This Easter season, we take time to explore the core foundations of the Christian faith. This series on The Apostles’ Creed explores the basic theological understandings of one of Christianity’s earliest statements of belief. The full set of sermons will be added each week to this page.
This week’s focus is the major portion of the creed, focusing on Jesus. Quite a few theological statements are claimed in this central section of the creed. Jesus is proclaimed as God’s son, born from a virgin, and then described as persecuted and executed before rising again. There can be little argument against a historical Jesus, with both religious and secular writings in the period during and after his life referencing both Jesus and the impact on the surrounding community. Archeological finds also show significant signs of cultural change because of the rise of Christianity.
But the importance of Jesus to those who claim Christianity goes far beyond physical and historical presence. This week we will explore what The Apostles’ Creed claims about Jesus and how these central claims form our faith.
Isaiah 43:1-7 (CEB)
1But now, says the Lord—
the one who created you, Jacob,
the one who formed you, Israel:
Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are mine.
2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
when through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you won’t be scorched
and flame won’t burn you.
3I am the Lord your God,
the holy one of Israel, your savior.
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your place.
4Because you are precious in my eyes,
you are honored, and I love you.
I give people in your place,
and nations in exchange for your life.
I am with you.
From the east I’ll bring your children;
from the west I’ll gather you.
6I’ll say to the north, “Give them back!”
and to the south, “Don’t detain them.”
Bring my sons from far away,
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7everyone who is called by my name
and whom I created for my glory,
whom I have formed and made.
John 1:1-14 (CEB)
1In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
2The Word was with God in the beginning.
3Everything came into being through the Word,
and without the Word
nothing came into being.
What came into being
4through the Word was life,
and the life was the light for all people.
5The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.
6A man named John was sent from God. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. 8He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light.
9The true light that shines on all people
was coming into the world.
10The light was in the world,
and the world came into being through the light,
but the world didn’t recognize the light.
11The light came to his own people,
and his own people didn’t welcome him.
12But those who did welcome him,
those who believed in his name,
he authorized to become God’s children,
13born not from blood
nor from human desire or passion,
but born from God.
14The Word became flesh
and made his home among us.
We have seen his glory,
glory like that of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.
Consider these questions:
- Who do you understand Jesus to be? Where do you get this understanding? Has this changed for you over time?
- What are your primary sources for information about Jesus? Within those sources, are there particular stories or passages that have greater impact than others? Are there any that trouble you?
- What are the particular characteristics of Jesus that you value? Are there characteristics of Jesus that trouble you?
Post-Worship Update on 5/13
Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).
In Sunday’s conversation about Jesus, part of our exploration centered on the historical Jesus. Ancient non-Biblical authors wrote accounts that talked about Jesus including Flavius Josephus (written around 93 and found here) as well as Tacitus (written around 109 and found here). A 2013 book by Dr. Bart Ehrman (University of North Carolina professor of Religious Studies; professional bio here) entitled Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth argues in much greater detail beyond these examples for the historical Jesus.
Ultimately, I gave my own short theology of Jesus that, 1) Jesus is the perfect incarnation of God’s perfect love; 2) Jesus spent the bulk of his time with those who were told God’s love wasn’t for them; 3) people in power couldn’t handle it and tried to kill God’s love; 4) and found out that God’s love can’t die.
Consider these questions:
- How has Jesus made a difference to you personally? Has Jesus changed you in some way? How? If you’ve been changed, how do you respond to this change?
- What more do you want to know about Jesus? What might help you to experience Jesus more fully?
- Above, I gave a very short theology of Jesus. What is your very short theology of Jesus? In other words, what would you say to someone in a 1-minute conversation if asked about Jesus?