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Easter 3B Acts 3:12-20 Psalm 4 1 John 2 15-17, 3:1-6. Luke 24. 36b-48

+In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


Who are we?  Who was Jesus?  We can hear the conversation. “A good man. yes. perhaps one of the best who ever lived.”  “But just a man”. say many.  Others disagree, claiming that he suffered from delusions of grandeur, a Messiah complex.  And the argument rages over the true identity of this man called Jesus.  Suggestions have ranged from “A Simple teacher” to “Ego maniac” and “Misguided fool.”  Whoever he was, all would agree that Jesus left his mark on history.


Hearing these discussions even Christians can begin to wonder and doubt. “Is Jesus really God?  Did he come to save sinners; people like us? Or not?”   “Does God really care about me”? we might ask. The First letter of John was written to reassure Christians in their faith and to let us know that we have eternal life if we believe in the name of the Son of God and that we belong to God.


One of the quests of human nature is to understand who we are, and there are literally thousands of books written on the subject.  Every bookstore and library has Self-help books dedicated to finding out who we are. As believers, John tells us in chapter 3 of his first letter that our self-worth is based on the fact that God loves us and calls us his children.  We are his children now, not just sometime in the distant future.  Knowing that we are his children encourages us to live as Jesus lived. A life of service to others.


We are members of God’s family, and we will become reflections of God and as we grow to resemble God, we will have victory over sin, love for others, and confidence before God.  The Christian life is a process of becoming more and more like Christ and the process will not be complete until we see Christ face to face.  Knowing that this is our ultimate destiny, motivates us to live purer lives and we begin to understand the nature of sin better.


There is a difference between committing a sin and continuing to sin.  Even the most faithful believers because of our humanity sometimes commit sins, but they do not cherish a particular sin, and choose to commit it.  A believer who commits a sin, is sorry, chooses to repent, confess the sin and finds forgiveness.


After the resurrection of Jesus there were many who doubted that he had in fact died and rose again, so there were many signs to prove that he was real.  Jesus’ body was not just a figment of the imagination or the appearance of a ghost.  The Disciples touched him, and he ate food.  But his body was not merely a restored human body like Lazarus’s body who was also raised.  He was able to appear and disappear.  Jesus’s resurrected body was immortal.  This is the kind of body we will be given at the resurrection of the dead.


In the days and weeks following the resurrection, Jesus and the disciples travelled back and forth from Jerusalem to Galilee, several times before he finally returned to heaven and Luke writing in the Acts of the Apostles made it clear that Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples between his resurrection and his return to the Father in the place we call heaven.


 When Jesus was teaching his disciples he talked of the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms as a way of describing the writings of the Old Testament.   These writings point to the coming of the Messiah.  Jesus’s role as Prophet was told in Deuteronomy 18, 15-20 when we read that the Lord God said, “I will raise up for you a prophet like me from, among your own people”.  Jesus’ sufferings were prophesied in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53: 10-11. where we read “The righteous one shall make many righteous and shall bear their iniquities.”  Jesus opened the minds of the disciples so that they could understand the scriptures.  The Holy Spirit does this for us today.  As we read scripture, we find that we are given insight and find ourselves understanding more deeply things we have read before and perhaps not understood so well.


When we look at the Gospel reading, we find that Luke was writing mainly to people who spoke Greek.  He wanted them to know that Christ’s message of God’s love[i] and forgiveness should go out to the whole world.  It was not just for the Jewish people, or for the ones who knew Jesus when he was on earth.  Can we remember this and do all we can to assist the spread of God’s love and forgiveness?


When we reflect on who we are and who God is, and what it means to be holy, can we also think about what it means to be worldly.  Some people think that worldliness is limited to external behaviour.


The people we associate with, the places we go, the activities we enjoy are all indicators.  Worldliness is also internal because it begins in the heart and mind and is characterized by attitudes; God values self-control, a spirit of generosity and a commitment to humble service.


It is possible to give the impression of avoiding worldly things while harbouring worldly attitudes in one’s heart.  It is also possible to love sinners and to spend time with them while maintaining a commitment to the values of God’s kingdom.  Can we reflect and ask ourselves, what values are important to us, and do we reflect the world’s values or God’s values in all we say and do, and in the way we live.  Do we reflect God’s values to our children and our family members so that they can see and learn.

 

When we reflect on who we are, can we remember that we are God’s beloved children and can find our identity and life in Christ and our reflection in the light and love of God.


Amen.


Reverend Canon Camellia Flanagan tssf

Grafton Cathedral.


 

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