This bible passage is the second half of a fascinating story that begins with verse one of this chapter. On their way to the temple to pray, Peter and John meet a man who was lame since birth. They heal him in the name of Jesus, and he walks. The people who were there in the courtyard all rushed up to Peter, John, and the healed man. Peter explains why and how this happened. In next week’s reading, they are called before the council and the high priest, just like Jesus was.
- Peter’s speech is similar to the one he gave in Jerusalem at Pentecost (Acts 2). It is an explanation of Jesus’ life, implication of the Israelites in his death, and a call for their repentance.
- Peter reminds them of their relationship with God by referencing Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their ancestors. (v. 13)
- He calls Jesus the “Holy and Righteous One” and the “Author of Life” in verses 14 & 15. Peter was challenging them to change their view of Jesus. He wasn’t a criminal who was crucified. He was the Righteous One. Even more than that, he was the Author of Life. And you killed him.
- Peter makes it clear that the man’s healing was not Peter and John’s doing, but that the power came from Jesus alone. (v. 16)
- Peter tells them that he understands that they acted out of ignorance. (v. 17)
- Then, he delivers the good news. It was all part of God’s plan. (v. 18)
- Now, they have forgiveness if they repent. (v. 19)
Only a few weeks before, Peter denied Jesus out of fear. Now, with the help of the Holy Spirit, fear is gone. We, too, have the Holy Spirit to give us courage and the words to proclaim the Good News to those around us.
1 JOHN 3:1-7
Today’s reading is a continuation of John’s sermon to his flock.
Once the God News spread, a wide range of beliefs began to appear. Their concept of the Trinity was not clearly defined, and opinions were all over the map. By the time of John’s writing, one group felt that divine knowledge, rather than faith, is what saved us. Ethics and morality did not matter; it was spiritual knowledge that saved. As with many of the heresies of the time, these were elements of truth that became twisted in their development. In the second half of our passage, John explains the folly of their ways.
- Verse one reminds us that we are God’s children. This is not only because we are His creation, but because we have been baptized into Christ.
- Verses 2 talks about a process that theologian call “eschatology”. I call it the “already, but not quite”. John says that our spiritual development is an ongoing process that will not be complete until Jesus is revealed at his return. We are works in progress. It is sort of like a mortgage. You put some money down, and you start making payments. If someone asks you if you own your home, you would answer yes, even though you only own it partially. It is not until the final payment that you fully own your home. We Christians are like this mortgage. We will not be complete until Jesus returns. In the meantime, we are works in progress.
- Along this journey, we strive to be pure and sinless, just like Jesus. (v. 3)
- The last paragraph makes it clear that sin is sin. Those who walk in the light of Jesus strive to be sinless. (v. 6)
- Righteousness (right actions or doing the right thing) is an integral part of being a Christian. It cannot be separated from living a spiritual life. (v. 7)
John instructs us to “purify ourselves”. Of course we fail in this attempt. But we press on, knowing that we have forgiveness. We continue to work at purity in our Christian walk.
Our spirituality, our belief in Jesus as our savior, must shine through in our daily actions. We are one person, and they cannot be separated. Being God’s children means that we are totally His. We cannot claim to be His in spirit without demonstrating this in our actions.
Any time two people witness an event, they will describe it differently. This is Luke’s version of last week’s gospel reading (John 20:19-31). I find it interesting to compare the two. Luke’s gospel has the “The Road to Emmaus” story (vv. 15-35) just prior to today’s reading.
Another offshoot belief about Jesus was that he was more heavenly, and not very much a real physical being. It seems weird now, but this was how come Christians perceived Jesus. Today, some of our denominations have a few strange beliefs and actions. Are we any different? But it is thought that Luke might be answering this strange belief in the telling of his story. More on that in a bit.
- The two disciples (one was Cleopas, the other is not named) have just returned from Emmaus, where Jesus revealed himself to them. They are telling the apostles what had happened, when suddenly Jesus appears. (v. 36b)
- They thought they had seen a ghost, and were terrified. (v. 37)
- Jesus calms them down, and encourages them to put aside their doubts. A reference to Thomas? (v. 38)
- He tells them he’s not a ghost, because he has flesh and bones. Touch me and understand. Could this be Luke’s answer to those Christians who thought his human form was only an apparition? (vv. 39-40)
- To drive the “it’s really me” point home, he asks for something to eat. Also, since he is truly human, he was probably hungry, right? (vv. 41-43)
- Now that they are convinced that it is truly he, Jesus teaches. As he did on the road to Emmaus, he explains how his life was a fulfillment of scripture. (vv. 44-45)
- Then, he gives them an assignment. They are to get out of these locked rooms and spread the word. (vv. 46-48)
Jesus’ resurrection is sometimes hard to fathom. It is a challenge to our common sense. I am thankful that we have these details from the gospel writers to confront our doubts with their experiences.
It must have been difficult for people to try to figure out the whole story of Jesus’ life and teachings, and how he fit into the whole spiritual scheme of things. Some theories got downright weird. I am thankful for the creeds. They clearly define Jesus and his relationship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
In Luke’s time, spreading the Good News was not easy. They could be hauled in, and have to appear to court. This is what happens to Paul and John after the story from Acts. They could also receive a lot of ridicule and social isolation in doing so. Things are not so different today. The social isolation and ridicule are more subtle, but they are definitely still present.
How can we effectively share this good news with those around us who need it? It is what the Lord expects of us.