This early, fledgling church in Jerusalem is trying to find its way. Resurrection life matters, but they’re trying to figure out exactly how it matters.
Right before this text, Peter and John had healed a lame man in the name of Jesus, who then began jumping around, dancing, and praising God for this miracle.
Everyone around heard the commotion and came running to see what was going on. As they came, they recognized the walking man as the one who was formerly lame. And they were, obviously, amazed and curious. They see a man jumping around who couldn’t walk, and they hear him praising God for it. Obviously some kind of unexplainable event, and obviously this man, and probably many others, believe that God is responsible for it.
So the text today begins with words that bring fear and trembling to many. Today’s text starts with “When Peter saw it, he addressed the people.”
Oh, dear. Peter is going to talk. What is going to come out of his mouth this time? What mess will he create that we’ll have to clean up later? Often that’s the case with Peter, who apparently never has an unexpressed thought.
But Peter, although kind of crass and maybe even rude, does OK here. What he’s doing is sharing with those who now see a man dancing around who couldn’t move before that this is why resurrection life is important. He’s making sure he’s connecting this man’s healing with the resurrected Jesus.
This isn’t just a generic God thing. This man who is made whole right in front of you was healed specifically in the name of Jesus, whom you also know. Remember Jesus, he says? The one crucified by Pilate just a few weeks ago? Well, guess what? God raised him from the dead–we have seen him–and he is the cause of this man’s healing!
You may not have known this about Jesus, Peter continues. But he is the suffering Messiah you’ve heard about all your lives. He’s the one. Yes, Jesus. And this shows you what a difference the resurrection life has.
Resurrection life is different than anything you know. It helps us start anew. It brings forgiveness. It wipes out sins, it restores and renews. And it comes through Jesus.
All Peter is doing is sharing what he has experienced. The resurrection of Jesus brings new life. It is drastic. Peter is passing on insights gained from his resurrection experience. He is passing on his faith.
Notice he doesn’t say anything about doctrine, or about the correct things we have to believe. He’s simply passing along his own experience of the resurrected Jesus. He doesn’t pit Lutherans against Presbyterians, or Jews against Gentiles. He has some experience of the reality of resurrection life, and is passing it on. Those who saw this sign of resurrection and may be wondering about it now have the experience of Peter to go along with it. Jesus, crucified, risen, brings life, healing, newness. That’s what Peter has experienced, so that is what he passes on to the crowds.
That’s what passing on the faith is. It’s not teaching doctrine or memorizing the catechism (though those aren’t in-and-of-themselves bad things). But passing on the faith is experiencing resurrection life and sharing that experience.
“Here’s what I know about Jesus,” we can say. “Here’s where I’ve been given a new beginning, a new life, a new chance, a new hope. And it’s because of the resurrection of Jesus that I recognize these things.”
A community filled with resurrection life passes on the faith any time we share our experiences of resurrection. Made new in Christ, we can’t help it. We are filled with resurrection life! We share our experiences.
Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!