Whenever Peter begins to speak I smile. You never know if it will be wrapped in humility, or be served with humble pie. Acts 10:34-43 is simply beautiful, “I now know…” he says, “…God does not pick favorites…all who want him are welcome (paraphrase mine).” It’s a lesson Peter will have to learn again, but for now embraced by the miraculous resurrection of Christ he is overcome with the gift of salvation to everyone everywhere.
I want to cry out like the Psalmist in 118:14 “The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.” Both are true and yet difficult to hold on to. I am still stuck in Psalms 22 with a broken heart clinging to the truth of the resurrection because it is the only thing that gives me hope. The Lord is my strength and song I say over and over, even when I don’t believe it.
In John 13, when the Lord stoops down to wash His disciples feet and Peter tells Him to stop, the Lord replies in vs 7 “You do not understand what I am doing now, but you will understand after these things.” Their current reality was one of celebration yet their hearts were about to break. Before the suffering of the crucifixion, and certainly in the midst of, Peter could not understand the why. It’s as if Peter, on the other side of the cross and resurrection, is crying out “I GET IT!” Isaiah 65:17-25 speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. Perhaps I have to wait to see the fullness of God. Perhaps the doubt that characterized Peter during Christ’s journey to the cross is the reality of where I live for now waiting for the realization of understanding.
I understand Peter, his stumbling tongue and terrified heart. I want to be the Peter in Acts 10, but I am still the Peter seeking safety in the middle of the suffering.
Fear of the unknown intermixes with grief in strange ways that leave us feeling guilty. My children are struggling with the loss of their friend along with the realization of their own mortality. This fear is a reality my cancer survivor lives with, a reality that surfaces with each loss. She needs to know the why. Perhaps it is survivor’s guilt, or maybe compassion, or perhaps just fear of the unknown. More than likely it is all three wrapped up in a messy package of grief.
My hugs and reassurance bring little comfort.
The promise of a future resurrection brings some relief to her tears, and yet the promise feels like an eternity away. So we cling on to the hope of Easter. We participate in the communion table remembering our suffering Lord. It is in His suffering that I feel like I belong to Him and He to me.
This morning I sat across the table from a friend who shared the complexity of connecting with a sinless Christ who we claim to be fully human. It’s the first time that I’d really seen Christ in this light. A man who was tempted as I was but never actually succumbed to the temptation, a man who did not have to pull himself out of his own faults because as much as he was tempted he did not succumb. It’s not in the polished perfection of Christ that I find my strength, it’s in the one weeping in the garden begging that this cup be taken from Him. That Christ I understand. The desire to pass over the suffering and not enter into it resonates.
For now, before having feet planted in the new heaven and new earth, I find hope in the words of 1 Corinthians 15:19-26. It’s a promise that death will be conquered. And if there is one thing the Bible holds it is a testament of fulfilled promise after promise. If God was faithful then, why should we doubt his faithfulness now?
In John 20 the tomb is empty.
Death is defeated.
The first true resurrection, the one that gives us hope for our loved ones who have gone before us, the one that gives us hope for our own broken bodies.
Christ is risen.
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