Fighting Words

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” (Acts 4:11)  Peter proclaims these words to the rulers and elders who have put him on trial for healing a crippled man. These words are audacious. They are brazen. They point the finger straight at the rulers and elders and say you have made a grave mistake. It is not simply that you have killed an innocent man, which would have been egregious enough. No, he says, you have crucified Israel’s Messiah, and God has raised him from the dead. And then Peter really gets going because he says that it is in the name of this crucified Lord and by the power of this risen Christ that the crippled man was healed. Moreover, it is by this Jesus that all are saved. 


Brazen and audacious indeed, but these words are more than that. The phrase, “the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone”, was straight from the Psalms. These are words that these rulers and elders would have been intimately familiar with, and yet they are spoken back to them in way that they never could have imagined on their own. They never could have imagined in all their study and reflection that these words were actually about Jesus. But God has acted definitely in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and everything is changed. Everything must be reinterpreted in light of this world shaping event. And this is what makes Peter’s preaching so revolutionary—he takes something so familiar and makes it unfamiliar; he takes something old and makes it new. And in so doing he lifts up the name of Jesus as the “name given under heaven by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). 


In quoting these words, Peter is doing exactly what he learned from Jesus in the days after the resurrection. He is returning to the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, and rereading them all in light of the death and resurrection of Jesus. And though this is how we as Christians ought to approach the scriptures ourselves, there is something more here too. It is not just the Scriptures that have to be reread, re-narrated in light of Christ. Everything must be reread, reimagined in light of the resurrection of Jesus. This is what the Easter season about. It is a time for us to ask ourselves what difference the resurrection makes right now. What difference does the hope of new creation make right now? 


These are especially important questions for us as we continue the process of becoming St. Bartholomew's. God has raised up our community in East Dallas in order to proclaim that the Lord is Risen. There are so many around us who need to hear those words anew or perhaps to hear them for the first time. And as we seek to proclaim those words with the same brazenness and confidence of Peter, we also have to humbly pray and to ask the Lord to show us how he wants to bring resurrection life to the people of East Dallas. 

- Chris+