A message for the 2nd Sunday in Easter from Rev Tom Nibbe
(ED: Easter lasts beyond just Easter Sunday so Sunday April 19th is the Second Sunday in Easter.)
God of Grace and Love, walk with us in this season of second chances and blessedness beyond our comprehension. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Grace and Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus!
We’ve all been missing the fellowship of worship on Sunday mornings. Perhaps, opportunities to write and share can serve to draw us together in great anticipation of being together again on a Sunday morning in the near future. We are missing the fellowship of those we meet through SpiritCare.
I like the collection of Bible verses assigned for each given Sunday because it gives focus to biblical insights which illuminate our understanding of Scripture. Let’s take a look at the Bible lessons for today… Acts2:14a, 22-32 (New Testament), 1 Peter 1:3-9 (The Epistle), Psalm 16 (Treasury of David) and John 20:19-31 (The Gospel).
It appears certain that young David in Psalm 16 really outdoes himself…after all…this was written over three thousand years before Jesus of Nazareth…verse 10 especially…His insight is beyond remarkable - “you will not abandon me to the grave…nor will you let your Holy One see decay".
David knows he will have an eternal inheritance himself. He also knows that Jesus, his descendent, though dead, dead, dead will not experience the decay of his human body, because Yahweh will raise him up. Just think about that for a while. Such amazing stuff. Normally we just read material like this and move on. The great Jewish thinker, Rabbi Abraham Jacob Heschel, wrote, to address our lack of the amazement over what is remarkable, ”King Solomon prayed to the Lord and asked for wisdom, but I, in this postmodern age, ask for the gift of wonder and amazement.”
Surprisingly, as we turn to the New Testament lesson, in Acts 2, verses 22-32 the Apostle Peter knows about and refers to that same 16th Psalm of David. It has stuck in his mind and refreshes the mindset of his hearers, many of whom have memorized all of the Hebrew Scriptures, especially David’s Psalms. I like the way Peter puts a great poetic touch to his powerful sermon - "but God raised Jesus from the dead…freeing Him from the agony of death” because it was “impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.”
Peter also makes it a point to impress upon the great crowd hearing him the relationship between Jesus Crucified and King David of old. You can’t help but love this stuff. Thirty-five years later the Apostle Peter will reflect on some of the same thoughts he had had shortly after the events of the Cross and the Resurrection of our Lord.
The occasion is one of two remaining letters we have from Peter’s hand recorded in 1 Peter 1:3-9. The course of his conversation in that letter reflects the change in time and life-style--in 64 AD--after the events of the Cross in 29 AD. Even now, we see the unchanging impact of the event of the Cross and the Resurrection…and how that now touches the lives of those who claim the name of Jesus as Lord and the power of the Cross and the Resurrection. Here’s what the Apostle proclaims - “He has given us new birth and a living hope”. It is an “inheritance” that can never perish, spoil, or fade. You and I as his readers are “shielded by God’s power through faith” in Jesus.
Refinement will be a Key Direction for Us
He writes this because the true church was being terribly persecuted. Peter’s letters have real relevance for us today. All too often, in today's church the Gospel is watered down and totally abandoned for more popular appeals that have nothing to do with God’s grace and love. Those who really love Jesus need to be “refined with fire”. Soft Christianity has rough edges. Refinement will be a key direction for us in the days, months, and years ahead. In recent times, all too often, many love the fellowship of the church – but I think – most of us still need to note Peter’s suggestion that our relationship with Christ still has a way to go.
The standard for the Apostle is a faith and love of Jesus Christ that is “of greater worth than gold” You and I have some way to go in our spiritual lives! Come on, now, admit it! And if we attain to this standard of faith in Christ Jesus, what is the reward? Should we expect a reward? I would say, Yes! Indeed, Yes!
Peter writes in verse 8 about "inexpressible and glorious joy” because we will be receiving the goal of faith. It’s really not about religion, it’s about a personal, responsible relationship with God.
How do we do this? Peter simply says, by “obeying the truth from the heart”. You know, if we’re willing, we can do this - we know the truth when we know the Bible - and accept it in our hearts - not holier-than-thou. Billy Graham used to say that the Christian walk is always two steps forward and one back, two steps forward and one back. It’s not about human perfection, it’s about a personal relationship with God in Christ Jesus, as the old hymn has it ”Just as I am without one plea…but that thy blood was shed for me.”
Peace & the Holy Spirit
A short word about the Gospel Lesson from John 20:19-22. I love this particular portion of the Gospels because it says so much to me about what our relationship with Jesus is all about “when the disciples were together with the doors locked because they were afraid of the Jews, Jesus came to them and said, “Peace be with you!” He showed them his hands and side, and the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, ”Receive the Holy Spirit”
Respond to the same invitation extended to His disciples. Allow the Holy Spirit to "breath upon you" and come alive in Christ Jesus. Come from the darkness into the light.
Blessings, Pastor Tom Nibbe