The Assigned Texts:
- Acts 3:12-19
- I John 3:1-7
- Luke 24:36b-48
- Psalm 4
Today’s Gospel lesson comes after Luke’s resurrection day account of Jesus’ journey on the road to Emmaus. It is only found in Luke. Since this week’s text picks up at the end of this encounter as these disciples relate the event to the others and do not reference it in any way, some background might be needed to help listeners understand the context.
It might be interesting to contrast this account with John’s resurrection day interaction between Jesus and the disciples that was read last week. There are some interesting comparisons.
Jesus first speaks a word of peace. This has been a consistent theme lately, we saw this in John’s Gospel last week Easter’s first emotion is fear, so it is little wonder that Jesus first speaks a word of peace. Listen to all of the emotions discussed here: startled, joyful, terrified, freighted, disbelieving, wondering. How can we hear this word of peace in the emotions of our lives today?
The disciples’ first reaction is doubt. This should affirm the doubters in your congregation. We are all doubters seeking truth if we are willing to admit that to others. THIS IS OK!
Jesus seeks to teach again, but this time as the disciples listen, they have a much better grasp on just who Jesus is and what he means. He opens their minds to come to a deeper understanding of just who he is and what he wants them to do. He had told them all of this before, but now they understand more fully.
Jesus gives his disciples, then and now, something to do…” repentance and forgiveness are to be proclaimed to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem.” This is Luke’s great commission; can it be ours too? Can we start here in Bethlehem? To proclaim repentance and forgiveness is harder than it sounds – stay tuned.
This is a challenging passage to preach as it points to the difficult task of proclaiming both repentance and forgiveness as a piece of what our mission is to be about. Luke hinted at this in today’s Gospel lesson. Here Peter is defending the healing of the paralyzed man and using it as an opportunity to convince a skeptical audience of the validity of Jesus as the promised Messiah.
Peter begins by appealing to their common ties as children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are all blue-bloods here. But Peter then does not mince words. He asks for repentance (a changed mind and life orientation) from his listeners for their part in Jesus having been crucified…You rejected the holy and righteous one and handed him over for a murderer… You killed the author of life…You and your rulers were ignorant so that God’s will could have been done…Repent so that you can receive forgiveness.
Now you know why this is challenging preaching. Would you use this method of conflict resolution in your congregational setting?
I John 3:1-7
The writer here is trying to encourage members of the faith community to hold strong to the central core teachings of Jesus instead of being led astray by outsiders. This was certainly true in the early church, just as it is today. Here we affirm that we have a heavenly Father who loves us so very much that we should be known as children of God. We worship a God that has included us in the family and fellowship of God.
The writer then addresses the need to hold fast to this and not to be worried if your inclusion in this family excludes you from worldly approval. “They do not know us because they did not know him” (God).
Knowing that we will be like him is also meant to be an encouragement and a call to keep ourselves pure in this world. Then the writer draws a line of division between those who do accept this adoption and those who do not. Those who sin are lawless, those who don’t abide in God, sin, those who sin have not seen or known God. Easy to know who is in and who is out. Those who do what is right are living as the righteous God lives.
Being in God’s family means that our present lives are transformed. Our life orientation changes from self-centered concerns to kingdom-building priorities. These priorities are always outwardly focused on caring for others in their time of need. Is not this our mission?