is the depth of time. Chronos is what I spend with my dentist (my apologies). Kairos is what I enjoy with my friends at dinner.

Today is day one of kairos existence. Just a few hours ago it was dark, but now light has broken through, life resurrected and hope explodes into our lives. He is alive. Resurrection is real. He is alive.

Let me just say what Paul says using my own words:

Considering all you know now about Christ’s resurrection and yours,

Understanding that his resurrection was real and seen by many eyewitnesses,

Knowing in truth how his resurrection

changed the lives of those who personally saw him,

Seeing the evidence of his resurrection in your own life

Then…Stand firm—in the face of whatever challenges you are facing or will face

Let nothing move you—your footing is secure,

Christ is your rock, your fortress, your strength

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord—

everything you do for the kingdom is even now being celebrated in heaven

and you are even now storing up rewards for the life to come.

Know, with certainty, your labor is not in vain.

You have been resurrected to new life.

Just as you died with Christ, you now live with Christ.

Amen.

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unnumbered day…

Saturday and silence.

Sabbath. Jesus is in the grave. Outside his tomb in nearby Jerusalem life goes on with the scheduled temple celebration. I imagine those leading worship have taken the necessary steps to remove any reminders of the prior day’s events. Things have been washed, even purged BUT not forgotten. Whispers on this day when they were shouting yesterday.

Peter and the other disciples, most likely hiding, certainly wonder what the next day will bring. I humor no thoughts that they might be mulling over his predictions of his resurrection. I would like to think I would have been the one to say, “Hold on, guys, didn’t he tell us this would happen?” But I too would have been silent.

By now they probably knew of Judas’ fate. Bad news travels fast even in Jerusalem, even without Facebook, CNN and FOX.

Sorrow, grief, shame, fear and worry are a few words that come to mind. They followed him for three years. They trusted him. They believed he was the Holy One from God. They all swore they would die with him. Peter had denied him. All had left him.

They all failed.

There are days when I think I understand completely what they must have felt on this silent, dark day. Every one of us has fought through a difficult night seeking the comfort and escape sleep might give, rising in the morning and still our day remains empty of hope. We failed him. We disappointed him. The weight of our guilt is more than we can bear. We read about His forgiveness and compassion, but somehow believe it doesn’t cover us.

The day was incredibly quiet.

The stone was in its place. He was hidden from us all. How could this be?

We measure time with the Christ event his coming in the world. Some argue (we enjoy doing that) it began with his conception. Others argue for his birth. Not to be argumentative, I propose another.

This day is the center of time. Saturday, while Jesus is in the tomb, let this day be unnumbered. When the sun set on this day, life was buried in a tomb, so how can we count this day?

This day is void. Let it be unnumbered.

I know there is argument (again, we like to argue) about this whole timing thing. In writing this, I used church tradition (without argument) which counts his burial as day one, the following day as day two, and his resurrection as day three. I am a westerner and an accountant. I measure days in 24-hour increments. I bill time in 6-minute increments. So, yes, I have some difficulty calling it three days, but I see the logic.

Day 1—he was buried.

Day 2—silence.

Day 3—not yet, not now.

You may count all the days leading up to this day, but Saturday, the day Jesus was in the grave, please let this day be unnumbered. It is a day of incredible darkness, void of hope and empty.  You might say, “Oh, yes, but he was preaching to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago!” At least that is what Peter shared in his letter (1 Peter 3:18-20), but Peter wasn’t writing that letter on this day.

On this day, I am with the disciples in a room that once had life and light, but now it is dark, empty and hopeless. This day should not be counted.

Today is silent. Life will break forth. Hope will rise. Resurrection is coming. Life might be in the grave, but it will not stay.

This day may be your life or situation. You may be living in this day. Your day is dark. It is silent. You can find no evidence of hope. Then you are in good company. The disciples, who were hiding on this dark and silent day, soon saw the light dawn. They turned this world upside down as hope burst forth in the new dawn.

This day may be long, but it will not last forever.

good friday?

“What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.” –Paul (1 Corinthians 15:36)

 “…it is better for you that one man should die for the people…”—Caiaphas (John 11:50)

“…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.”—Jesus (John 12:24)

We get this. For new life to occur, the old life must perish. It is spring. Plants are blooming. Seeds planted weeks ago are breaking forth from the earth. The plants we see are nothing like the seeds planted.  The seed is buried and now springs forth in life.

