An Idea Worth Considering

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An Idea Worth Considering

A Lenten Reflection      

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance (1 Corinthians 15:3)

       Take a moment and read the statement again slowly and discover for yourself what the Apostle Paul is saying. Paul is saying that he has an idea that he wants to share. He wants his readers to know that this idea does not originate with him. He says he received this idea from others. But it is an idea that he does not want to keep to himself. He says he is passing it on to those of us who are reading what he wrote. Why does Paul introduce this idea in this manner? He wants his readers to understand that this idea is important. If Paul was alive today, he might tell us that this idea is not just another data point among the 2.5 quintillion bits of data that humans generated every day in 2021 (

         Paul is saying that among the thousands of images we are exposed to each day, all of which are trying to advance an idea, the idea he is sharing with us is of first importance, it is a priority. He is saying pay attention to what I am saying. Why would he say this? It is correct to say that embedded in the thousands of images and the hundreds of thousand words we encounter every day there are ideas that are important and should be noted by us. The Apostle Paul would not argue against this point, yet he would insist that among all these ideas there are few that qualify as being of first importance. This idea that he received and which he wants us to be aware is at the top of the list of important ideas.

            What idea has Paul received and passed on that is of first importance. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 continues:

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

The idea that Paul received and passed along as having first importance is twofold. First, Christ died for our sins and second, he was buried and was raised on the third day. We understand that Paul is talking about the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus. These ideas are not three separate ideas; 1) Christ died; 2) Christ was buried; and 3) Christ was raised on the third day. They are one idea linked together by the qualifying phrase that these things happened according to the Scriptures. It is this phrase that moves the idea from an ordinary and maybe interesting idea to an idea of first importance. Consider the following with me.

      The idea that Jesus lived and died is not controversial. There are few people who would deny that there was a man by the name of Jesus who lived in the early part of the first century. There is no controversy about the fact that he died. The fact that Jesus lived in Palestine and died there is a historical idea and though some of us might find it interesting it would not be an idea of first importance. When you say Christ died and add that he died according to the Scriptures you create an idea of first importance. Why? Because it moves the idea out of the purely historical realm that all are comfortable with into the realm of a religious doctrine. People rarely make important decisions based on historical facts. However when we move the idea from mere history to saying it also part of a religious reality, now something significant is being said. The statement about Christ’s death is more significant that a statement about the death of a historical person. His death was more than giving up the ghost, taking his last breath, and succumbing to the ravages of nature. Jesus died but he died for our sins, and he did so according to the scriptures, and this elevates this statement or idea to being of first importance.

      It is of first importance because it has a noble dimension, and it does not merely happen at a particular time and in a particular place. The addition of the phrase according to the scriptures interjects a divine being and a divine source into the idea. It is of first importance because it involves an exceptional reason and an extraordinary supporting source. This catapults the discussion from the mundane to the incomparable.

       As you journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday consider what it means to you that Christ died, was buried, and rose again according to the Scriptures. How does the phrase according to the scriptures propel the information contained in Paul’s statement to a statement of first importance. Don’t just read these familiar words. Ponder them. Consider them. Decide what the implications are. If you do then you have started to prepare yourself for a great Easter celebration.