Peter, Jesus and the Apostles’ Creed

You know how it is when two familiar things are put next to each other and as a result you see both of them in a new light.

This happened to me on Sunday, when one of the readings was Peter’s sermon to Cornelius in Acts 10 which was swiftly followed by saying the Apostles’ Creed. Let me explain.

In Acts 10: 34-43, Peter sets out the story of Jesus. He starts with God empowering Jesus following his baptism by John, talks about Jesus’ miracles and good works. There is a brief mention of Jesus’ which is swiftly followed by a proclamation of his resurrection. In this brief passage, Peter is at some pains to underline the fact that there were witnesses to Jesus ministry and his resurrection.

The Apostles’ Creed describes Jesus life in this way:

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

The Creed stresses the virgin birth, which Peter hardly mentions, and then goes straight on to Jesus death and resurrection, with no mention of an intervening ministry (something I’ve commented on previously).

Obviously, Peter and the writer(s) of the Apostles’ Creed were writing to different audiences and seeking to achieve different aims and so chose to emphasise different aspects of Jesus’ life.

This then begs the question of what should could be left out and what must be included in a retelling of Jesus’ life for 21st Century Britain. Any thoughts?

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