It is quite a remarkable fact that within about twenty years of a criminal’s ignominious death on the gibbet of the cross, a group of strictly monotheistic Jews were proclaiming that this same man mediated God’s final forgiveness, and stood at the threshold of the new age. In him they experienced God’s presence. This short work is an attempt to explore the implications of this discovery and to reflect on how we might suitably experience the person of Christ today. It is in doing his work in the world that we find him. Our encounter with Christ can be no private experience. It is an encounter mediated by the tradition of the community of Christians, which, in turn, drives us on to bear witness to Christ in the world by challenging anything which diminishes what it means to be truly human.
The earliest writings of what became the New Testament show how the first disciples gave words to their understanding of Jesus by turning to the Hebrew Scriptures as they prayed and worshipped together. Expressions like Lord and Christ (Messiah), and particularly the phrase Son of Man, are crucial to an understanding of the person of Christ, but it is the disciples’ experience of the resurrection of Christ which marked the coming alive of faith, and, gradually, around this experience they set accounts of the words and deeds of Christ expressed in the four Gospels.
About the Author
Fr Peter Phillips, a priest of the Shrewsbury Diocese, is at present working as a parish priest in north Cheshire. For many years he has been involved in a teaching ministry both in secondary schools and in higher education. He has worked with groups of teachers and clergy and been involved in adult education programmes in several dioceses across England. Currently, he holds an Honorary Research Fellowship in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University.