The credentials of the risen Christ
the Spice Box
by Sharon Robertson, Lt. Colonel –
Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him (Acts 2:22-24 NIV).
“Accredited by God to you.” What greater credentials could one ask for than accreditation by God himself? And the evidence kept coming. Angels testified to his resurrection from death. Women and men spoke with him, and were convinced of the reality of his physical presence among them. And his very post-resurrection ministry bore the unmistakable imprint of his unique person and presence.
One of the most amazing things about the facts surrounding the resurrection of Jesus is how very subdued were his early post-resurrection appearances. Why was it more important to the risen Jesus to make his resurrection known to a few grieving friends and followers than to have it proclaimed through a miraculous appearance in the temple square – or perhaps, remembering the taunts of the tempter in the wilderness, an appearance from the highest point of the temple, proclaiming the defeat of the devil and his legions? How could even this Man resist such a triumphant epiphany immediately following his humiliation on the cross?
The answer, of course, lies in the fact that it was this Man, and no other. Jesus was not interested in vengeance. Why should he be? He had already dealt with those who were responsible for his crucifixion. While hanging in agony on the cross, had he not called upon his Father to forgive them?
No, freed from “the agony of death,” Jesus’ first concern was for those whom he loved—and who loved him—his disciples, the men and women who had remained faithful to him, though they could not understand what had happened. The men and women whose grief was intensified by their sense of abandonment. And his second concern was for you and me.
The risen Christ had an eternal agenda—the plan set forth by God from the beginning—and his post-resurrection ministry had all to do with the accomplishment of that plan.
Typically, Jesus’ first agendum was to reach out to individuals, to calm and reassure them, to help them grow in their faith, to move from uncertainty and despair to belief and power. He accomplished that task by working with individuals, moving among them, convincing them of the rightness of all that had happened.
Secondly, Jesus was concerned that the good news of salvation not be confined to a small ethnic group in Judea. He equipped his followers for ministry. He taught and loved them into maturing from confused spiritual adolescence to Spirit-filled Christian leaders. He took lovable, impetuous, run-off-at-the-mouth Peter, and tutored him to become a great rock of a saint, a man of God capable of preaching the great, compelling sermon (Acts 2:14-42) that was used of God to win some three thousand souls to commit themselves to become followers of Christ.
And finally, with the words, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NIV), he commissioned his followers to prepare the world for that glorious moment when “This same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11 NIV). Amen.