Now I should remind you brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you...through which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you.
For I handed on to you, as of first importance, what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time.
(from New Revised Standard version)
If you watch police dramas you will know that witnesses can be unreliable. What did they really see? Why is it that so many disagree about what they saw? Many years ago I introduced the idea of 'the witness' in a family service by having two people burst into the church through the main door. They both did something different, and then left. Afterwards I asked the congregation to tell me what had happened. Needless to say no-one got it right. The answers varied from "one person came in", to "three people came in", and a variety of different things were described as happening. No-one got it right. It was a little like playing Chinese whispers.
Our reading today is by St Paul. He is writing a letter to Christians in Corinth, probably some thirty years after the death of Jesus. It seems to be an early statement of faith, or creed. He is passing on what those early witnesses believed had happened on Good Friday and Easter. The remarkable thing is that the witnesses agree, and if we struggle with understanding what Jesus did for us, then this is a handy way to remember.
help us to remain strong in our belief that
Jesus died for us
so that we might be reconciled to you;
and that he was raised from the dead,
appearing to many of his disciples
in the weeks after his death.