Resurrection is the same. New life comes out of the death of what was. This is not a reconstruction of what once was. We are not rolling back the clock and causing new life.

Jesus understood this. Resurrection could not occur without his death. The righteous for the unrighteous—his sacrifice paid the price of our redemption. This was the day the Passover lamb would be killed according to Jewish custom. The blood of the lamb spilt so that God’s people would be saved. So he went to his death, obedient even to the cross.

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.

 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

   If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.  1 Corinthians 15:35-49 NIV

We call today Good Friday. What irony unfolds as you read the story of this day. Good, religious people manipulate the system to cause the righteous one to be murdered. He is crucified. Is there any death that shows a lack of mercy and compassion more completely than crucifixion? Pilate, who is not known for his compassion, sees their jealous motives, and he who has condemned many declares him innocent.

Even so, he does nothing good. He allows the execution to proceed.

The crowds who days before sang, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes…” now cry out, “Crucify! Crucify! Crucify!”

Yet, we call this day good.

He was good. His death was necessary…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies. Resurrection could not occur without this action. As culpable as all the players were, their actions were unnecessary.

Judas, you did not need to betray him.

Caiaphas, you did not need to accuse him.

Pilate, you did not need to condemn him.

We call it good, because he willingly went. He lay down his life.

It is Good Friday, because he is good. Only God is good.

It is good because His actions taken on this day prepared the way for the next movement of God—resurrection.

Paul writes, “But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?’”

When I die, this body will be buried. Over time, no matter how well the embalmer does his job, my body will decay and eventually become dirt. As some crassly put it, my body will become food for the worms. One of those worms could then remove part of me, carry it along, and then a chicken could consume the worm and part of me. Then another could catch the chicken and have a tasty meal—the chicken, the worm and part of me.

Then, what? How can I be resurrected? I am like the Scarecrow in Oz, ‘there’s part of me over there and another part over there. Given these realities resurrection seems impossible. This dilemma created the debate within Corinth’s church, and this debate was dividing and distracting believers which derailed the mission.

Paul told them, “You are foolish!” They did not understand what they were talking about.

We have an old Hoosier cabinet. When I brought it home from the auction, Kelly was less than enthusiastic. After several years of procrastination and storage, I finally took it apart, repaired and replaced parts, and then reassembled the cabinet. Even so, the cabinet did not experience resurrection. It was restored. I reconstructed the cabinet. Certainly, I made it useful and perhaps even justified the original purchase price; but the cabinet was not resurrected.

Repaired? Yes. Resurrected? No.

Resurrection is transformation from what once was to what is now.  Jesus came out of the tomb not reconstructed.

I do not want to come out of the grave reconstructed, like something from Tim Burton’s imagination. Jesus was resurrected. Jesus was different. So different Mary thought he was a gardener. Two of his disciples walked with him, listening to him explain from scriptures why he had to suffer, but they did not recognize him.

His resurrected body still had the scars of his death, yet he was alive. His resurrected body could enter locked rooms but he was not just spirit. This body was unlike anything we have ever imagined or could understand.

This body, the one I possess, was created for this environment. It is perishable. It was not created to last forever. This body will cease to exist, but I will live.  Not as some disembodied ghostly presence, but with a resurrected body prepared for eternity.

Good Friday, indeed! This was a day that would bring transformation. Thank you, Jesus for your sacrifice!

if there is no resurrection…

We know Jesus and his disciples gathered to celebrate the Passover. Preparations had to be made before the meal that evening, but we do not know much of what else might have occurred on this day. Late, in the night when Jesus is arrested he told his accusers, “daily I was in the temple…” So it’s possible he was in the temple that day.

There is a miracle recorded here we often overlook (Mk 14:13-16). Jesus gave instructions to two of his disciples: Go in the city. You will meet a man carrying a jar of water. Follow him and tell the master of the house, “The teacher asks…” They found things just as he told them.

Obedience has its reward. They followed his instructions and  found things just as he had told them. They became part of the miracle.

