Monday, April 16, 2012

The Church Year and the Lectionary Commentary: The Third Sunday of Easter (1)

Acts 3:12-19

12 Seeing this, Peter addressed the people: “You Israelites, why are you amazed at this? Why are you staring at us as if we made him walk by our own power or piety? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of our ancestors—has glorified his servant Jesus. This is the one you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence, even though he had already decided to release him. 14 You rejected the holy and righteous one, and asked that a murderer be released to you instead. 15 You killed the author of life, the very one whom God raised from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 His name itself has made this man strong. That is, because of faith in Jesus’ name, God has strengthened this man whom you see and know. The faith that comes through Jesus gave him complete health right before your eyes.
17 “Brothers and sisters, I know you acted in ignorance. So did your rulers. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he foretold through all the prophets: that his Christ would suffer. 19 Change your hearts and lives! Turn back to God so that your sins may be wiped away.


We can see clearly the difference Jesus’ resurrection makes if we compare this story from the life of the early church with the account of Jesus’ transfiguration and its aftermath in the gospels.

In the latter case, after experiencing a powerful revelation of the true identity and authority of Jesus, John, James, and Peter accompany him down the mountain and into a hubbub. A man had brought his possessed child to Jesus to be healed. Jesus was not there, so the disciples tried to exorcize the demon.
They failed.

It is not until Jesus arrives that the situation is taken care of. Jesus exorcizes the demon and restores the child to his humanity, family, and community. The disciples ask him about their failure. Jesus has already called them “faithless” and, once in the house and in private, he explains the necessity of prayer for a ministry of exorcism.

Evidently, this juxtapostion of “faithless” and prayer suggests the difficulty: the power of God is required to deal with these enemies of God. That side of the resurrection, the disciples had not learned this truth and could nto handle the enemies of the kingdom.

This side of the resurrection, however, John and Peter have learned this lesson. They have, and know they have, no resources save Jesus alone.
“Seeing this, Peter addressed the people: “You Israelites, why are you amazed at this? Why are you staring at us as if we made him walk by our own power or piety?”

Pretty interesting juxtaposition, huh? And it’s still a live issue for us this side of the cross. In fact, it’s a lesson that must be learned and affirmed day in and day out. The same Peter who stands tall in faith here is the same one who will fall flat on his face in Galatia and betray the gospel by backing off from its truth in the face of Jewish Christian opposition to Jewish Christians eating together with Gentile Christians (Gal.2)!

Nevertheless, this difference is now the true reality in which we live, this side of the resurrection. Will we live out of this resurrection reality or will we continue in faithless and prayerless dependence on our own resources for living and serving God? This choice is a basic and stark as it gets.

Practice resurrection!

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