Reading: Isaiah 6, 52, Ephesians 1:19-20, John 20:1-17
Content: When the writers of the 1st and 2nd century Church talked about the power of God; their conversations were always about the resurrection. Even though thousands of Christians during that time period faced great persecution for their belief and public witness of that very resurrection. As the ones who had witnessed the Resurrected Jesus or ones were discipled by ones who had, there would never be anything as powerful as the verified knowledge that Jesus had indeed been raised from the dead by the manifest power of God. Most of them staked their very lives on that claim, and willingly died defending its veracity. They were martyred defending their faith in God, and the told and retold story of the resurrection of Jesus. All they had to do was admit that it was made up, or that it didn’t really happen - they could live. Fox’s Book of Martyr’s records that thousands of those men and women who were killed under those circumstances chose as their last 3 words… CHRIST IS RISEN!
You may be thinking, ‘why would they do that?’ The answer is deeper than the deepest ocean, yet no longer than a two-word answer – WE BELIEVE. It became the Credo of the 1st and 2nd century Church of Jesus. We now know it as the Apostles Creed, because the first Christian creed was constructed by the Apostles who were eyewitnesses to the Resurrected Messiah – Jesus Christ.
This first versions of the Creed varied but were consistently used in multiple settings for those early Christians – memorized and used passionately by those determined and defiant believers in the resurrection of Jesus. They used their creed when baptizing new converts to the faith, they used their creed to identify themselves to other believers when in hostile and dangerous environments, they used their creed when they preached the gospel of their Savior - Jesus Christ, and finally they used their Creed to publicly defend their faith - to face imprisonment and beatings - and they used their Creed in their last moments before being put to death.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN.
Listen to how Paul described this faith once delivered to the saints to the Christians in Ephesus, some years later.
…having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
The narrative from the dark side was simple. There absolutely was no resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The self-proclaimed king of the Jews was unceremoniously hung on a cross until death. Sentenced by decree of Rome, condemned as a Blasphemer of the Sanhedrin court, labeled an enemy and disgrace by his own people. A second narrative made its way around the region quickly as well. The disciples and sympathizers of Jesus stole his body from his tomb and made up the story of His resurrection.
I love the intellectual process of Cambridge scientist, Ian Walker as he made his decision to become a Christian. After all of his research and comparing ideas versus facts, He recalls his personal decision as finally being able to answer one question. If the disciples did steal the body of Jesus from the tomb, wouldn’t their whole lives thereafter be based on a lie? His final determination was that he could not believe that the disciples would have been willing to be tortured and put to death for something they would have known was not true. Ian Walker gave his heart and mind to the resurrected Jesus.
Meditation: Have you determined your personal credo of faith? Does it include your belief that Jesus was Resurrected from the dead? Where is your “threshold” regarding your faith versus the anti-Christ narrative that fills and spills from our universities, neo-political rhetoric, entertainment/news personalities and the social media platforms? Could you choose as your last 3 words – Christ is Risen?
Take a few moments this Resurrection Sunday to process those questions – build your faith on your answers and move forward knowing what we know with blessed assurance know.
Day 3 - Christ is Risen – Risen Indeed!
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