- Where in the Bible does Jesus make a claim that he is a Christian and that Christianity is the right religion?
- Where in the Bible does Jesus say “I am God your Lord, you shall not worship but me only?
- Where in the Bible does Jesus command to go to church on Sundays?
To be a Christian means to live in relationship with Jesus Christ as one's ultimate guide to the mystery of God's love. Christians believe that Jesus is their most tangible witness to how God desires men and women to live their lives in cooperation with God's love. Jesus did not claim to be a Christian, rather he claimed to have come to “save the lost sheep of Israel” (Mt 15:24) and to “give life, life in abundance.” (John 10:1) In this way, Jesus neither claims to a Christian, nor did he claim to establish Christianity. Christians would say that Christianity is the response of men and women to the historical event of God's love made manifest in Jesus. Indeed, Christians, as followers of the Way, or Path, of Jesus were only actually called Christians later on after the death and resurrection of Jesus during the time of Paul and his friend Barnabas at Antioch. (Acts 11:26)
Jesus never actually says in Scripture that “I am God your Lord, you shall not worship but me only.” Rather, Jesus emptied himself in humility. (cf. Philippians 2:7) These words instead belong to the revelation of God found in the first of the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20:2-6) Jesus himself says to Satan during his temptation that “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.” (Luke 4:8)
Jesus never commanded Christians to worship on Sundays, rather this is something that arose in history. In the Biblical account of Creation, it says that “and God rested on the Seventh Day.” (Gen 2:2) This is the Jewish Sabbath, which is Saturday. Jesus himself worshipped as a Jew in the Synagogue on Saturday (Luke 4:16; Mark 1:21), and the very early Christian community after Jesus also worshipped in the Synagogue on Saturday (Acts 17:2) Yet Christians hold a special reverence for Sunday because on this day Jesus was raised from the Dead. (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1) For Christians this day also has important spiritual significance because Jesus was raised on the first day (Sunday), and so in a certain sense all days afterwards are sanctified. Indeed, Christians believe that everyday ought to be sanctified but they hold communal worship services especially on Sundays in order to commemorate the Resurrection of Jesus, and the new life inaugurated by God on this day. Jesus did however tell his disciples that when they gathered together, they ought to remember his death and resurrection through a communal meal. (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 12:22-24; Luke 22:14-23) This communal meal was the focal point of the early community's gathering (1 Corinthians 11: 23-26) and through time it took on a more symbolic or ritualistic shape and it is called the Eucharist. So, when Christians gather on Sundays, especially, through the Eucharist, they believe that they are imitating Jesus Christ and following his command. This helps Christians worship God as a community, and reminds them of what God expects of them as a community.
In what Christians refer to as the “Farewell Discourse” (John 14-17), Jesus warned his disciples that, “They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.” (John 16:2) This must be understood in the context that Jesus was a Jew and lived amongst a Jewish context. The message of Jesus arose in a Jewish context, and Jewish culture and religious practices provided the means for the message of Jesus to be proclaimed and understood. Jesus knew, however, that his message would eventually become troublesome and that his growing band of followers would suffer great persecution, so much so that they could no longer participate in normal Jewish practices. Much of the message of Jesus focused on how to live a spiritually-pure life as a Jew, and yet this was already evolving in his ministry. Indeed, though Jesus said that he had come for the lost sheep of Israel (Mt 15:24), he was already beginning to have encounters with people outside of the House of Israel. For example, Jesus is challenged by the non-Jewish Syrophoenican woman to heal her daughter. (Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:25-30) Also, Jesus reminded his Jewish audience that “there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Eli′sha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Na′aman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:27)
Jesus had called twelve men to be his apostles, which is to say that these men who would learn from him as his close inner group and who would in turn help promote the Way. (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:13-16) These apostles he would also later entrust with the responsibility of continuing his ministry, and to have the authority to make decisions for the furtherance of the ministry received from Jesus for the community of the early followers of the Way, and for the good of the world. (Luke 9:1-5; Matthew 16:19; 18:18) The twelve apostles became in time to need more and more men and women to collaborate with them in their ministry, and the organization that arose from this began to be known as ekklesia, or which in Greek translates for us as assembly which is the origin of the word ‘Church’. (Acts 14:23; 15)
Indeed, we see in the Acts of the Apostles that the early community of believers that began to meet together began to describe themselves in more universal terms, because of the inclusion of non-Jewish people. (Acts 21:25) This community was becoming more and more “Christian” in name (1 Corinthians 3:4), and began to understand itself in the light of the identity given to it by Jesus Christ. Hence, previous practices, such as going to synagogue on Saturday became more and more difficult, while at the same time there became more and more reasons arose to gather together as a distinct community on Sundays to celebrate Jesus Christ.
So, in a roundabout way, Jesus Christ never actually claimed to be a Christian, nor did he claim for himself exclusive worship and nor did command his followers to worship on a Sunday. Christians believe that God gave the Holy Spirit and reason, and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and through the use of reason, women and men as a community decided how they would best live their experience of being brought together by the life of Jesus Christ. This communal decision became the Christian Church.