Bible Study: 3 Easter (B)

April 19, 2015

Elizabeth HadawayVirginia 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)

The Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) readings:
Acts 3:12-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36b-48

Acts 3:12-19

At this point in the church year we read from the New Testament’s Book of Acts rather than the usual Old Testament source, yet this passage of Acts shows deep connections to the Old Testament. It reminds us that our salvation history includes the family history of Genesis and the prophecy of Isaiah. History and prophecy come to a point in a Greek word, paida, that can be translated in two ways. The New Revised Standard Version translates it as “servant” (verse 13); it can also be translated as “child.” Jesus is both: God the Son, the fully divine person of the Holy Trinity, who for our sake becomes the suffering servant prophesied in Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

Peter’s speech catches us and keeps us from falling into the cruel and divisive heresy of Marcionism. Marcionism rejects the God of the Old Testament, claiming that the God of the New Testament is not the God of Abraham. Christianity, however, is clear that we worship the God of Abraham: the same God who became human for us in the person of Jesus Christ.

Peter wants the crowd to know that what he does is not based on his own power or righteousness; it is a reflection of the work Jesus completed on the cross. How can your own life be a reflection of this?

Psalm 4

Psalm 4 is a delightful paradox, a public prayer about private prayer. It abounds in contrasts. By contrasts, like stepping stones, the psalmist moves from distress to confidence in God. It begins with a cry for help, which God answers by another contrast: the contrast between true and false. True worship combines the interior life of private prayer and examination of one’s own heart “in silence on your bed” (verse 4) and the exterior life of offering “the appointed sacrifices” (verse 5) with the community of faith.

Faithful prayer in a worshipping community reminds us that we are never alone in our distress. The psalm moves from speaking for an individual to speaking for the many suffering people who are looking for the face of the Lord. This is a reminder that we have companions. We have faithful witnesses of God’s love for us in liturgy and scripture. The reward of persistence in prayer is confidence in the Lord; not the confidence that is limited to a “wish list” of consumable items, but the spiritual confidence that comes from a loving relationship. What a privilege it is to enjoy pillow talk with God!

This is one of the psalms appointed for Compline (Book of Common Prayer, p. 127). Have you tried using Compline as a nightly prayer at home?

How can misdirected sacrifice lead to worship of false gods?

1 John 3:1-7

Like Psalm 4, 1 John is about a relationship of security in God’s love. Love is the reason God the Father calls us children. Love is the reason God the Son provides himself to take away our sins and the sins of those who wrong us. We need to remember these things because the materialistic world often rejects God and may also reject us for belonging to God’s family.

This passage calls us to humility and gentleness with ourselves and others: “Beloved, we are God’s children now, what we will be has not yet been revealed” (verse 2a). We are works in progress, growing in faith rather than fully grown. We are bound to make mistakes, yet we have hope because of Christ’s love for us. To abide in Christ is to continue to return to that love as our home, over and over again.

How is a Christian’s being “unknown” by the world like other forms of alienation from the world?

How is it different?

Luke 24: 36b-48

Despite what they have heard from other witnesses, the disciples gathered in Jerusalem are frightened at their first sight of Jesus after his resurrection. Jesus eases their fear into joy with words of peace and comfort, inviting them to touch him as proof of his reality. As further proof that he is himself, in the flesh, he asks for food and eats a piece of broiled fish. We say in the Apostles’ Creed that we believe in the resurrection of the body. We say in the Nicene Creed that we look for the resurrection of the dead. This is one of the passages at the core of our belief. The resurrection into which Jesus leads us is not merely “living on in memories.” Human memories fade and fail. The resurrection is more than memory. It is the fulfillment of the Word made flesh.

How can we be about the mission Jesus gives the disciples?

How does the hope of the resurrection empower us?

Comments

  1. Great post!! Thanks for this episode; it’s really interesting and valuable for me.

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