I’m not much for creeds. The Churches of Christ have not traditionally given them much attention. Like I’ve said before, they seem to divide more than unify. They’re as liable to confuse as to clarify. One exception is the Apostle’s Creed. Even though it’s not without its problems, it gives a pretty basic and historical summary of what it means to be a Christian. Here are some excerpts:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the creator of heaven and earth.
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit…
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
Let me stop here. If this was all that could be said of Jesus—that he was crucified, died, and was buried, his life would hardly be noteworthy. Granted, there are the claims to divine birth and sonship of God. But neither of these things was without precedent. As we’ve talked about before, the rulers of Jesus’ day (Egyptian, Roman, Persian, etc.) commonly made claims of divine birth.
And his crucifixion certainly wasn’t unique. Crucifixion was a favorite method of execution for the Roman Empire. Largely reserved for slaves and citizens of other nations, it was a shameful death that reinforced Rome’s claims to power. Rome frequently made this very public statement in order to maintain control. At the end of the slave revolt led by Spartacus in 71 B.C., 6,000 surviving rebels were crucified along the road between Rome and Capua. So what sets Jesus apart? Let’s go back to the creed:
…On the third day, He rose again from the dead.
It’s the resurrection that sets Jesus apart. Of the many thousands of people crucified by the Romans, Jesus of Nazareth is the only one to have been raised from the dead. The gospels and the writings of Paul testify that he appeared to his followers—one time as many as 500 of them (1 Cor. 15). Many of those witnesses went to their executions testifying that “Jesus is risen.”
It is why we are here today. We are followers because both facts are true. Jesus died and was raised by God. The resurrection makes a universe of difference. The question for us this morning is what does the resurrection mean to us right now? How is our day to day life different because of it? I hope it gives you hope and teaches you how to live. Happy Easter. Christ is risen.