GOSPEL READING: John 20:19-31
The church in Jerusalem in Acts 2. . . looks like few of our churches: people relinquished the privilege (or right) of private property and held all property in common. Koinonia, which we often translate as fellowship, literally means joint sharing, to commingle or merge. This is rendered in 1 Corinthians 10:16 in many translations as participation. . . [in the body of Christ]. We may choose to be partners in the glorified Lord, but what about the crucified Christ? We may choose eternal blessings, but are we willing to surrender earthly blessings?
The reading from John's gospel brings this theme of choice to a head. The disciples were bunkered up, waiting for the leaders who crucified Jesus to pursue them. Jesus breaks into their fear and offers them peace, not a temporary claim but an eternal shalom. Sensing their uncertainty, he offers evidence of his resurrection and in so doing offers validation of his authority to offer such peace. Jesus immediately follows by giving them the Holy Spirit and the authority to shepherd the church that attends it.
The confidence of Jesus' offer is again contrasted by the doubts of the disciples, this time voiced by Thomas, to which Jesus once again responds by offering evidence of his resurrection. . . .
Will we believe in light of the inconvenience, unpopularity and cost? Choices like these are watersheds in our lives, leading in very different directions. –– Todd E. Johnson
FIRST READING: Acts 2:14a, 22-32
Peter makes it clear that the death and resurrection of Jesus is the hinge upon which the human story turns. He summarizes essential elements of Christian proclamation: Jesus' ministry was by the power of God; Jesus was put to death by crucifixion; God raised Jesus from the dead. Peter asserts that these events were part of God's plan for salvation.
Peter then quotes again at length from scripture, reading a portion of Psalm 16 as though the psalmist's words were spoken by Jesus to express his confidence that God would rescue him from death. Peter explains that because the psalmist, King David, was a prophet, it was given to him to foresee Jesus' resurrection and to understand it properly as Jesus' exaltation and enthronement as Messiah. The language of the psalm expresses the central Easter message that God did not abandon Jesus in death. Peter identifies himself and the rest of the apostles as witnesses to God's power over death and God's faithfulness to Jesus. –– Aaron Couch
EPISTLE READING: 1 Peter 1:3-9
With exalted language, the author praises God for God's great work of salvation in Jesus and calls on believers to rejoice, even through times of trial, because of the power and goodness of God's gift. There is an already-but-not-yet tension within the passage. The inheritance God gives to believers is being kept for them in heaven, ready to be revealed in the last time. Yet it is also true that by faith, believers are receiving salvation in the present time. –– Aaron Couch
Aaron Couch is a co-pastor of First Immanuel Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon.
Todd E. Johnson is associate professor of worship, theology, and the arts at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California.
Homily Service 41, no. 2 (2007): 113-121.