Five Rivers District
Today's Lectionary Text
“My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us the message of this salvation has been sent. Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him. Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead; and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm,
‘You are my Son;
As to his raising him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,
‘I will give you the holy promises made to David.’
I admire Paul’s tenacity. Not only did he travel far from home to reach people throughout the known world, but he provided some blunt teaching about Jesus that challenged his Jewish neighbors to consider the possibilities of a new covenant.
My recent trip to the Holy Land emphasized these points to me. Everywhere our group traveled, we easily saw the challenges associated with control of the land, a promise of something tangible from thousands of years ago so people could relate to the God of their creation. Where Herod’s temple once dominated the landscape, grand Muslim mosques now welcome believers. A tremendous wall separates Palestinians — Christians as well as Muslims — from Israelis. Walking the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem, praying at the Western Wall and walking through ruins of multiple ancient cities bring the history of this conflicted land to life.
In this passage, Paul and his traveling companion, Barnabas, have sailed to the northern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, beyond Israel’s present-day borders. They have entered a synagogue and are invited to speak. What comes next is a brief history lesson from Israel’s past and a theological lesson about how Jewish leaders missed the true identity of Jesus and His fulfillment of the Law.
Paul’s point: Leaders had put up barriers to protect their interests instead of tearing down walls so the people could see how Jesus fulfilled the promises made to David and so people could be saved from their sin.
Unfortunately, many of us build walls that keep us from seeing Christ fulfilling the potential in our own lives. We raise obstacles that prevent us from proclaiming to others that Jesus is Lord of all.
May we show tenacity in tearing down obstacles that prevent others from understanding the significance of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
— Todd Seifert, director of communications
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious God, help us to avoid becoming barriers for others. Instead, help us to break down the walls that prevent others from believing in your Son, our Savior. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
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