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Bible Study: Easter 2 (A) – 2020

April 19, 2020

Acts 2:14a, 22-32

Peter is giving his very first sermon to a crowd of people in Jerusalem, following the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Pentecost. In this sermon, Peter’s whole thesis is demonstrated by quoting from both the prophet Joel and the Psalms; today’s portion focuses on the Psalms. Peter declares that Jesus, who has been crucified, died, and was buried, has now been resurrected. To drive his point forward, Peter claims that King David himself, from whom the messianic line was prophesied to descend, was even a prophet foretelling this wonderful, good news (take a quick look at Acts 1:16, where Peter asserts that the Holy Spirit spoke through David). Some of what Peter uses is from our psalm for today as well. Based on this evidence, the crowd later asks Peter, “What should we do?” This very address, this first sermon is a sermon about resurrection, which is to be the theme of the church throughout all ages.

  • Think about a time when something you never understood became perfectly clear in an instant. What was your first response to that “eureka” moment? Did you tell anyone about what you had discovered?
  • Peter’s sermon is addressed to his peers and fellow Jews, and they share a common language and religious texts. Peter is asking them to shift their thinking and their reading of prophecy to a new interpretation. Has there been a time in your life where you have been called on to help someone see God in a new, fresh and clear way? What was the experience like?

Psalm 16

This psalm is one of confidence. Much of the imagery that is used in the psalm is related to fulfillment or to things that delight the heart of a follower of the Lord. Verse 5 says that the Lord is “my portion and my cup,” an allusion to Joshua dividing the Promised Land into shares for each tribe; this person sees the Lord as his “portion,” rather than the land. The idea of God being his “cup” means that he receives his fill from the Lord. We can deduce two things: First, the psalm may have been written by a Levite, since Levites were not given a portion of land for sustenance and food, as they were the Priests who ministered in the Temple. Second, the Psalm may serve as a quasi-creed, something said to help the speaker remember his beliefs.

In the Acts reading, Peter used the last portion of this psalm as part of his text for his sermon on Pentecost. He could not have found a more perfect text. Jesus, who perfectly trusted in God (remember the Garden of Gethsemane and the prayer to let the cup of suffering pass?) has come through death into New Life. Peter uses this psalm as a prophecy to the events that had just occurred about 50 days prior. What better message than “You will not abandon me to the grave” can anyone think of?

  • Think of a time when your life has been completely shaken. It could be a death, a financial disaster, or a serious health concern. What about this psalm might help someone who finds themselves in these “faith-jarring” moments?
  • Verse 8 says that God “is at my right hand.” What does it mean to have God at your right hand?

1 Peter 1:3-9

The first chapter of this letter is a declaration of praise to God for his mercy, grace, and the gift of salvation. Salvation is seen as living hope and as an inheritance that is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.” It is eternal. Even through suffering or hardships, God is faithful.

Part of the passage is hard to decipher. What does it mean to be “more precious than gold that…is tested by fire?” Gold is purified in fire, making it more valuable. So, we need to ask ourselves what this says about our faith: Does suffering produce faith, or does suffering demonstrate faith? The answer probably varies greatly from person to person and circumstance. But Peter is calling on us to remember that our faith is revealed through the praise and worship of Jesus Christ, our Risen Savior.

  • How do we as Christians demonstrate a living hope in Jesus Christ, especially when encountering struggles and the daily toils of this world?

John 20:19-31

Too often, this passage is seen simply as the “Doubting Thomas” passage: Thomas didn’t believe, and so Jesus had to come a second time and prove himself to Thomas. I think we do St. Thomas a great disservice when that is all we read and hear. This passage has many more and much richer implications that just the “empirical verification” of Thomas. This passage has Jesus performing two distinct acts. The first is that he shows himself to his disciples, accomplishing several things. First, that he is indeed alive! Second, the disciples (and by extension, we ourselves) are getting a first glimpse of what a resurrected body looks like. Jesus’ body still bears that nail marks and the opening in his side. But he can also apparently “walk through” solid doors and walls. He even presses the point the next week when he tells Thomas to actually touch him, implying that he is not a ghost. The mystical nature of Jesus’ body is the same hope we proclaim when we declare that we look for “the resurrection of the dead” each Sunday at Mass.

Second, this reading is John’s Pentecost passage. Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit into his disciples (much like God breathing life into all of us in Genesis 2 and Ezekiel 37) and tells them to be at peace. Earlier in John, Jesus had promised the gift of the Holy Spirit following his glorification (John 7:39). This is a sign to his followers that the task for which he had come was completed. The forgiveness of sins is the new mission of the Church—a Spirit-filled mission—that is to take place in the world.

  • Jesus as the Risen Lord comes to his disciples and his first words are, “Peace be with you.” During this Eastertide, what are some ways the Church can both be at peace and show peace to the world. In what ways does the Holy Spirit empower the Church to show peace?
  • Jesus’ body bears the scars of his crucifixion. But it is also a “different” body, in that it is a restored body. We all bear scars of both physical and emotional trauma. How can these scars be “resurrected” and used to demonstrate that God forgives sins, and that we too must be a people centered around reconciliation?

This Bible study was written by John L. Blackburn, a student of the Iona Collaborative.

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Christopher Sikkema


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