EDITORIAL: After Easter

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
…Now when (the temple leaders) saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus.”
From The Acts of the Apostles, chapters 3-4
The surge of good feeling and emotion felt only weeks ago on Easter morning always meets hard tests in the ordinary days following Christians’ celebration of their highest holy day.
Anticipation always happens more easily than realization, which is after the fact, whether in religious experience or the more mundane seasons and cycles in life.
After Easter, those who claimed the glory on Easter morning must decide what happened and how it changed them. If it happened, and people believe it, what difference does it make?
The New Testament record offers enormously good news for everyone: Easter is transformative.
In the Acts of Apostles, Peter and John, one called the Rock and the other the Beloved, went to the Jerusalem Temple for preaching and teaching. On the way in they encountered a man physically handicapped since birth. He sought alms; he received healing – and walked, with strength and vitality – for the first time.
The religious leaders of the Temple did not like what had happened. It continued the challenge to their self-claimed authority.
They confronted Peter and John, and Acts notes, “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus.”
The mark was on them – and in them. They were remembered as companions of Jesus. There’s also a bold evidence in their deeds that in the companionship something extraordinary happened.
Peter Gomes, the preacher at Harvard Memorial Church, writes, “Why is it that people respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Why is that the poor, the oppressed, the old, the weak and the marginal respond to Jesus Christ in all ages and at all times? Because they have expectations of transformation.”
Gomes says in that sermon, “Ordinary people,” that they come to know who and what they are in Christ Jesus. “These (temple) critics recognized that that power, that boldness, was not in the peculiar gifts and personalities of Peter and John, it had to come from somewhere. …They had been with Jesus, and this was the explanation. They had somehow caught the infection of the resurrection and believed themselves to have the same power as Jesus Christ.”
That gift, Gomes says, is the calling of ordinary people, “people just like ourselves.”

 

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