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Bible Study: Easter 3 (B) – April 14, 2024

April 14, 2024

RCL: Acts 3:12-19; Psalm 4; 1 John 3:1-7; Luke 24:36b-48

Acts 3:12-19

You might have heard of Christians “sharing their testimonies,” either in a church setting or with friends and family outside of church. Usually, a testimony refers to the personal story and experiences that have led one to the Christian faith. In other words, it’s a telling of the truth as one person has personally experienced it. In this passage, Peter is giving a kind of testimony by reminding those who are listening of the story of Jesus’ life.

It’s important to note that passages from Scripture like this one have been used throughout history as a way to blame Jews for the death of Christ and as justification for violence or discrimination against Jewish communities. Peter, though, would have considered himself a Jew, a fellow member of the group of “Israelites” whom he addresses. This passage then is best understood as part of a community’s internal dialogue about a big and controversial event—the death and resurrection of Jesus—that has just happened in their midst.

  • Would you say that you have a testimony? If you were invited to offer your testimony at church, what would you want to say or share?
  • What are some groups that you belong to with whom you can have “insider” conversations? How do you think those conversations sound to an “outsider”?

Psalm 4

Nobody likes being ignored. Perhaps that’s the reason that giving someone the “silent treatment” is seen as such a brutal response: “Not only do I disagree, I won’t even acknowledge that you exist,” it says. Here, the psalmist says to God, “Please don’t ignore me, I need you to hear me.” The psalmist speaks with the confidence of one who has great faith in God’s promises, so much so that they are affirming those truths for others and urging them to put their faith in God too. At the same time, the psalmist urges God to make good on those promises by providing for them, keeping them safe, and hearing their prayers.

  • Where or with whom do you “dwell in safety?”
  • What do you need God to know about you?
  • How do we know that God hears our prayers? What should we do when it feels hard or even impossible to trust that God is listening to us?

1 John 3:1-7

Over and over in Scripture, we hear the relationship between God and human beings being compared to a parent-child relationship. This metaphor demonstrates how the inspired word of Scripture uses language and examples that we can understand as a way to help us understand the nature of God and ourselves. For many, the love and care shown by a parent for their child helps us to glimpse something about God. This passage also reminds us that children often inherit (through either nature or nurture) traits of their parents. Likewise, we as Christians strive to inherit traits of our God: to purify ourselves, to have no sin, and to be righteous.

  • What traits did you inherit from the people who raised you?
  • How does Scripture help you on your journey of faith? How does it challenge you?
  • What metaphors would you use to describe your relationship with God?

Luke 24:36b-48

Even though some people love them, I’ve never been much for ghost stories. If ghosts are real, I think they must know to steer clear of me! That said, I can understand why the disciples would have assumed that they were seeing a ghost when Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection. After all, what would the alternative be? They had just seen Jesus arrested, crucified, and buried. It couldn’t possibly be him standing in front of them…right?

When Jesus shows them the wounds in his hands and feet, the text tells us that, “in their joy they were disbelieving.” I love this turn of phrase, which captures so well the desire of the disciples to believe that Jesus is alive once again combined with their skepticism that such a thing is possible. Jesus shows them that it’s really true by expressing that most human of needs: hunger. As he eats the piece of fish that they give him, he affirms to the disciples that he is not just with them in spirit again, but in body, too.

  • Jesus’ resurrection is at the very heart of the Christian faith. Why do you think it is so important that Jesus rose from the dead not only in spirit but in body too?
  • If you were in the room, how do you think you would have reacted? What emotions might you have felt – fear, anger, joy, something else?

Sarah Neumann is a senior in seminary at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and a candidate for holy orders in the Diocese of Massachusetts. She studied sociology and religion at Williams College and worked in nonprofit development before pursuing a call to ordination. Prior to seminary, Sarah served most recently as minister for youth and young adults at Trinity Church in Boston and is passionate about preaching, congregational development, and Christian formation. Outside of church, she enjoys being outdoors, solving word puzzles, and befriending other people’s pets.

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