What is Christianity? Maybe a question you have asked or been asked and you perhaps have wondered what it really is? What do Christians believe? Christianity is a faith that began nearly 2000 years ago with the arrival of a man from Nazareth named Jesus. Jesus was a man who was a historical figure who formed a small group of disciples (12), who journeyed with him, listening to and seeing all he did and said. They would later go on to tell the whole world the story we are still telling. They came to believe that in and as the person of Jesus, God had come to meet the world and show us that His love would conquer all things, even death. The story of Jesus is that God has come to earth to bring us back to Himself. In the Gospel of Mark, which is our earliest account of the gospel (gospel just means good news), he tells us this story: Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ (which means God’s chosen).” And then Mark goes on to say: Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly.
The story then unfolds just as Jesus had told them and in the last week of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus is rejected by the crowd and is crucified by the then Roman governor Pontius Pilot. Mark recount the story: It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left… Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
However, after three days, the women who go to the tomb early on the Sunday morning, discovering the tomb empty and Jesus’ body missing and assume it has been stolen. John provides us with the most intimate account of what happened: But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb…she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
Jesus was seen many times after he rose from the dead and it was hard for them to believe. There is a famous story in John’s account when Thomas encounters the risen Christ: Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
However, one of the most famous stories, is in the gospel of Luke when Jesus walks with his disciples after he had risen from the dead: Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one
As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
Therefore, what Christianity really is, is to journey with God in Jesus along the road of life. To be a Christian, is to follow Jesus the Christ, the one in whom God has vindicated from the dead. Why don’t you let Jesus journey with you?
God who in Jesus calls us -
open hearts and minds to your invitation.
God of the pilgrim way -
be our companion day by day.
God of the still, small voice -
teach us to pray.
Grant that in our calling,
we may see your kingdom of truth and peace -
and delight to bring others to your love.
We make this prayer
through Jesus, the Lord