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. (1Co 15:3-6 NIV)
The apostle Paul shared the good tidings and fundamental doctrine of Jesus death and resurrection. These basic facts and tenants of the Christian faith are proclaimed to bring his hearers to saving faith. That is why St. Paul writes that Christ died for our sins, for our redemption and eternal salvation. The holy apostles continues with the assurance that this was in accordance with the ancient scriptures of the Old Testament and very much in line and due to the good and enduring will of the Father, who revealed this over time exposing his gracious providence and care all along and how it all leads up to this hinge of history and the critical juncture for mankind. Finally this grand missionary reminds us of those numerous and decisive appearances of our Lord Jesus Christ as the risen savior and King of kings. The disciples were not limited to an once off appearance of Jesus before those women on Easter morning. No, they themselves saw him personally and on many occasions, when he appeared to them as their Lord and God. This apostolic privilege of seeing the Lord with their very own eyes was not limited to the apostles though. Jesus Christ appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once. This unanimous testimony of so many faithful witnesses excludes all speculation and illusion. It is true and thank God for that! This history is today proclaimed and professed by millions of Christians, who are saved by this very accurate and effective reality – having been brought out of the clutches of death to the brand new life in Christ by this saving gospel. One of these faithful witnesses, who is especially remarkable and trustworthy is the converted apostle St. Paul himself. He was a passionate, hateful and terrible enemy and persecutor of this very Jesus and his followers – until he was converted by the living Lord himself, who appeared to him and changed not only his mind, but his whole life, faith and theology. Having such an advocate promoting this faithful tradition and theology surely is convincing.
Lord Jesus Christ, you victorious and grand conqueror of death and all evil. You – the most magnificent vanquisher of the sinister devil. You are the Lord and giver of life. You overcame death for us, so that we may not die, but live eternally with you. You have triumphed over sin, death and devil. Let us rejoice in your glorious victory all the days of our life, so that we live in you and nobody and nothing pulls us from your gracious hands. And when your last day of judgment finally comes, then grant that it will be a joyous Easter celebration for us, where we rise up by your efficacious resurrection to the new life in peace and jubilation with you in heaven. Amen. (Old Torgau Hymnal)
The world against me rageth Its fury I disdain; Though bitter war it wageth Its work is all in vain. My heart from care is free, No trouble troubles me. Misfortune now is play And night is bright as day.
Now I will cling forever To Christ, my Savior true; My Lord will leave me never, Whate’er He passeth through. He rends Death’s iron chain, He breaks through sin and pain, He shatters hell’s dark thrall, I follow Him through all.
To halls of heavenly splendour With Him I penetrate; And trouble ne’er may hinder Nor make me hesitate. Let tempests rage at will, My Savior shields me still; He grants abiding peace And bids all tumult cease. (Paul Gerhard 1607- 1676 tr John Kelly 1833-1890)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Tuesday after the eleventh Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 294 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.