URC Daily Devotion Wednesday, 10 January 2024

1 Corinthians 15: 12 – 28

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised;  and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.  We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised.  If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have died  in Christ have perished.  If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.  For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being;  for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.  But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.  Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection’, it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him.  When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.


Historian Tom Holland speculates on what might have happened on the day of Jesus’ reported resurrection. Dismissing a range of alternative theories Holland confessed that something mysterious and completely unexpected certainly convinced those early followers of Jesus.

We find that history is full of unexpected events that change world history – from the invention of the computer to the terror attacks of 9/11. Lebanese-American writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb borrowed the metaphor of the black swan to examine the impact of, and our response to, such occurrences*.  These events have three main features in common.  They:

1.    are “outlier” events – completely beyond the realm of normal expectation;
2.    have a profound impact completely altering the course of history;
3.    are rationalised as time moves on.

The story of Christ’s resurrection fits this hypothesis. 

1.    It was completely unexpected, taking what was an abstract and fringe Jewish belief, and reframing it as the central tenet of Christianity.
2.    The event – along with Pentecost – enabled Christianity to become the official religion of the then world superpower.
3.    Many try to find alternative explanations to rationalise the miraculous – including body snatching, metaphorical resurrection, and Jesus’ quiet retirement in Tibet!  Some theories are more outlandish than the claim of a physical resurrection itself.

So we find St Paul living in the tail-wind of this Black Swan event. If we listen closely to those words we will find that he did believe that Jesus rose from the dead.  Faith would be dead in the water without this belief. Resurrection re-frames Jesus as the supreme ruler of humanity.

While some Black Swan events have global implications others are much more personal, but equally world-changing.  A divorce, unemployment, a bereavement, or the birth of a new child – all can affect the trajectory of our lives.  Instead of trying to rationalise such events, the mystery of the resurrection invites us to consider that a deeper reality lies beyond our senses – the reality that Christ walks with us. We are not alone in this life.


Lord Jesus, 
we often find we want to label, catalogue, and order life rationally.
Instead, we often feel dazed and confused by it’s curve balls.

Lord Jesus, 
help us to live with the mysteries of life’s uncertainties.

May we come to the biggest mysteries of all,
Your resurrection,
and find You within this,
without attempting to explain it away.  Amen.

* Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, published by Penguin (2010).

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