Peter began to speak: “You know the message that spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
“We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead
“He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the Prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Peter summarizes the story so far. His words feel like myth – they have that depth and richness to them, echoes of past and future – of eternity’s timelessness. But this story has no end, because Jesus became the Living Word, the Word that entered into human history, human story, and reshaped it. Stories have a beginning and an ending – human ones do, anyway. But divine stories don’t. God is Alpha and Omega. Jesus literally broke through the endings of sin and earth and rewrote them into eternal living – unending, forever, living in the love of God. Jesus as Living Word is more than story, more than narrative – He is Living Truth. And the Truth is that He rose and redeemed us all.
I imagine the Disciples were still in a state of shock as they listened to Peter speak. All those emotions – from terror, during the leadup to Jesus’s arrest, to helplessness and despair… and probably deep guilt at not being able to do more, not being able to save their Lord, knowing that He died and they survived. Maybe confusion, too, not understanding why things were happening the way they were. And then the grief, the traumatic shock of witnessing such a vicious death, of being alone, of being afraid, of having their hearts broken. And finally the absolute confusion, incredulity, skepticism, disbelief, and ultimately awe, wonder, and overwhelming joy as Jesus rewrote the rules of life and death and came back to the Disciples.
Imagine that your God rose from the dead and came back to see you. You, specifically. To comfort and guide and be with you, His human friend. A being who can rise from the dead can do anything, go anywhere, escape the bounds of the known universe. And yet He chose His Disciples and friends. What great power mingled with what great humility – what love. The Disciples must have felt this shocking love deep in their bones. Here is Jesus Christ, who can circumvent existence as we know it, who could be king of all the Earth, and yet He chose to come back and walk these dusty roads with us, sup with us in our hidden rooms, wait patiently while we put our fingers in his wounds and began to believe.
You could only feel overwhelmed by honour and love, that He chose you.
And He chose us.
Over and over, He keeps choosing us.
So we choose Him back, the only way we can, by testifying. Witnessing. Teaching. Evangelizing. Worshipping. Singing. Praying. Writing. Believing even when we doubt. By letting our voices carry His Living Truth through each moment of our lives.
Peter says that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name. Simply put, we receive love. Forever love, forever life in God’s love, because He chose us. That is the promise, that is why we witness, preach, testify. That is why we sing – Alleluia! Praise the Risen Lord!