Life Theology

Easter Sunday Meditation

This is a re-post of the Passion series from last year.

Luke 24:25-27:

And Jesus said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not neccesssary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

It’s early Sunday afternoon, just outside Jerusalem, on a dusty, lonely road to a small village named Emmaus.  Two followers of Jesus are walking and talking, depressed and downtrodden because their Messiah was murdered on Friday and his body lay in a tomb. Or so they thought.

Jesus comes near to them and asks what they were talking about. They stop dead in their tracks, look at Jesus and ask, “Don’t you read the news?” Jesus says, “Tell me about it.”  They say, “Jesus of Nazareth. They killed him. We thought he was our Redeemer. It’s been three days, and he’s still dead. But some women and some of our friends went to his tomb and did not see him. An angel told the women he was alive.” Now Jesus stops, and says, “Don’t you read the Prophets?”

Well, he might have well said that.

He said, in Luke 24:25, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not neccesssary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  Jesus’ resurrection and reign at the Father’s right hand is all the more glorious because he suffered a tortuous death. The plan was not for Jesus to live to a ripe old age, die peacefully, and then claim victory. No, he was pierced and beaten and mocked and crucified as a relatively young age — just as the Prophets said he would be.

But he didn’t stay dead.  If not for today, Good Friday would be Bad Friday. Our sins really wouldn’t be forgiven, and there would be no life after death.  The Apostle Paul said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17).  But he did rise, and with his resurrection, he gives eternal life to all those who believe, that even though we die, we might live.  In John 11, before Jesus called Lazarus back from dead, he told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (vv. 25-26).

Because of this day, Easter Sunday, everyone who believes in Jesus has hope that there will be life after the grave.  And so we sing with the saints of old:

Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes.
He arose the Victor from the dark domain,
And he lives forever with his saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah Christ arose!

Heavenly Father, thank you for Resurrection Sunday. Thank you that Jesus did not stay dead. Unlike all other ‘gods,’ you are alive and reigning over creation! God, thank you that one day too, because Jesus rose, I will rise even though I die, and I will live in your presence for eternity.


Peter and Cornelius

Part 6 of a 7 part series. View series intro and index.

In Acts 10, there’s a guy named Cornelius who is a centurion of the Italian Cohort (v.1).  When I hear “Italian Cohort,” I immediately think Vito Corleone.  This might not be the case with our man Cornelius, because the Bible tells us that Cornelius and his family love God.  They pray together and give money to the poor.

One day an angel of God appears to him.  He stares at the angel, probably wondering if it was the midnight snack speaking, and asks, “What is it, Lord?”  God says that his prayers have been heard, and tells him to send servants to bring Simon Peter in Joppa to him.

The next day, as Cornelius’ servants are on their way to Peter’s house, Peter went onto the roof to pray.  While he prayed, God gave him a vision.  In the vision there was a vast sheet with every kind of animal on it.  A voice says to Peter, “Rise, Peter, kill and eat.”  Peter sharply replied, “Lord, I don’t eat anything that is common.”  And the voice again says, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”  Verse 16 illustrates that God is trying to get a point across: “This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.”

Now Peter’s mind is scattered higgledy-piggledy over this.  The ESV says he “was inwardly perplexed” (v. 17).  Peter probably went into his study and opened up his journal for some introspective reflection.  While Peter’s journaling, Cornelius’ servants knock on the door.  They tell Peter the reason for their visit, and Peter invites them in.

After what is probably an awkward night, Peter and some friends go with the servants back to Caesarea.  Cornelius is waiting for them — probably with hot dogs, steak, bacon, and milkshakes.  Okay, maybe not, but you know a culture clash is about to happen.  When Peter walks in, he says, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation” (v. 28a).  But Peter didn’t stop there.  By God’s grace, sometime between verses 17 and 28, Peter realized what the vision was about.  He continued, “But God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean” (v. 28b).

Peter and his Jewish friends, along with their new Gentile acquaintances sit down together.  In verses 34-43, Peter lays out the good news of Jesus.  “To him all the prophets bear witness,” he proclaimed, “that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (v. 43).

Peter didn’t even finish before the Holy Spirit came over the Gentiles.  “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (v. 44).  They started speaking in tongues and were praising Jesus.  The circumcised Jews are freaking out, but Peter said, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (v. 47).

Peter and his friends returned to Jerusalem.  It’s almost certain that in the back of his mind, Peter had worries that his Jewish brothers might want to burn him as a heretic.  Nevertheless, he boldly told the church the whole story.  The response was anything but negative.  “And when they heard these things they fell silent.  And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life’ (11:18).  The Jews themselves realize that God’s bigger story is to take his kingdom to the world, not confine it to one race, one people, or one nation.

For the rest of Acts, we see the gospel of God’s grace go to Antioch, Cyprus, Iconium, Lystra, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Caesarea, and finally Rome.  All the families of the earth are starting to experience this promised blessing that God made to Abraham.  The gospel has torn down the walls of hostility and division between Jews and Gentiles.  Finally, God has granted repentance that leads to life for the whole world.

To be continued…