Third Sunday of Easter

By Faith in His Name

Peter and John had performed a great miracle. At the gate of the Temple they healed a man who was lame from birth. Many people observed what they did, though it was not what they did. Reading from Acts:

Peter addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.   (Acts 3:12-16)

.The risen Lord was real to Peter and John. They knew he was still with them, even though he had ascended to the Father. This was not the case at first. Jesus had to reprimand them for their unbelief. Reading from Luke:

Jesus himself stood among the disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.   (Luke 24:36-43)

The disciples saw Jesus first as a ghost and were frightened. Jesus had to prove to them that he had a body and was truly alive. He then opened their minds to understand what his death and resurrection meant:

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.   ()

The disciples were taught directly by Jesus for three years but they did not fully grasp what his ministry was about. Now they understood who he was and is. Jesus had become more real to them than ever before. He was the same person they knew before, but now he was also the Lord of all. His name was above every name. His purpose was instilled in them. They learned the power and authority that they had in his name. When they did they could carry on his work on the earth with great confidence that they were standing in for him until he returned in glory.

:Peter could now boldly preach the Gospel of Christ: Again, reading from Acts:

“And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.”   ()

Jesus became real in the disciples, now apostles. They remembered that Jesus promised:

I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.   (John 14:13)

Of course, there will always be opposition from the enemy. The bolder we become, the more he will try to stop us. The Jewish authorities forbid that the apostles speak about the name of Jesus anymore. Under threat of persecution, the apostles had a prayer meeting. They prayed, in part:

And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants[k] to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant[l] Jesus.” When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.   (Acts 3:29-31)

The age of the apostles is not over.. We, too, have been given power and authority in the name of Jesus. We were not there to see Jesus resurrected from the dead. We did not hear his great commission to preach the Gospel to all the world. But we have the testimony of men and women who gave their all because Jesus was so real to them. Is the risen Lord real to us? Has he become our cornerstone? Is he our foundation? Is he the head of our church. If so, leet us step out in boldness. The risen Lord is with us. He needs us to carry on the ministry in his name.

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Filed under Easter, Eucharist, Gospel, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year B

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