What’s of First Importance?

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…” – 1 Corinthians 15:3

It is believed that Christians have been using the cross as the symbol of our faith since the days of the church father Tertullian in the second century. That’s when Christians started making the sign of the cross. Churches were also built in the shape of the cross and people began decorating their homes with the cross. As one of the most beloved hymns rightly declares, it is “an emblem of suffering and shame.”

In the history of the world, the cross of Jesus Christ has elicited incredibly strong responses all the way back to the earliest days. An archeologist discovered a painting from the second century of a man being crucified and on his body was the head of a donkey. This painting was meant to depict Jesus Christ as just another dead “donkey.” That’s how people have continually seen the sacrifice of our Savior. In addition to mockery, there has been a history of indifference. Gandhi, the great religious leader, who is having a very bad day, said, “His death on the cross was a great example to the world but that there was anything like a mysterious or miraculous virtue in it, my heart could not accept.”  

When it comes to the Word of God, we hear a lot about the cross of Jesus Christ and, just as you and I invest our life into those people and things that we find most precious, so much of God’s word is devoted to the cross of Jesus Christ. There are four Gospels in the New Testament that tell the story of the life, death and burial of the Lord Jesus. Of those, 1/3 of their content is dedicated to the final week of His life, leading up to His death, His murder, His execution, and His crucifixion. The fourth gospel, John, devotes half of its content to the final week of Jesus’ life. The first 33 years cover the first half of that Gospel. The last week leading up to the cross covers the remainder. 

One of the earliest things written in the Bible is about the cross of Jesus Christ. It’s in 1 Corinthians 15:3, “…Christ died for our sins…” In that section of Scripture, it is believed to be an early church creed or hymn that came from the earliest days of the Christian faith following immediately after the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In addition, it says that “it is of first importance” that Christ died for our sins. 

Our world has information doubling every single year. Not an increase in wisdom or truth, but an increase in information. What God says through the apostle Paul is that Christ dying for our sins is “of first importance.” What that means is there is nothing more important for you and me to know and to learn in the history of the world than the simple fact that Christ died for our sins. So, we’ll start with Christ and who He is. His first name, Jesus, is a derivative of the Old Testament name, Joshua. And it means, “God is salvation” or “God is my savior”. Christ is his title. It means “anointed one,” “chosen one,” or “Messiah.” He lived roughly 2,000 years ago. For the first 30-some years of His life, He lived in relative obscurity. We know little about His life. He had three short years of ministry, and the world has never been the same since. As we read of Jesus Christ in the Word of God, that is the foundation for what we would call the Christian religion and what makes our faith different from all other faiths. Other religions have a place as their headquarters; we have a head, who is a person. The center of our faith is not in a place, but it is in a person, Jesus Christ.

As we enter into the week of Easter, take some time to read John 17-21 and reflect on the last week of Jesus’ life. 

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