The Easter story presents us with the same invitation it did for those first disciples: It invites us to believe the truth of the Resurrection, to trust with our heart what our mind cannot grasp. For who can understand such a claim as Christ's resurrection, which defies our comprehension?
Among the earliest “sermons” is Peter’s as recorded in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Note well that this Peter is the one who has denied knowing Jesus in the hours leading up to his crucifixion. This story seems to have a shaping power in his life, and it settles on a single point: It was “impossible for [Jesus] to be held in [death’s] power.” Then Peter cites one of the psalms that he had come to understand as speaking of God’s promise for Jesus: “I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope.”
The final claim is striking: “My flesh will live in hope.” This claim might seem to us a strange way of thinking until we find ourselves—or someone we know—facing severe suffering. In such a case, we struggle to “live in hope,” against the weight of pain. Peter reminds us that in such suffering the promise given in David’s psalm is meant for us as it was for Jesus whom God “freed from death.” With him, we face the pain of suffering and the shadow of death knowing, in faith, that it is as impossible for us—as it was for Jesus—to be held in its power.
Freeing God, give me the courage to believe that nothing in my life can separate me from your love in Christ Jesus, my Lord. Amen.
In the week following Easter, we reflect on the Resurrection. In Acts, Peter declares to his fellow Israelites that the story of Jesus is the fulfillment of promises made to their people long ago. He quotes Psalm 16, the second reading for the week, and applies it to Jesus. First Peter opens with a passage of extended praise for God’s mercy, and this is rooted in the hope that comes through the resurrection of Jesus. Yes, we may suffer in this life as Jesus suffered, but just as he is glorified, we will also one day be glorified in the Lord. John recounts a post-resurrection appearance to the disciples. All except Thomas have already seen Jesus, and here is Thomas’s first interaction with the risen Lord.
Read Acts 2:14a, 22-32. How do you practice living into the “ways of life”?
Read Psalm 16. What would change if you were to make requests for God’s protection a fundamental of your faith?
Read 1 Peter 1:3-9. How does the mystery of the Resurrection help you understand and love Jesus?
Read John 20:19-31. What role does forgiveness play in the way you practice resurrection?
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