Many times we have difficulty accepting things we have not experienced. Since we have not experienced resurrection, we have trouble grasping its truth. Thankfully, its reality is not dependent on our knowledge or understanding. The church at Corinth was struggling. In their attempt to reconcile this new faith with their culture doubts crept in. They were struggling with trust.

 29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,

   “Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”

 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame. 1 Corinthians 15:29-34 NIV

When the disciples obeyed, they were demonstrating their faith.

They trusted Jesus. They believed his words and followed his instructions. Some within the Corinthian church were reconstructing Paul’s teachings concerning baptism and resurrection. When he asked, “…what will those do who are baptized for the dead…,” Paul may have been quoting some of their confused thoughts. Some, even today, have taken this questioning of Paul as authority for a new teaching that has no other validity in scripture.

Believers are baptized. You must confess with your mouth and believe in your heart (Romans 10:9). Can a dead person do this? No. This is a choice we make. It is not made for us. Every person has free will. They choose. No matter how much I love God or someone who has died, I cannot change the reality of their choice.

Paul was continuing his cry that without the resurrection, there is no point in making any further efforts to proclaim the message. If there is no resurrection, why evangelize? Why should we suffer or make sacrifices in any way for the Kingdom, if it all ends when we die? If there is no resurrection, then why even practice baptism, why evangelize, why suffer—if there is no benefit to those being saved or those working?

If there is no resurrection, then how I live my life makes no difference.

When Jesus sent these two disciples ahead, they obeyed and found things just as Jesus had described. They followed his instructions and became part of the miracle.

They believed. They trusted Jesus because they knew him.

Later that night Jesus prayed, three times, “Father, let this cup pass.” He knew what obedience would cost him. He too would find things just as he had been told. He longed for some other way, but no other way would accomplish the Father’s will. So he trusted God and His act of obedience led to the miracle of resurrection.

What miracle awaits your obedience?

The sun will shine…soon

Today clouds and fog hang in the air adding to the silence outside.

What was it like in Jerusalem that week? On this day?

Jesus knew how this week would end. He told his disciples, but they just did not understand the full meaning of his words. The week of the festival must have swelled the population in Jerusalem. Distractions abound.

Mark’s gospel tells us Jesus on one occasion during this week was in the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany not far from Jerusalem. What an interesting name: Simon the Leper. We know little of this man. Mark gives us no other details. Perhaps Simon was once a leper and Jesus healed him. The touch of Christ restored his health and also his place in society. At one time he was unclean, avoided by all, and now he was restored in his own home, serving Christ.

We know Jesus and his disciples were his guests. Bethany and this home must have been a welcome respite from the now daily temple confrontations. Here Jesus was among friends.

Suddenly the room was filled with the fragrant aroma. We call it the anointing as we see such things in retrospect, through the cross, but those in the room knew something of great value had been wasted. The broken wax seal and the contents poured out. This gracious expression of gratitude misunderstood and condemned.

She could not have known what she was really doing. Jesus gives us the interpretation: She has done a beautiful thing to me…She poured perfume on my body to prepare for my burial (Mark 14:6-9).

The un-named woman might have been Mary, out of whom seven demons had been cast. But this is speculation. We know only that a righteous act was condemned. She took the flask of costly perfumed ointment, broke the wax seal and anointed the head of Christ. She wasted this precious commodity on one when it could have benefited many.

If Simon was in fact a leper healed by Jesus, he understood the depth of her gratitude. He may also have known more about this woman and why she was so moved to give such a sacrificial gift.

Time has forgotten Simon the Leper. His name only gives us the context for this woman’s sacrificial gift.

They could not see what Jesus could see.

Perhaps the weather was foggy, overcast just as it is today here where I sit.  The horizon disappears in the mist.

On this day, they could not see or understand this week would end in His death.

Silence. Darkness. They watched from a distance (Mark 15:40).

Death would lead to resurrection. His death would pierce the dark veil of death with Life and Light.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 NIV

One man sinned and all creation groans under the weight. What the first Adam had destroyed, the new Adam would restore. There within the garden Adam (and Eve) enjoyed the presence of God in ways we can only imagine. Evenings walking in the cool of the garden, intimate communion, incredible friendship, broken by sin.

Now, Adam (and Eve) felt emotions never felt. They were ashamed. They were naked and they hid. Death came by the first Adam. Life would come through Christ’s sacrifice. In the same way she poured out this precious ointment, His life would be emptied.

