Hear this Church, we need to stop trying to limit who can receive the Good News – who can be welcomed into the body of Christ. It is our calling to preach and teach the good news, and then to rejoice in celebration and welcome all who proclaim that Christ is Lord.
The power of Christ and the work of the Church is a threat to societal powers – whether political or institutional. The power of Christ is a threat to any individual who seeks wealth and power for themselves, especially at the expense of others. The Church today needs to reclaim the early church’s prayer for boldness in proclaiming this power-threatening truth.
We – the Christian Church – have strayed so far from whom God created us to be. In the coming few weeks we’re going to consider how we might reclaim for the Church our call and our witness. Today’s text in Acts 3 invites us to consider that when we begin to witness to the power of Christ as Peter did, the invitation for others to embrace this power will carry the weight of the glory it proclaims.
Easter is worth the celebration, but do we really know why we’re celebrating? Do we fully understand the invitational power of God in the resurrection? Not only do we remember the Easter story, but we also consider how the story invites us to be Easter people: an expansive, forgiving, community of power that proclaims God’s love to everyone.
Police cars and chariots have a lot in common. Their mere presence is a statement of power. Jesus was riding in to town using a borrowed bicycle. Across town, Pilate entered the city with sirens blazing. One coming in humility, the other in a prideful show of force. Are we really surprised that those who shouted “Hosanna!” (“Save us!”) quieted so quickly?
John 3:16 is one of the most well-known, often quoted scriptures in the whole of the Christian Bible. Yet, it is often used to chastise those of no faith for lacking faith. In its context, spoken by Jesus to Nicodemus, it seems to have a different intent.
Jesus’ rage in the temple isn’t just a statement against the corrupt economic practices that preyed on traveling pilgrims, it’s also a statement about the witness of the presence of God. Jesus defines his body as the dwelling place of God, and in the physical absence of Jesus, the church becomes the Body of Christ. How well do we portray the presence of God in the world?
Mark 8:31 includes Jesus saying that he “must undergo” great suffering, and would die at the hands of the temple leaders. Still today, it is regularly debated in the church whether or not Jesus “had” to die. Perhaps this question is best answered in by asking the question in reverse: “Was it possible for Jesus to be 100% committed to God’s will for humanity without facing the burden of the Roman cross?”
On the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus. Their presence harkened back to the final text of the Old Testament, in which Malachi invites the faithful to remember the covenant made with Moses, and the to look forward to the return of Elijah. The Transfiguration solidifies what the disciples were longing for, the promise of the prophets made flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, come to liberate them from the fear of death and the hatred of oppression.
Isaiah promises that the Messiah to come will come as a suffering servant. This would have been an unexpected and unwelcome announcement by those who desired a warrior-like king to redeem them from their enemies. Yet, as Jesus walked the Emmaus Road with the disciples, he likely not only identified himself as the suffering servant, he probably invited the disciples to consider how they might heed God’s call for the faithful to see themselves as freed from the powers of empires that we all might be servants of the Almighty.