Bible Study, 3 Easter (B) – April 22, 2012

Discussion Leader: JK Melton, the General Theological Seminary

“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’” (Luke 24:37-39).

Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) readings:
Acts 3:12-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36b-48
(Click on the link to jump down the page to each reading.)

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Acts 3:12-19 (New Revised Standard Version)

12 When Peter saw it, he 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?
13 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.
14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you,
15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.
16 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.

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

Comments from this week’s seminarian, JK Melton:

Peter has just healed a man on the front steps of the Temple in Jerusalem. Seeing the astonishment of the crowd at this healing, Peter makes a clear point that God did the healing – not Peter, who is merely an agent of God’s healing. In fact, God did something even more miraculous – the people rejected Jesus and turned him over to the authorities to be killed, but God raised Jesus from the dead. Peter tells the crowd that because of these events, they should repent and turn to God.

As we move through the Easter season, in what ways is God calling you to newness of life? Is it through the miraculous? Or is it through the mundane, instead?

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Psalm 4 (Book of Common Prayer, p. 587)

1   Answer me when I call, O God, defender of my cause;
you set me free when I am hard-pressed;
have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

2  “You mortals, how long will you dishonor my glory;
how long will you worship dumb idols
and run after false gods?”

3   Know that the LORD does wonders for the faithful;
when I call upon the LORD, he will hear me.

4   Tremble, then, and do not sin;
speak to your heart in silence upon your bed.

5   Offer the appointed sacrifices
and put your trust in the LORD.

6   Many are saying, “Oh, that we might see better times!”
Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O LORD.

7   You have put gladness in my heart,
more than when grain and wine and oil increase.

8   I lie down in peace; at once I fall asleep;
for only you, LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Comments from this week’s seminarian, JK Melton:

We have all been a part of this dialogue at one time or another. Calling to God for help, and hearing God call us to repentance. God is faithful to his people, whether we dishonor his glory, worship dumb idols, or wish for better times. Even in those times, we are told to trust in God and offer the appointed sacrifices. God has plans for us and is working them out. As a result, we can lie down in peace.

This psalm has characteristics of a lament. Is there a part of you that is praying a lament? What stands in the way of lying down in peace?

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1 John 3:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version)

1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
3 And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

4 Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
5 You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.
6 No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him.
7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.

Comments from this week’s seminarian, JK Melton:

Christians are children of God, and that sets us apart. The world does not understand us, which should not surprise us, because the world did not understand Jesus. As God’s children, we have a special identity and special role in the world. We are a sign of the Reign of God, whether the world understand the Reign of God or not. We can take solace that God will be revealed in God’s time.

How can the Church, and we as the members of the Church, take our place as the children of God in this world? How can we better live into this identity? How should our lives be ordered so that all of God’s children can come within God’s loving embrace?

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Luke 24:36b-48 (New Revised Standard Version)

36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’
37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
38 He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?
39 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.’
40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’
42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
43 and he took it and ate in their presence.

44 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.’
45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures,
46 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,
47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
48 You are witnesses of these things.

Comments from this week’s seminarian, JK Melton:

How would we respond if the Risen Jesus appeared in the room? I suspect that we, like the disciples, would be “startled and terrified” and would think we were seeing a ghost.

Jesus’ response to their doubts is lovely – he asks for a bite to eat. He sees their doubts, and rather than dwell on them, he seeks to show them how real he is by behaving in the most natural way possible, asking for a snack. He asks them for what they can give him at that moment in time.

Where does Jesus appear in our lives today? I suspect we often do not notice, which may be worse than doubting. What do we need to do so that we can notice Jesus when he appears? What stands in the way of our seeing Jesus?

If we notice him, he may just stay awhile and open our minds to the scriptures – all while partaking in what we have to offer him, broiled fish or maybe something more.

Comments

  1. Mark Harbour says:

    To me, the underlying message in today’s reading (as JK Melton hints in suggesting we find “newness of life” in the mundane) is to focus more intently on relationships. If we take the time to probe and look closely, we can see glimpses of the face of God through others. A quote by Monot J. Savage seems to concisely capture the point.

    “We say we exchange words when we meet. What we exchange is souls.”

    God sometimes speaks to us through “ordinary people”…..are you listening?

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