Today’s first scripture, an excerpt from the Book of Acts, continues the dramatic presentation of a miracle- a man who could not walk is healed of his infirmity through the intercession of the Apostles Peter and John.
This miracle happens in a very public setting proximate to the Jerusalem temple and as such causes quite a scene. Peter uses the occasion to preach, and his stirring words will reverberate throughout the city.
The apostle Peter’s sermon presents an article of the Church’s faith that we testify that to each time we proclaim our great creed. This is article of faith is that Christ the Lord is the fulfillment of the scriptures.
To believe that Christ is the fulfillment of the scriptures means that the Old Testament is not just a book of stories or history or poetry, but it is the story of God’s revelation in Christ. God in Christ is revealed slowly and deliberately over time and within the context of a people God has chosen to be bearers of his revelation in the world- a people called Israel.
Peter attempts to help the Israelites who gather around him as a result of the miracle to understand this- what the crowd has witnessed is the power of God in Christ, who is the one that Israel has hoped and longed for, and for whom they have been prepared to receive through God’s covenants with their ancestors, and through the law of Moses and the worship of the great temple.
The lesson for us is in terms of how we appropriate, appreciate and understand the Bible. As I said, the Bible is not for us simply a literary or historical text, but the Bible is a means through which God teaches us about Jesus Christ. The Bible is Christ’s story and understanding his story we come to better know who he is and what he asks us to be and to do.
This is important for us to understand about our faith in Christ. Our faith in Christ is not meant to be a result of our ideas or feelings, but our faith in Christ must always have a reference point in those realities that God has determined to be the ways by which he chooses to reveal the truth about Jesus- in the content of the Apostolic teaching, in the Sacraments and in the Church’s worship, in the great expressions of the Church’s creed, and in the Bible. All these are the ways God chooses to introduce us to the Lord Jesus and to make him known. The encounter with Christ that God gives to us becomes stilted, stunted without them.
The Gospel presents more eyewitness testimony to an encounter with the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
In this particular testimony, Christ the Lord makes it very clear that his resurrection has happened to his real flesh, his real body. The resurrection is not a subjective event, something that happens only in the minds or emotions of Christ’s followers. The resurrection is an objective event, a reality that has happened to the body of the Lord Jesus.
Christ identifies that the purpose of his resurrection is to provoke repentance, God in Christ acts in an extraordinary way so as to turn us away from sin and false gods and towards a life of virtue in loving friendship with the one, true God.
In other words, if we profess in faith that we believe in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus as the Gospels describe, then this means that we have accepted from Christ a new way of life- this way of life is the Church.
Believing that Jesus Christ rose from the dead is not just a matter of assent to a proposition- it means that we have accepted a unique way of life.