Peter and the other disciples do not know what lies ahead.
The suffering and death of Jesus has tested them beyond
their strength. And yet, they live through it to testify to God’s
power to bring life out of death, love out of fear, courage and
strength out of grief and despair. This new realization of the
scope and power of God’s grace to save the people reconfigures
Peter’s entire life story. It gives him a living hope that burns
within him his entire life.
Just as Thomas would not believe without seeing, Peter
commends those who “have not seen him” yet “love him.” The
Resurrection brings new birth, inheritance, and salvation to
those who love Jesus. The new birth brings relationship within
the family of faith. And thus we have a living hope.
We witness God’s power at work in the resurrection of
Jesus Christ, a power that controls even death. Therein lies our
hope for eternal life—both now and beyond this life. Peter tells
us that this power is what makes all the difference in human
life. Despite the suffering we experience, we can “rejoice with
an indescribable and glorious joy.”
Genuine faith comes as an imperishable gift that, like gold
itself, cannot perish even when tested by fire. God will guard
the wavering faith of the disciples, just as God continues to
guard our hearts even when we waver in our faith. Our love for
Jesus Christ is kept secure, beyond anything that we ourselves
can do to secure it. Even though we have not seen the resurrected
Jesus, we nevertheless love him. God’s action of placing
faith in our hearts becomes a source of unutterable joy, for it is
beyond all of our own wavering doubts and self-questioning.
Gracious and almighty God, when trials grieve us, may we put our complete trust in you. Strengthen us to act on our love for Jesus even when we cannot see or comprehend your miraculous work among us. Amen.
Psalm 16 and Acts 2 fit together, since the latter quotes the former. Both celebrate God’s presence in human life and the powerful expression of that presence. In his Pentecost sermon Peter sees a messianic application of the psalm to the resurrection of Jesus. First Peter affirms that resurrection creates community, stressing the faith and love of Christians that arise without the experience of physical contact with Jesus. For later generations, belief and commitment are born out of the witness of others.
• Read Acts 2:14a, 22-32. When has a life experience made you, like Peter, feel that your faith was a sham? How did you move past that experience into renewed hope?
• Read Psalm 16. When have you perceived God as refuge? How has your faith in God steadied your life? What is your “goodly heritage”?
• Read 1 Peter 1:3-9. What act of power and grace on God’s part allows you to reconfigure or reinterpret your life story?
• Read John 20:19-31. When have you employed the power to release others from their sin? to leave them in their sin?
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