Death. Burial. Hope buried in a tomb.

The first day of the week following Passover initiated the First Fruit Festival according to the Jewish calendar. His resurrection came on a day set aside to celebrate the first of the new harvest. Jesus was raised on that day. He was the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. His coming on this day would usher in a new harvest.

The sun will shine…soon. The fog will lift. The mist will dissipate.

His precious gift, broken and spilled out, brings life.

Resurrection Hope

As they return to Jerusalem early this morning, the disciples see the now fully withered fig tree.  The day before as Jesus approached this same tree, it was filled with life, giving evidence of fruitfulness, but he found no fruit. He curses the fruit-less tree.

They arrived to find the temple bustling with activity, a business-as-usual-day, and Jesus drove out the buyers and sellers, the money changers and sellers of doves. By tradition we call this the cleansing of the temple, but could it be something more?

 12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. –1 Corinthians 15:12-19 NIV

Foundations matter. Without solid foundations, nothing lasts.

On Tuesday evening, Jesus was with his disciples as they left the temple. One of the disciples, impressed by the construction, said, “Teacher, look! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” (Mk 13:1)

Jesus responds, “Do you see all these great buildings? Not one stone will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down” (Mk 13:2).

What Jesus began in the cleansing would be completed by others. The temple of God was moving. It was once a tabernacle traveling with Israel signifying the presence of God in their midst. It was moving again.

The temple would be destroyed, but in three days it would rise.

Resurrection changes everything. If Jesus is the cornerstone, then the resurrection is the mortar.

His resurrection matters.

If Christ was raised, then we too will experience this resurrection. If Christ was raised then the message has power and so our faith is not in vain. Resurrection—His first and then ours—is an absolute. Without it, we are liars, still in our sins and our faith is futile.

Death seems final. Jesus must have thought about that. We forget he was fully God and fully human. He was hungry.  He wept. He grew tired. He understood the limits of this tent of flesh.   He knew he would die. He knew when, where and even the means of his execution.

The Corinthian church was aging and some of its members had fallen asleep (died). This whole question of resurrection was no longer theoretical. Resurrection—what did it really mean? They might have reasoned, “It can’t be physical, because ashes to ashes, dust to dust…”  attempting to fit their understanding of resurrection within their own framework.

When the Sadducees denied the resurrection, Jesus responded, you speak out of ignorance. You speak based on your own knowledge. You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God (Mk 11:24).

Christ’s resurrection assures our resurrection. His resurrection points to our own. If we do not rise, then Christ is not resurrected. You cannot have one without the other. He died. He was buried. He rose from the grave—body and soul.

One day, unless the Lord returns, I too will experience physical death. However, just as I live with hope, my death will come in hope of what His resurrection assures.  I will rise because He arose—ain’t no grave gonna hold me down!

During every nearly every funeral I’ve attended at some point the preacher will say something like this, “Because Christ was raised from the dead, we too shall be raised. This is the hope for all who call Christ Lord.”  Your life, your body has become the temple of God. The Holy Spirit entered into your body at the moment of your conversion. You carry about within you His Spirit. This is your hope. Paul tells us, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). Christ arose. So shall you.

Christ’s action on this day, so many years ago, reminds us the temple of God was built to travel, to move with God. The Body of Christ would reveal again this moving, missionary God seeking to redeem a people. His resurrection would empower this mighty movement of God giving us hope, not only in this life, but beyond.

My hope is built on nothing less…

Priority…of first importance.

Priority, according to Merriam-Webster’s, is “…a preferential rating; especially: one that allocates rights to goods and services usually in limited supply; or something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives.”

Every morning, okay, almost every morning, I list on a 3 by 5 card the priorities of my day. This way I can keep before me the most important things I want to accomplish on that day. After I make my list, one or two stick out as priorities for that day.

Somehow, I don’t think Jesus needed a 3 by 5 card to remind him of his priority.

Peter Drucker made some observations years ago about this word: priority. I have forgotten where, but he said that only recently, during the 20th century, do you find the plural use of this word. At one time, we spoke only of priority. We did not have priorities only a priority.

Imagine my list today looked something like this:

  1. Put the garbage out.
  2. Call for a doctor’s appointment.
  3. Meet with a client.
  4. Finish project with my son.
  5. Mow the yard.
  6. Love my wife.
  7. Be with God.
  8. Do what God wants me to do.

