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Easter is coming, and I’m excited

When Paul wanted to rehearse some basic facts about the content of Christian belief in his first Corinthian letter (Chapter 15), he used the word “gospel.”

Most readers will know that the Greek word “evangellion” in the text means good news or good tidings, but you may not know the origins of the English word.

The older version of the word was “godspel,” good spel or spiel, meaning essentially the same thing: good news or good story.

And then readers will instantly remember the basics Paul laid out: the death of Christ, his burial and his resurrection, all of which, he says, occurred according to or corresponding with the scriptural promise of the same.

And I suppose Paul could have stopped there and said something like, “And that should put an end to all debate.” But there, at the end of 15:4, he said no such thing, and however we may be tempted to, we should not put a full stop in our reading and thinking.

For verse 5 begins with the conjunction “and,” meaning, “May I continue?” So he does.

“And that he was seen...

The phrase repeats in verse 6: “After that, he was seen...” by more than 500 people.

And again in verse 7: “After that, he was seen” by James (likely Jesus’ half-brother), and then by all the apostles. Finally, in verse 8, “And last of all he was seen of me also...”

It interests me that the named people who saw the resurrected Christ were skeptical of his claims and his resurrection.

Peter (Cephas) had a hard time with it. James, the half-brother of Jesus, did not believe Jesus was anything more than an ordinary man. And of course Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was busy rounding up believers for punishment when the Lord appeared to him.

I cannot speak to the 500 mentioned, but there were probably some skeptics in that group as well. It is as though Jesus was wanting to take on the hard cases first.

I am certain Peter would never have exchanged places with us, especially where being in the physical presence of Christ is concerned, but maybe he would have wished he had not been a hard case.

I can detect almost a note of envy when he declares that we latter day believers have a special relationship with Jesus, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” (I Peter 1:8)

May your Easter be full of joy unspeakable and full of glory as you contemplate the experience of a risen Christ, thanking God you are not a hard case.

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Greg Odell is a pastor with Faithwalk Bible Church of Alexandria.