I am very much a fan of the original series of Star Trek. Looking back on it I have seen probably every episode at least five times and own all three seasons on DVD. The one thing though I always thought was funny was when the away team beams down to a planet and there is always the one guy you new was a guest star dressed in a red security shirt. You knew that guy wasn’t coming back and there was also a good chance if Dr. McCoy was along we would hear his famous line “He’s Dead Jim.” I can’t remember a single time this happened that a few of my friends if they were watching with me wouldn’t say “Leave it to Bones to say the obvious.” The truth is in the case of a ship’s doctor it is not a statement of the obvious but an official pronouncement. You have to have to be declared dead officially and the ship’s doctor does that on a ship.
Paul begins to lay out a case for the resurrection of Christ in chapter fifteen. His ultimate pronouncement is ‘He is NOT dead’ is also in many ways just as official even though it is the opposite of Dr. McCoy. The Corinthian church is in the middle of a debate and some have said the dead do not rise from the dead. Paul begins to lay out the case of why the resurrection of Christ is true and why it is essential and important to Christian Faith. He starts by gathering the witnesses.
Paul’s point in the first eleven verses is that the witnesses of the risen Christ were not few in number but many. Well over five hundred people saw Jesus alive after he had been crucified and buried. The faith and gospel we believe in is not founded on some feeling or blind leap but on a historical reality. Paul’s point is that if you don’t believe him, at the time, you could just go ask those who were alive what they saw. Paul is not resting his faith on his feelings but on eyewitness testimony. Now some might argue eyewitness testimony is flawed but most police will tell you where everyone agrees, that probably did happen. The one thing all the eyewitnesses agree on is that Jesus was crucified and buried and then they saw him afterward alive and well. The details may vary in some points but this central core fact remains – “He’s NOT Dead, Jim.”
The crossroads for the Christian is to understand that belief in the resurrection is not based on your feelings but it is in a historical reality. This makes the resurrection of Jesus a non-negotiable of Christian faith. You can’t be a Christian and not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul’s argument begins in this vein and it will end in it. The choice is yours to believe in the historicity of the resurrection or not, but to not do so absolute undercuts your faith.