Acts 2:14a, 22-32, Psalm 16, 1 Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31
Acts 2:14a, 22-32:
- This text gives Peter's speech to the crowds on the Day of Pentecost.
- "the definite plan and foreknowledge of God." I like Peter's word, here, "foreknowledge." To me, it says that God can know what's going on, and still not make our choices for us. I'm not sure that's what Peter meant. But that's how I think of things, sometimes. I believe that God has a purpose for me, but I can't believe God won't let me make choices, otherwise my life has very little meaning.
- Peter is interested in showing Jesus as in the line of David, carrying on the Davidic throne. Perhaps he felt this would be a good way to appeal to his audience, something that would make them believe in the power of this 'Jesus.'
- "I have no good apart from you." No good apart from God. We might think we can have what is good outside God, but without God, what we have will lack in meaning, be found wanting, empty.
- body and soul - this psalmist knows that both belong to God and are in God's hands.
- "fullness of joy." Again, God can satisfy us, fill us, in a way other things can't.
- "inheritance." This is a funny word - when we think of inheriting, we can think of money left to us by relatives, or perhaps genes or traits that we get from our parents, grandparents. 1 Peter says that we inherit from Christ hope of resurrection, eternal life. I'm not sure that's how I would describe how we receive our hope.
- "the genuineness of your faith" 1 Peter says our faith, tested by fire, is more precious than gold. Note, importantly, that 1 Peter does not claim God tests our faith, but simply that "various trials" can test our faith. When and how has your faith been tested?
- "although you have not seen him, you love him." Ah, that's faith.
- "the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls." Hm. An interesting statement - in line with sola fide theology I guess. But I think it is important to know if by "salvation" 1 Peter means eternity - later, or something that we can take part in right now, right here.
- Ah, doubting Thomas. Most of us are less excited than I am to think of ourselves as being like Judas, but doubting Thomas we can relate to all too well. Who wouldn't want to see for himself, when everyone else had the benefit of seeing the risen Christ up close and personal?
- "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." Maybe today it is harder for us to take things on faith because we are so good at finding tangible - or at least scientific - proof for so many things. We can prove so much with our God-given minds - why not prove God? Prove Jesus? What do you believe without proof? Can you prove someone's love for you or yours for them? We try, but in the end, we just must trust.
- John is obviously concerned with verifying the physical nature of Jesus' resurrection by having Thomas touch and feel Jesus, see the wounds. To me, as I mention in the Acts passage, I think the life of Jesus gets ignored in our obsession with his death and resurrection. Obviously, his death and resurrection are important to us - but would they be important if he had taught nothing in his life? If he had not been in such radical ministry for three years? So, John wants us to know Jesus' resurrection is the real deal. That's fine by me - but the statements about belief are more powerful in this passage, I think. More challenging.