I believe in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord …
There’s nothing special or unique about believing in Jesus as a real person in history. Just knowing that Jesus existed won’t save you. Even the devil knows that. Even liberal scholar Bart Ehrman admits that – that Jesus really was a Jewish man that lived in 1st century Palestine. Even other religions will speak highly of Jesus – Muslims believe he was a great prophet – Mormons believe He was a son of God.
So it’s really not about whether we believe Jesus existed or not – but what we believe about Him. It’s less about believing in Jesus and more about believing Jesus. Knowing Him, trusting Him, and believing His Word – what He has said and what He has done for us.
That’s what Martin Luther is getting at in his explanation to the 2nd article of the Apostles Creed. Luther invites us to not only recite the creed – but to actually internalize God’s story and personalize Christ’s power as we do so.
What does this mean? I believe that JC, true God, begotten of the Father from all eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord.
Luther reminds us that its not enough to say, he believes in his lord or she believe in her lord or they believe in their lord. No, we need to say, I believe that Jesus is MY Lord. Jesus is so much more than just a good teacher, a fine rabbi from Galilee, a wonder worker or miracle maker. He is the Redeemer of the nations, the Lord of all creation, and more than that, He is my Savior, my Lord. Jesus is for me.
The Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ has come to live and die and rise again for me and for you. He comes to make dead things alive again – that’s what He loves to do. Everywhere Jesus goes, He is lifting people up and bringing them from death to life. Mary weeping at the tomb, Thomas doubting in the upper room, Peter downcast along the lake shore, the Emmaus disciples grieving that He was no more.
Jesus comes and changes everything. Through His death and resurrection He takes away our sin and gives us His forgiveness. He wipes away our tears and gives us His spirit of gladness and joy. He trades in our grave clothes for His royal robe of His righteousness.
And this is not just some doctrinal truth, a philosophical idea, or a religious concept. For all those people in the Gospels it was an intensely real personal experience. They experienced the power and peace of the Risen Christ. It was that way for the Apostle Paul, it was that way for St. Augustine, it was that way for Martin Luther, and it can be for us as well.
And it’s not just about salvation and redemption and going to heaven. That’s all great of course, but it’s also about comfort and peace and healing in this life. In the OT book of Malachi we hear that wonderful line – “for those you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in his wings.”
In the gospels Jesus says that His house shall be a place of prayer for the healing of the nations. Many people today find themselves lost and empty, hopeless and helpless – what they need is healing – both physically and spiritually.
In 1965 the Beatles came out with their fifth album Help. The title track is one we all know, but it’s more than just an upbeat rock n roll song. Just hearing the lyrics without the music can really change your idea about it..
Help, I need somebody, Help, not just anybody, Help, I need somebody, help. When I was younger, so much younger than today, I never needed any help in any way. But now those days are gone, I’m not so self assured, Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors.
Help me if you can, I’m feeling down, And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me get my feet back on the ground, Won’t you please, please help me, help me.
And now my life has changed in oh so many ways, My independence seems to vanish in the haze. But every now and then I feel so insecure, I know that I just need you like I’ve never done before.
Help me if you can, I’m feeling down, And I do appreciate you being round, help me get my feet back on the ground, Won’t you please, please help me.
John Lennon said later that song was the cry of his heart – and nobody came with an answer. At the time he was depressed and on drugs and in a troubled marriage – he literally needed help. Paul McCartney said recently in an interview – “Looking back on it, John was always looking for help. He had a paranoia that people died when he was around: His father left home when he was 3, the uncle he lived with died later, and then his mother died. I think John’s whole life was a cry for help.”
Even when no one else has an answer to life’s big questions, cares, and concerns, Jesus does. Jesus is the the answer – He says help is on the way.
As He began His ministry in Galillee there at the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus echoed the words of Isaiah when He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the captives free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Are you the one to come or should we look for another? “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind now see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is he who does not stumble on account of me.”
Even we as Christians can begin to worry and wonder about our faith if we don’t “feel” something in our hearts. When we look at our lives, sometimes it’s hard to see the evidence that proves that God loves and cares for us. So what should you do when you don’t see much progress in your life loving God and loving your neighbor? Where should you turn when you find yourself making the same mistakes, despite all your best efforts? Look to Jesus. Cling to Christ. Set your eyes upon the crucified and risen Lord Jesus for you.
He’s always there in His Word and Sacraments, in the precious Gospel that is outside of you. He is always there in the good news Gospel that never depends on how you feel or what you think. Your emotions and feelings will ebb and flow from one day to the next. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Looking inside ourselves we see our sins, doubts, fears, worries, and concerns. But when we confess that sin and guilt, we look outside of ourselves to the light of Christ, which dispels the darkness in our heart. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Luther wrote these words from a sermon in 1519 – “This is why you must cast yourself upon the grace of God, hear His sufficiently sure Word of forgiveness, accept it in free and joyful faith, and never doubt that you have been forgiven – not by your own merits or contrition but by His gracious and divine mercy, which promises, offers, and grants you full and free forgiveness of sins in order that in the face of all the assaults of sin, conscience, and the devil, you thus learn to glory and trust not in yourself or your own actions, but in the grace and mercy of your dear Father in heaven.”
So fix your eyes on Jesus. Focus on Him. Look to His cross and empty tomb – and His promise to return for you. “Nothing in my hands I bring, only to thy cross I cling.” You will always be disappointed if you choose to look inside yourself for comfort or security. You will always be let down if you put your hope and trust in yourself or in other human beings, no matter how close they are to you. You will always be disappointed if you put your hope and security in your job, your marriage, an organization, or an institution. Trust in Jesus. Put your faith and hope in Jesus. He always keeps his word.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2)
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God and true Man is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.
With His holy precious blood – the holy precious blood that was mingled with sweat as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, the holy precious blood that flowed from his striped back as he was whipped and beaten, and then poured out from his hands and his feet and his side as he hung there on the cross for us. And why did He do all this? Why did he undergo such suffering and torture and pain? Out of love for you and for me and for all.
That’s the secret of the Christian life. That’s how you can be a good news person in a bad news world. Because Jesus loves you. Because Jesus died and rose again and ascended into heaven for you. It’s all about Jesus. The One who gave Himself up for you. The One who died and rose again for you. The One who loves you with an eternal and everlasting love. The One who has purchased and won you from sin, death and the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.
Why? So that you may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity .. I hope that all this is true? No – this is most certainly true.
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is my Lord. And that, dear friends, makes all the difference.