While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.
The words of the late John Lewis, congressman from Atlanta, a pastor, and leader in the Civil Rights movement since his youth came to mind as I read the text above. In a tweet in 2018 as well as on other occasions, he said, “Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
Getting in good, necessary trouble, it seems, is what Peter and John discovered for themselves in the text above. It came as a direct result of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. They boldly witnessed to what God had done in raising Jesus from the dead. They challenged those who either directly or indirectly put Jesus to death. They “made some noise,” John Lewis might say, and then came the trouble.
The results were life changing. Many people who heard their bold testimony became believers on the spot. Others, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees were ready to lock them up—and did! I suspect these leaders would have liked it best if these followers of Jesus had just gone back home and kept quiet.
The story here of Peter and John and the other followers of Jesus is a reminder to us that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead changes everything. Now the disciples who ran away in fear as Jesus was led away to be crucified are so confident that God has won the future that they are willing to be trotted off to jail time after time in the early chapters of Acts! They were no longer afraid—they were certain God had acted decisively! They assumed a new role—no longer only disciples (followers and learners)—now they also became apostles—people with a message to deliver and a mission to fulfill!
I wonder what this means for you and me as persons who claim to believe and follow Jesus as we emerge from the pandemic in Easter 2021 and beyond.
I believe the resurrection of Jesus that changed everything for his first followers also continues to change everything for us today. In the past year our world has been turned upside down like few of us have ever experienced before.
We may have this strong yearning inside us to get back to the way things were before the pandemic struck the world. Yet, like the followers of Jesus, you and I may now discover a new clarity of role and mission like we have never known it before.
As we leave the places of safety and refuge that have kept us protected this past year, will we speak boldly of our God in Jesus who has defeated death and meets us every day in the daily events of our lives? Could we move from being followers and learners of Jesus (disciples) to also being apostles who are messengers with the mission of God? Is there “good, necessary trouble” ahead for some of us?
So…important questions for you and me who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior as we engage in life in this world in 2021 and beyond—the time of our lives! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Let us pray...
O God of Resurrection, meet us in our timidity and fear and show us the future where your love, mercy, and justice prevail. Give each of us a voice to speak from those parts of our being that cling to your goodness and assurance with clear words of compassion, forgiveness, and healing for all people. Amen.