Wednesday, April 3, 2024

03Apr

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the 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.  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 Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 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. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 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. 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. Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (NIV)

I grew up as a son of a football coach. Later, as I was blessed with four sons, I became a soccer coach. One of the necessities of any coaching assignment is to teach your players the basics. Often, when teams are unsuccessful, they need to remember or apply the basics.

One of my favorite stories is of Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers. After losing the NFL championship the previous year, he decided that his team needed a return to basics. At summer training camp in 1961, first thing, he gathered the team together, held up a pigskin in his right hand and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” This got a chuckle from some players, but the practices were serious, and all revolved around getting back to the basics of every facet of the game: blocking, tackling, and, most importantly, winning. And they did. That same year, they beat the New York Giants 37-0 to win the NFL Championship.

Why am I telling this story? Simple. Paul reminds us of the basics of the Gospel, that which is “of first importance.” Pretty simple. It is all about the resurrection and lordship of Jesus. In a congregation of four thousand members with four thousand opinions or theologies, it is crucial to hold on to the basics that hold on to us. Jesus. It is all about Jesus. His life. His death. His resurrection. His Spirit growing us in grace,  understanding, and service to others.

In our text, Paul reminds us that Jesus “died for our sins according to the scriptures,” he was buried, and “he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures.” What’s more, Jesus appeared to hundreds of people following his resurrection. This is “of first importance.”

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the heart, soul, and center of our faith. We are united to Christ’s resurrection in our Baptism. We trust in Jesus by the Spirit's power, and, like Paul, our lives are changed and charged to live out the Gospel in grace-filled service to others. This is basic. Jesus. It is all about Jesus.

Questions for Reflection:

  • If someone were to ask you to explain the Gospel, could you?
  • What is basic, “of first importance,” in your understanding of Jesus?

Prayer

Lord, like St. Paul, we are “abnormally born” and don’t deserve to be called children of God. Yet, we are! Thank you for the amazing gift of faith and our place in your forever family. Help us be aware of the essential elements of our faith and trust in you above all things. Encourage and empower us to share you with others through our words and deeds. In the name of Jesus, Amen.

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Posted by Michael Chaffee

I am a lifelong learner with a deep desire for spiritual growth, education, and service. Married for 47 years with four grown sons, three fabulous daughters-in-law, five grandchildren, and one grand-dog. My wife, Michelle, and I joined Southwood about six years ago. We love the community of Southwood, the inspirational worship services, the courageous and compassionate leadership, the service to the greater Lincoln community, and international missions. I attend two men’s Bible studies and am a retired school counselor.

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