By Michael Fitzpatrick
A Reading from Acts 2:22-36
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know — 23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24 But God raised him up, having released him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25 For David says concerning him,
‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover, my flesh will live in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades
or let your Holy One experience corruption.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29 “Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,
‘He was not abandoned to Hades,
nor did his flesh experience corruption.’
32 “This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.” ’
36 “Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Being a Christian means to be in solidarity with those who followed Christ first. Solidarity is a bit of a buzzword today, and I want to appropriate it for thinking about the faithful life. To be in solidarity with the first Christians is to be faithful to the same life practice they were seeking to welcome others into. We cannot reasonably say we’re in solidarity with their project if they would not recognize themselves in our project.
Acts 2 features one of St. Peter’s earliest formulations of that project. They saw God at work through Jesus in wonders and signs. They saw God at work in permitting “wicked people” to execute Jesus on a cross. They testified that God raised him from the dead “because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”
Perhaps most significantly, St. Peter in this early bit of evangelism makes it clear that, whatever else the first Christians thought about the Resurrection, they thought it meant the tomb was empty and the body of Christ raised. In their mind, the bones of their patriarch David were still in Judea somewhere. But the Messiah, the anointed one, was not in the grave, “nor did his body see decay.” That is what is meant by God raising this Jesus to life, whatever else we should want to say about it. David did not ascend into heaven, but Jesus did.
If we’re in solidarity with the first people who experienced God in Christ, shouldn’t that mean we too hold that God raised this Jesus, that the tomb was empty, that the bones of Jesus are no longer lying in Judea? For it was on this conviction that St. Peter dared to say to the crowds, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”
Michael Fitzpatrick is a doctoral student in philosophy at Stanford University. He attends St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, Calif., where he serves as a lay preacher and teacher.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Matana – The Anglican Church of Burundi
Holy Spirit Episcopal Church, Waco, Texas