After giving the evidence of Jesus’ various resurrection appearances, Paul makes a significant addition to the list of eyewitnesses: “And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (1 Corinthians 15:8). By “born out of due time” or untimely born, Paul means that he was born too late to be an apostle. But Jesus appeared in His resurrected form to Paul, not immediately after the resurrection but weeks later when Paul was on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). Jesus had already ascended into heaven, but He appeared to Paul, spoke to Paul, and called him as an apostle.
Paul never got over the fact that God had forgiven him. Paul had formerly been a blasphemer, a persecutor, a killer of Christians. I am sure the things he had done in the past haunted him. Yet Paul said, God forgave me. In fact, Paul said in I Timothy 1:15-16, “This is a faithful saying, worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am chief.” Paul was saying, I am Exhibit A of God’s ability to forgive.
Some people are under the impression that God could never forgive their terrible offenses. Paul reminds us that whatever our failures, we are not as bad of a sinner as he was. He saw himself as the chief of sinners. Yet God saved him by His grace as an example of His willingness to forgive anyone.
As you read these words, you may think you are beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness. But you are not. If God can forgive the apostle Paul, then He can forgive anyone. And that is why we keep coming back to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So let’s rejoice together because Jesus has made it possible to be FOREVER forgiven.