July 23, 2022
Subject: Evidence #10 for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ – ‘The Way’ and Sunday Worship
Acts 20:7 “On the first day of the week… the disciples came together to break bread.”
The Bible’s New Testament records the birth of Christianity in 32AD as the direct result of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Within 300 years of its birth in Jerusalem, Christianity dominated the Roman Empire and today dominates Western civilization, having its roots in Judaism but quickly creating a unique identify all its own, with the most distinguishing feature of the early church being replacing Saturday worship with Sunday worship.
How do we explain, right in the middle of a Jewish culture steeped in Saturday Sabbath worship, a group of Jews start a new movement that violates the Sabbath and institutes a new day of worship? The Resurrection.
Israel worshiped on the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, which runs from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown. The early church changed the day of their worship from the seventh to the first day of the week, Sunday, which they called “The Lord’s Day” (in Revelation 1:10): “On the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued until midnight.” (Acts 20:7). “On the first day of the week, let each of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper.” (1Corinthians 16:2). For the early church, and for us today, Sunday celebrates Jesus’s resurrection from the dead. Today, Christians go to church on Sunday primarily to celebrate the resurrection.
The New Testament records the name of the early movement of Christianity as “The Way” in the book of Acts: “Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the Lord’s disciples, went to the high priest and asked for letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of ‘The Way’, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:1-2). Why was the early church called ‘The Way’?
It began when Jesus Christ spent time alone with His 11 disciples for the Passover meal just before His death: “Where I go you know, and ‘the way’ you know.” (John 14:4). Thomas had a question: “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know ‘the way’?” (John 14:5). Jesus explained: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to God the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). How is Jesus ‘The Way’?
Many Old Testament believers spoke of ‘the way.’ David used this terminology often: “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in ‘His ways.’” (Psalm 128:1). “Search me, O God, and know my heart… lead me in ‘the way everlasting.’” (Psalm 139:23-24). David further explains ‘the way’ as ‘the righteous character of God: “Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness… make ‘Your way’ straight before my face.” (Psalm 5:8). “Teach me to do your will… Lead me in ‘the land of uprightness.’” (Psalm 143:10). ‘The Way’ is not following a set of rules. As Jesus said, it is following a Person – God: “Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me.” (Mark 8:34).
Going back to John chapter 14, Jesus was then hit with another question, this time from Philip: “Lord, show us God the Father, and it will be sufficient for us.” (John 14:8). Jesus gives them a clear answer: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9). Jesus told them that He is the Old Testament God whom David wanted to lead Him in ‘the way everlasting’ (eternal life). How could Jesus make such a claim?
He told everyone who wanted eternal life to study the Old Testament, because eternal life was all about Him: “You search the Scriptures, because you think in them you have eternal life, but these are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39). Does the Old Testament validate Jesus’s claim? Here is just one of many examples.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a Righteous Branch; He shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is the name by which He will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’” (Jeremiah 23:5-6). As David said in the Psalms, eternal life equates to having God’s righteous character. In Jeremiah, someone is coming who will be God’s righteousness on our behalf. Who is it?
Paul tells us: “He (the Father) made Him (the Son) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that WE might become the ‘righteousness of God’ IN HIM (the Son).” (2Corinthians 5:21). How did the early followers of ‘The Way’ get God’s righteous character? Through faith in Jesus Christ: “The righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe.” (Romans 3:21-22). Placing faith in Jesus alone for who He is.
What is the foundation of our faith? “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile – you are still in your sins!” (1Corinthians 15:17). The Christian Church, ‘The Way,’ celebrates the Resurrection as the foundation of Christianity every Sunday from 32AD to this day. Christianity’s Sunday worship testifies to the Resurrection!
Ed Croteau is a lay pastor and resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the LS Tribune, on Facebook and his website www.fse.life.