We go deeper into our seven weeks of Easter by studying the following lessons: Acts 2:1-14a, 36-41; Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19; 1 Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35.
As we continue to contemplate the Easter miracle and blessing, we study Acts 2:4a, 36-41. This reading includes both the introduction to Peter’s Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:14a) and the sermon’s conclusion (Acts 2:36). It is the resurrection of Jesus that makes it both possible and necessary to proclaim that Jesus is no ordinary person who is a victim of a miscarriage of justice. “God hath made this same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ (Messiah).” The fact of the resurrection clarifies and affirms the identity of Jesus as the “source of our strength, the strength of our life and the center of our joy.” Being rightly connected and related to Christ is the most important issue of our lives. It is truly a matter of death and life.
Psalm 116 is vital because it describes an act of God and the human response to it. Those who believe in God must respond when God has acted on their behalf. The work that God has done to rescue us is a mysterious deed from heaven; our response, however, must be made on earth under human conditions. In addition to feeling good, the writer is determined to trust God with his or her entire future. If Christ be risen for us, we are challenged to be determined to maintain a long-term, actively engaged, humanly expressed, socially involved, politically responsible, economically appropriate loyalty to God’s way into the long future. Come what may from day to day, we will be faithful to God to the end.
In 1 Peter 1:17-23, the resurrection of Jesus moves to the fringes of society to create a complete new birth, which is a radical transformation of the whole self. The evidence of this change is the creation of a new community marked by obedience to God’s truth and practice of mutual love. There is no faith in God that does not compel absolute love to humankind. We are to become givers to all others of what we have freely received, not from people who may have abused us, but from God who blessed us.
In Luke 24:13-35, we read the story of Jesus’ travel with two disciples on their way to Emmaus. These disciples did not know who Jesus was until he revealed himself to them by interpreting the scriptures and by breaking bread with them. That’s the only way Jesus can be identified and made a living force in our lives: Bible and bread, truth and love, scripture and fellowship. The Church is made up of saved sinners who have been led beyond disbelief to faith by the amazingly gracious self-disclosure of God to them in the scriptures and at the table. We are empowered to live our lives unto God who continues to reveal God to us in the scriptures and in the loving fellowship of faithful people who love God sincerely and love each other unfailingly. Read and believe.
C. G. A.