How does experience change suffering?
Death and resurrection -
The shameful death
What happened when Jesus Christ was crucified? His fellow nationals had handed him over to the Roman governor because what he had proclaimed to the people was, according to the common understanding, unbearable and blasphemous. After an unjust trial, he was sentenced to death by crucifixion by Pontius Pilate. The cruel torture by crucifixion, probably invented by the Persians, was the harshest death penalty of the Romans for slaves and rebels. The Jews only knew about the crucifixion when they subsequently hung someone who had been stoned for blasphemy on the cross. Part of the procedure of crucifixion among the Romans was that the condemned person carried the crossbar of the cross to the place of execution, he was stripped, whipped, humiliated and tortured. Tied or nailed to the crossbeam, it was pulled up the driven pile. Those executed often hung for days until they died in agony. Sometimes death was helped by breaking bones with bars.
“And such a death did your God die? What kind of God is that supposed to be? "The young Christian communities were confronted with these questions. Paul countered this:" The Jews demand signs, the Greeks seek wisdom. We, on the other hand, preach Christ as crucified: an outrageous offense for Jews, for Gentiles a folly, but for the called, Jews as well as Greeks, Christ, God's power and God's wisdom. " (1 Cor 1: 22-24)
The experience: He's alive!
In addition to the experience of the shameful death of Jesus on the cross, there was another experience: He who had died and was laid in the grave appears to his friends and disciples. He comes through closed doors and stands before them in person, speaks to them, eats with them. This experience changes everything. From this experience they see the life of Jesus and his death in a new light. They become aware: This Jesus is the Lord of their life, he is the Lord of life and death - and that is important for all people.
One of the Easter stories tells how two disciples go from Jerusalem to Emmaus (Luke 24: 12-35). The risen Jesus joins them and asks them why they are sad. Filled with the experiences of the crucifixion of Jesus, they describe the events and their disappointed hopes. They are so caught up in their suffering that they do not recognize Jesus. Jesus explains connections to them and breaks bread with them. Only now do their eyes open. They rush back to Jerusalem and exchange experiences with the other disciples: He is alive!
Just as the death of Jesus is historically proven (e.g. in Flavius Josephus), the resurrection cannot be proven. The empty tomb and the testimonies of the disciples are indications, but the resurrection is exclusively the subject of Christian faith.
The Christian faith is not first about how to understand death and how to live afterwards, but about the experiences with the man Jesus of Nazareth, who died on the cross and rose from the dead after three days. The historical event of the death of Jesus was seen by large crowds. The writings of the New Testament speak of experiences with the resurrected Jesus. The experience that Jesus lived was formulated by the first Christians in brief creeds. They shape formulas that are repeated in many places in the New Testament.
* At Pentecost Peter proclaims: “Israelites, hear these words: Jesus, the Nazora, whom God has authenticated before you through mighty deeds, miracles and signs that he did through him in your midst, as you yourself know - him, the was given according to God's will and foreknowledge, you were crucified and killed by the hand of the wicked. But God delivered him from the pains of death and raised him up; for it was impossible for him to be held fast by death. "(Acts 2.22 f.)
* In first letter to the Corinthians Paul writes: “For above all I delivered to you what I also received: Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and was buried. He was raised on the third day, according to the scriptures, and appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at the same time; most of them are still alive, some have fallen asleep "(1 Cor 15: 3-6)
* The letter to the Romans formulates briefly and concisely: "If you confess with your mouth: 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart: 'God raised him from the dead", you will be saved. " (Rom 10.9)
Christians put the death of Jesus and his resurrection into context. The bitter death of Jesus has a deep meaning: His love for human beings caused God to let his Son become human, so much human that he should not leave out even the last depths of human beings. His death was a gift of self (2 Thes 5,9 f. Rom 4,25; 1 Cor, 15,3; Gal 1,4). He wanted to free people from their sins and eternal death.
They testified to the death and resurrection of Jesus
In addition to the formulas of faith, which can be found especially in the writings of Paul, the resurrection reports of the Gospels were written in the first Christian communities. The four evangelists told of the Easter event in different ways, sometimes with deviations or even contradictions in terms of content. They did not want to draw an exact picture of the process, but rather testify: He really was risen - there are witnesses who saw and touched him after his resurrection, who spoke and ate with him, who received the commission from him, his death and proclaim his resurrection all over the world.
Death will always overshadow human life, but the Christian faith opens up a perspective beyond death. Stronger than suffering and death is the life that Christ promises through his resurrection. A consolation and a hope for all who trust in it.
Belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus changes people's view of their own life: What happened to Jesus will also happen to us. His death and resurrection are guarantees for our future. “We were buried with him through baptism to death; and as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too are to live as new people. For if we have become like him in his death, then we will also be united with him in his resurrection. "(Rom 6: 4 f.)
Life and faith do not go without a cross
The goal of the resurrection, "eternal life", is not to be had without the cross. Just as Jesus came to the resurrection through suffering and death, the cross does not remain for those who follow Jesus and want to be his disciples saved.
The first generations of Christians had to experience this painfully in the persecution of Christians. To this day, Christians in some parts of the world face persecution and death for the sake of their faith. Christians will always have to understand anew what Paul said for himself: “I was crucified with Christ; I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. But as far as I still live in this world, I live in faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me. "(Gal 2: 19-20)
For most Christians, faith is not going to pose a threat to their lives. That is why faith will have to prove itself in the small incidents and tasks of everyday life. Like Jesus and in his discipleship, you will support other people, especially the needy and poor.
Author (s): Hubertus Brantzen
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