Jesus continues to share His glory

  • April 9, 2015

Third Sunday of Easter (Year B) April 19 (Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 2:1-5; Luke 24:35-48)

Human vision tends to be 20/20 in hindsight but close to legally blind when viewing the present. People often make the wrong decisions — even though they seemed correct at the time — and feel the sting of recrimination and regret only later. Peter accused the crowd before him of having a hand in the crucifixion of Jesus. Not only did they crucify the Author of Life, but also demanded that a murderer be handed over to them in place of Jesus — a rather awesome charge to bear. Peter brushed it all aside — after all, they acted in ignorance. With awareness comes the possibility of a new beginning. Not only that, the death of Jesus fulfilled prophecy so it was all part of the divine plan. Peter called on them to repent and have their sins wiped away, and as the story in Acts continues, we see that many did just that.

Many terrible things are done by human beings through collective ignorance, fear and emotion. In recent years, individuals, societies, nations and churches have engaged in a lot of soul-searching and repentance. It has not been pretty: racism, sexism, institutionalized abuse and violence, and systemic injustices too numerous to count. At the time, many people thought that they were doing and saying the right thing — after all, they repeated what they heard in the news, at work, in the classroom and from the pulpit.

But it was wrong, spectacularly wrong. For the most part, we have come to awareness and repentance, but there is still a lot to do. There are those who would like to take us back to that dark past. We should question our reactions to people and events, as well as our assumptions and the “conventional wisdom” that we have received. Just because something has been repeated many times or is shared by many does not mean that it is correct.

The author of 1 John hoped that those who follow Christ would not sin. But being a realist, he knew that they would. Fortunately, we have Jesus Christ as our advocate with God, and His sacrifice was on behalf of the entire world. John insisted that the only ones who actually know God are those who obey His commandments. In John’s community, there are but two commandments: to believe in Jesus as the one sent from God and to love one another. This may sound shallow and simplistic, but by “believe” and “love” John means a complete giving of one’s self. It also entails putting on the mind and heart of Christ and abiding in Him always, and being willing to lay down one’s life for others.

This is a good corrective for those who are always convinced that they are “right” with God and stand ready to make life miserable for those who are in any way different.

Jesus had a hard time convincing the apostles that He was truly alive. It was no easier to believe the Resurrection story then as now. After all, they had seen Him die, but here He was standing in their midst. He showed them His body and invited them to touch His hands and feet. After that, He sat down and ate in their presence. He was trying to convince them that He was not a ghost or phantasm. The same man they saw die on the cross now stood before them alive — although with important differences. Jesus did have a body; He did die on the cross; He now lives forever.

The resurrection of Jesus was not a metaphor or an interior psychological experience of His followers as some would have it. It was real, as real as the crucifixion, and no attempts to explain it away will rob it of its power. Jesus then had to explain the meaning of His suffering to them, just as He had to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Jesus was not a passive victim — everything had proceeded according to the divine plan that had been in place since the beginning of time. He had willingly taken upon Himself this mission for our redemption and the forgiveness of our sins.
Jesus continues to walk with us as we pass through this world of suffering like He did in order to share His glory.