The existence of the Christian church nowadays and throughout the centuries is in itself extraordinary. Why did Jesus’ followers keep believing after the crucifixion?
Suppose the story of the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus, a Jew who lived about 2000 years ago in the Middle East, really happened. I think a lot of people can live with this. It feels like an old dramatic story such as the fatal love between Romeo and Juliet. You can continue to look shocked at the consequences of one’s conviction and one’s passion. Wouldn’t the story of Jesus also fall into this category?
But suppose the story of the resurrection, the resurrection of Jesus, really happened. Can you still live with it? Because it is quite a story, isn’t it? A fatal love, we have seen that before. We have seen people who tortured themselves to death or make themselves martyrs by serving as a living bomb. They did that based on their beliefs.
So, sacrificing yourself is exceptional, but the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is not the only sacrifice that occurred in history. But the resurrection … that is not often seen. Honestly: it was never seen before.
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FAITH IN THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
Now you must understand that faith in the resurrection of Jesus is crucial for the right of the Christian faith to exist:
“Faith in the resurrection is the absolute cornerstone of the arch of the Christian faith, and when it is removed, everything inevitably collapses.” ~ Quote from H.P. Liddon
In the first variant (only a fatal conviction or love that drove Jesus to death) the Christian faith turns into a conviction that sounds something like this: you have seen what Jesus did. Do your best and follow his example. But none of the Christians had this conviction. The conviction was different: He died and rose from the dead.
The death of a leader
You can believe in the living Jesus. Not because it is a melodramatic story, but simply because Christians of the first century did so, and they did not doubt that Jesus was alive. Alive one way or another, but he is alive and death didn’t defeat him.
Without the resurrection, the birth and existence of the church would not have been possible! There were many uprisings and rebel groups in Biblical times, but the movement always stopped by the death of the leader. Not so in the movement that Jesus started. They didn’t even find another leader. It was Jesus and it remained Jesus. He was the Lord, he was the center of the faith.
The whole world
Throughout the centuries the Christian faith spread all over the whole world. Already quite early on, the apostles moved into Africa, Asia, and Europe. And now the church can be found everywhere. The followers of Jesus don’t always look like each other. But there’s one thing that binds them together: the conviction that Jesus is Lord.
All these different colors
The Christian creed says that we believe in one church. This oneness you don’t find in the same church culture, the same sounds, and the same smells, not the same dresses, the same songs and the same language. But it is the faith in the one Jesus, the savior of the world, the source of hope. Here’s a collection of different kinds of Christian churches around the world.