Bart Ehrman, a modern agnostic atheist who has spent years studying the historical Jesus from a position of non-Christian, concludes: “He [Jesus of Nazareth] certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees”, and also “the crucifixion of Jesus on the orders of Pontius Pilate is the most certain element about him”.
It’s how we understand what happened at the crucifixion and three days afterwards that defines our Christian faith.
Its also historical fact that within a few months of Jesus death, his small group of friends began the extraordinary claim that their leader has risen from the dead, that he was the son of God, the long-awaited messiah and that he rose again to save all people. The early church understood this event as a universe changing action of God’s grace and love. They began writing letters to newly forming churches trying to understand and explain how Jesus death and resurrection brings salvation to all. We can read about it today mostly in Paul’s letters, 1 Peter, Hebrews, Johns letters and throughout the four gospels.
If you have ever wondered what it actually means when we hear the words “Jesus died to save us from our sins” and why that’s important to us then these next few weeks are for you. The death and resurrection of Jesus is so momentous that New Testament writers use lots of images and layered words to help describe its meaning, often drawing from terms familiar to the people of the day. In the lead up to Easter this year at BCUC we will delve into some of these explanations. Words like salvation, righteousness, redemption, reconciliation and sacrifice. We hope that we will gain greater understanding of just how amazing the cross is for us and the world. Then by the time Easter comes we can’t help but praise God! So in preparation start by reading through Romans and look to see how many times these words (and their variants) appear. Let’s get ready to learn more deeply together.