Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Reflections for the 1st Week of Easter, Part 2

Thursday – Peace Be with You

“Peace be with you.” At that particular moment, the disciples were feeling many things, but peace wasn't one of them. Jesus was standing before them. Even though the door was locked, even though He had died on the cross, even though He was supposed to be buried in a cold stone tomb, there He was, right there in the room with them.

Was He a ghost? Jesus was quick to assure them otherwise. They could see He still had a real body. He even showed them His wounds and then proceeded to eat a piece of baked fish.

“Why are you troubled?” He asked. “And why do questions arise in your hearts?” Then He opened their minds so they could understand everything that was written about Him in the Scriptures. It was quite an explosion of insight and meaning. Suddenly everything they ever knew about their faith made sense in new and amazing ways. Jesus ended by reminding them that He was the Messiah Who was sent to suffer and die for the forgiveness of sins, and now He had risen, just as He said He would.

Moreover, He had a mission for them. They were to be His witnesses, proclaiming the message of salvation to the very ends of the earth. For that they would need peace, a peace beyond all understanding, a peace that would carry them through the most difficult times, a peace that would create harmony both within them and among them, a peace that would make them whole.

Friday – Rejected Stone to Cornerstone

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” You builders, Peter told the Jewish leaders, have turned your backs on the Stone God gave you, the Stone upon Whom you should be building a deeper faith, a renewed hope, a stronger love, and a more meaningful life, the Stone that will stand firm throughout eternity.

This Stone has become the cornerstone, the foundation stone of a new Church that will spread throughout the whole world. This Stone marks a new covenant, a new family of God, a new unity between people of all nations, who will join together to form a new building of living stones. Only those united to this Stone will receive the gift of salvation.

But the builders, those who were supposed to be preparing the way for the Stone, didn't recognize Him. They didn't listen to His words or pay attention to the signs He performed. They had their own ideas about what their savior should be like, and this One just didn't fit the picture. So the Jewish leaders rejected Jesus. They turned their backs on the Stone God provided and sought one elsewhere. But they would never find another cornerstone. There is only the Risen One.

Saturday – Impossible Not to Speak

When Peter and John healed the crippled man, the Jewish leaders were shaken. They knew that these ordinary men had been companions of Jesus of Nazareth, but they didn't expect them to hang around after their leader had been crucified. But here they were, healing people who had no business being healed and speaking a message they had no business speaking.

The Jews would have preferred to get rid of them right off, but they couldn't. The people were too riled up by the healing and would rebel if their leaders did or said anything to downplay it. There was really only one thing to do. They would tell these simple fishermen to stop speaking in that Name, to just keep their mouths shut and mind their own business.

Much to the Jews' surprise, however, Peter and John politely but firmly declined. “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges,” they said. “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”

They would not stop talking about Jesus. They would not stop spreading the Gospel of salvation. They would not stop allowing the power of God to course through them and perform miracles. They would not stop carrying out the commission that Jesus had given them.

The Jews hardly knew how to respond to such open and honest defiance. They threatened Peter and John a bit more, but then they had to let them go. As they watched the two walk away, they had an uncomfortable sort of feeling that they had not seen the last of them.

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