For churches which follow the church calendar, this coming Sunday is the Second Sunday of Easter. Easter is not so much a one-day celebration of the resurrection of Jesus as it is a season to reflect on the meaning of the Resurrection for our lives. After seven Sundays of the Easter season comes the day of Pentecost which this year falls on May 31. Pentecost is the day on which the Holy Spirit comes with power to form the spiritual Body of Christ, the Church.
Two of the readings for the Second Sunday of Easter are from Acts 2 and Psalm 16. In Acts 2, the Apostle Peter delivers a powerful sermon linking the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus with a new era of history inaugurated in Jerusalem on that Day of Pentecost. It is the Era in which we still live.
At the beginning of Biblical history, we learn that sin, or rebellion against God, has consequences. Most often those consequences fall first on other people before eventually coming back on us. Yet, the ultimate result of those consequences is the same; they bring death.
The COVID-19 Pandemic is a solemn reminder of that inevitable fact. We all face death because we are mortal and we live in a world affected by countless decisions of billions of people and the spiritual powers they unleash against the God of the Universe. Even the Son of God living in such a world could not escape those consequences. Even though he did not participate in the rebellion against God, he did suffer its consequences. So, Peter could rightly tell his congregation at Pentecost, “this man, [Jesus]…you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law…” You did it. We did it. Even the pinnacle of religious thought and government authority conspired to kill Jesus. That is the result of the sinful human era in which we live.
But, Peter goes on to say, a New Era begins right now! It is the Era of the Spirit forming the Body of Christ, the Church, that can reach every time and place, every culture and people group. The New Era is made possible because of the Resurrection! Peter quotes again from Psalm 16, “David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, ‘He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.’” And then, Peter goes on to emphatically announce, “This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.” (Acts 2:32)
Thus, Jesus becomes our saving model in these ways:
- We follow Jesus in life, in self-giving love.
- In doing so, we follow Jesus in death, giving up our own selfish interests and taking on ourselves the consequences instead of participating further in the human rebellion (sin).
- And, in following Jesus even unto death, we come into the New Era, the Era of Resurrection, the Era of the Spirit and the Church and the fullness of God’s life—eternity entering into our world.
So, in this era of pandemic, let us live in the greater overarching Era of Resurrection even as the psalmist reminds us.
8 I always put the LORD in front of me;
I will not stumble because he is on my right side.
9 That’s why my heart celebrates and my mood is joyous;
yes, my whole body will rest in safety
10 because you won’t abandon my life to the grave;
you won’t let your faithful follower see the pit.
11 You teach me the way of life.
In your presence is total celebration.
Beautiful things are always in your right hand.
Psalms 16:8-11 (CEB)