It’s not the sort of message that will win friends and influence
people. But it’s a refrain of the first several chapters of the
book of Acts. (See Acts 3:15; 4:10; 7:52.) You might call it “The
Gospel of ‘You Killed Jesus.’” “God has made him both Lord
and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” We have to wonder
whether those who first heard this message might not have
heard in this proclamation the very real possibility of a threat.
This Jesus you killed, God has vindicated by raising him from the
dead. You killed him. He’s back. This can’t end well. . . . We can hear
a certain existential anxiety in the response of those gathered in
Jerusalem: “What should we do?”
While we often call this story “the good news,” we may
wonder, What on earth is good about this news?
The good news is that though we have made ourselves
God’s enemies, God nevertheless pursues us in love. We may
not literally have crucified Jesus, but we make ourselves God’s
enemies whenever we oppose God’s good work in the world.
Yet God still pursues us in love. This One whom we rejected,
God has rescued. And now Christ comes to invite us to repent,
to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and to live into the amazing
adventure that awaits.
By the thousands, Peter’s hearers do just that. And, as Acts
records, the world is changed forever. A people who know
that their outright rejection of God cannot dissuade God from
pursuing them passionately, a people who know that God manifests
that same passion and takes that same posture toward the
world around them feel empowered. That’s good news that will
change your life.
Lord, impress upon me the tenacity of your love. Amen.
What is the Easter message, and what are we to do with it? Two dimensions of the responses to God’s act of raising Jesus stand out. First, repeatedly the texts speak of public worship. Second, the texts speak of changed lives. In 1 Peter 1 the Resurrection effects a new birth marked by obedience to the truth and mutual love. The two responses—public worship and transformed lives—are not separate from each other in the texts. One leads to the other and back again.
• Read Acts 2:14a, 36-41. What of Peter’s words that follow speak to the heart of the good news: “God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified”?
• Read Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19. The psalmist declares that he will pay his vows to the Lord “in the presence of all [God’s] people.” As the author notes, what story will you tell about God’s work in your life?
• Read 1 Peter 1:17-23. When have you witnessed God’s guid- ing hand at work in your life, not only in pleasant times but also in disappointment and darkness?
• Read Luke 24:13-35. When have you participated in a Bible study that offered such illuminating results? When have you experienced the inbreaking of God’s life at the table of Jesus Christ?
Respond by posting a prayer.