What Do You Say?

Sunday May 1, 2022 The Third Sunday of Easter (Cycle C)

The tie in between today’s readings: Out of the Heart the Mouth Speaks (Matthew 12:34)

Psalm 30:2 ;4-6; 11-12bActs 5:27-32; 40-41Revelation 5:11-14John 21:1-19

What do you say when everything is going right? In Psalm 30, after the Lord had rescued him from narrow escapes, put down all his enemies, and established his throne, King David responds in pride. In verse six he basically says, “I’ve made it to the top and I’m here to stay!” God didn’t like that. He unfriends David from His face book account. Here is an important insight into David’s saintly character: he could have chosen to go on living proud in his own power, without any further help from the Almighty, but instead, he calls God up to mend fences. On the first phone call (verse 9), with his pride still going strong, David leaves a message telling God that He would only be hurting Himself by breaking off their relationship. The Lord, who needs no one, doesn’t even return the call. In verse 10, a humbler David calls back and they make up. An overjoyed king learned his lesson. Prosperity can foster pride. Watch out! God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34).

Speaking of pride…what do you say when, after boasting that you would never forsake the Lord and then you do it hours later…three times? Not to mention, that in a few days, on Easter Sunday, Jesus rises from the dead and comes to pay you and your friends a visit? Can you say awkward? Peter is so guilt ridden that the third time they all encounter Jesus, in John 21:1-19, he is patently overcompensating like a husband who forgot their anniversary. They see Jesus on shore from their boat. Peter can’t wait to row into shore with the others. No, he has to dive in and swim to Jesus! Then, everybody out of the way! Good old reliable Pete has to be the one to drag the big heavy net with the big catch of fish over to the fire! OK, there’s a six-hundred-pound gorilla in the room that Jesus needs to deal with. “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Jesus asks Peter three times and three times He gets a humble, yes. The Lord doesn’t berate, ask for an apology, or demands a promise to do better. Jesus knows that Peter loves Him, loves Him so much that, in restoring their relationship, the Lord tells Peter that he will be martyred for his testimony. That is because perfect love dispels all fear (1 John 4:18). And now, Peter is fearless.

What do you say when Peter the Deny-er becomes Peter the Defy-er? That’s the situation the high priest and the Council faced in Acts 5:27-41. They hauled Peter and the apostles in for a “We thought we told you guys before” session over their preaching of Christ’s resurrection. The Apostles shoot back with an “in your face” testimony: “You killed the Messiah. He rose again and sits at the right hand of God. You can still come to Him for the forgiveness of your sins. We are His witnesses and if you don’t like it, too bad! We work for God!” Incensed, the Council intended to kill our bearers of the Good News before they could get a chance to reach Acts Chapter 6. But a cooler head prevailed. Gamaliel, a respected Pharisee, says, “Look, we’re not so sure what we’re dealing with here. We’ve seen guys like these come and go. Let’s take the P.R. hit for now and wait until it all blows over. Who would remember? But, if these men are the real deal, then our arm’s too short to box with God.” So, the Council warned, whipped, and released the apostles. Heading for home, you could hear them praising God that they were considered worthy to suffer for Jesus, all the while comparing floggings to see which one gets bragging rights for the biggest beating. “Fanatics,” someone from the Council murmured.

What do you say when you’re confronted with the truth of Christ, real and raw? The answer is found in Revelation 5:11-14. Draw back the celestial curtains and you’ll hear the countless numbers of heavenly creatures loudly proclaim: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive: power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev 5:12). Then, to add to all those “ands”, EVERY created thing on the earth, under the earth, and in the sea join in: “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever” (Rev 5:13). That pretty much covers the waterfront, don’t you think? To sum up, as the Bible says: “Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the praise and glory of God” (Philippians 2:10-11). It is clear that you too will make this confession, willingly or unwillingly. So, give up your pride like David. Don’t be stubbornly in denial like the Pharisees. Don’t live in guilt like Peter. Humble yourself and confess your sins to Jesus. He will forgive you and, in His love, perhaps you will even become fearless for Him. What do you say?

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