Some of us have what is called the gift of the gab, well the apostle Paul, who wrote many New Testament letters, had the ability to speak with minute precision as we shall see. “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.” (1 Corinthians 15v3-5)
Paul notes in these brief verses four things, and they are very easy to spot: a death, a burial, a rising and an appearing. Now these four can be further reduced to just two elements that are more prominent and central. We can see that these are more central because Paul adds to them “according to the Scriptures”. So what are these two elements, well the death of Christ and his rising. The burial is confirmation of his death, the appearances are the confirmation of his resurrection.
Well so far so good, but can we mine down any deeper? Well I think we can. The resurrection, just like the burial and the appearing, is again, one more confirmation, it shows that the death of Christ was a success and not one desperately tragic failure.
We are left then with the death of Christ which stands alone and which is singled. It is the only one of the four historical events that is given explanation. Paul says that Christ died “for our sins” and that is what he says is primarily of “first importance”. Christ’s death is of first importance for me, perhaps you too will mine out this gem for yourself.