Acts 5:27-33; Ps. 34; Jn. 3:31-36
This morning, we have the continuation of yesterday’s readings from the Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of John. In Acts, Peter and the Apostles were arrested and put in prison for preaching in the temple in Jesus’ name, but an angel of God came in the night and set them free. The angel not only set them free, but commanded them to, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” So, Peter and the apostles returned to the place where Jesus taught, which was Solomon’s portico, and resumed their preaching of the Good News. This got them in trouble once again, because they were brought before the Sanhedrin to give testimony for disobeying the authorities, who explicitly told them not to teach in the name of Jesus. But, Peter, with all boldness, testifies on behalf of Jesus against the religious authorities who had him crucified saying, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.” Of course, this infuriated the religious leaders all the more, because the apostles were using an argument they could not refute: they obey God, not men.
Jesus tells us that the one who comes from above is above all. This includes even the high priests, who like the apostles are mortal. But, the one on whose behalf the apostles preach, namely, Jesus Christ, the Nazorean, has transcended death and sits at the right hand of God as leader and savior of us all. Given what the apostles have seen with their own eyes, what they have touched with their own hands, what they have come to understand about the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection, they cannot help but to share this Good News. And so today, during this second week of Easter, and our thirty-eighth day of shut-in, we are strengthened by this Good News, for “God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life…The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.” The Father loves us too, because the work of Jesus, the work of redemption and freedom from sin, is an ongoing reality. This time of isolation ought to be a reminder of how much we need Jesus. So, let us hold on to him as the apostles did in the temple, with all boldness and confidence that Jesus has come to deliver us from all that binds us and truly set us free.
Given during the COVID-19 pandemic.