Now immediately, you would say this list needs re-prioritizing. The most important things are on the bottom.

Maybe Drucker’s observation speaks here. The last two have nothing to do with but everything to do with how I will accomplish all I do today. Those last two items are in a class all by themselves. Those two items are my priority. I am not sure what you call the other items, but Drucker and Jesus would tell me, “Ken, your priority is to love God today.”

Jesus told his disciples on the night of his betrayal, we love God by keeping his commands. His command is simply this: love others as I have loved you.

Jesus had a priority, love the Father. This meant everything the Father asked him to do, he would do. Nothing would be left undone. As we read the gospels, we know during this week he was in Jerusalem. Every night sleeping in the garden but during the day he was in the temple teaching the people. He was fulfilling his life’s purpose. He lived a life of priority.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.  –1 Corinthians 15:3-11 NIV

Paul reminds Corinthian believers, the message I gave you is most important. It is prior. This latest rendition of the truth you’ve been distracted by is not truth. Christ without the resurrection is powerless. His resurrection was real and in the flesh! Jesus, WORD OF GOD, in the flesh, came, lived, dead, buried in a tomb and now resurrected.

We too quickly read these words.

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,

Christ, the Son of God, died for my sins.

What other belief systems posits this idea?

It is unthinkable. God is God. Why would God be concerned for our outcome?

If God has a list, it is unthinkable that we are on the list. But we are. From the moment, we were hiding in the garden; God has been searching for us, seeking us out in our hiding places, as though we could hide from God. This missionary God, who came down to our home country, took up its culture and habits (but without sin). He learned our language to reach and relate to us. Then, in obedience, he took my sins to the cross.

He died. He was buried. He was abandoned to the grave and for the moment all was lost. There is so much here, but for another day.

He was raised. Resurrection means he came out of that grave, not just his Spirit. He was not the walking dead. He was alive: flesh and blood and spirit.

There is more.

There is something incredibly powerful about an eyewitness, someone who can point across a court room and say with authority, “There he is. He’s the guy.”

Peter saw him. Peter the rock, once a coward, had seen him. It was not some apparition of ghostly form.  Jesus, in the flesh, came eating, cooking, teaching (again) and restoring the faithless. Everything about Peter changed. No longer die he cower in fear of the religious power brokers in Jerusalem—you decide for yourselves whether it I right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard! (Acts 4:19-20).

Peter was an eyewitness. He saw the resurrected Christ and everything about him changed. He had courage and faith. He had seen the risen Christ and he never wavered from this even in his eventual execution for his testimony!

Would this man, who on the night of betrayal denied knowing Christ, now die for a lie? Peter saw him alive.

There is more. The Twelve gathered in fear with doors locked and suddenly, Jesus appeared among them.

His body was changed. He was no longer subject to the physical rules of this world. A locked door did not stop him. But he was more than just Spirit. Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have (Luke 24:39). See my hands. See my feet. Thomas, give me your finger. The twelve were eyewitnesses.

There is more. He appeared to more than 500 of his followers at one time. Eyewitnesses are hard to deny. Paul could not say these things without someone objecting. Paul was writing in the same era. Many of these believers who saw the risen Christ were still alive! Go ask them.

But that is not all. There is more. Paul continues. He appeared to me. He came to me as one who was born out of sequence. I was not at the cross. I did not learn from him in the temple, or the garden. I was not with Peter. I was not among the twelve or the 500. He came to me as one born out of order. He appeared to me even though I was fighting his Body—the church.

Do you still hesitate? Do you still hold back? Even after you hear the testimony of these witnesses? Has life hurt you so much that you cannot bring yourself to believe these eyewitnesses? There is a spark of hope within you that longs to believe. Fan into the flame the spark.

Paul knew he was what he was because of Christ working in him. God poured his favor in him and with result.

Oh, follower of Christ, He appeared to you! Perhaps, not in the flesh but he came to you. This Risen Christ is alive!

You too are an eyewitness. The Message—is it at work in you?

He died. He was buried. He is resurrected. This is the Message.

Believe. Do not waver any longer. Today, recommit your life to Christ fully, completely.

Christ, your priority!