Standing On The Promises
“Standing On The Promises”
A Sermon for May 4th, 2003, Year B, Easter 3
By The Rev. Philip R. Taylor, Deacon
Free Episcopal Church
Psalm 98:1-5; 1 John 1:1-2:2; Luke 24:36b-48
4… / 5It happened that the next day the rulers, elders and scribes held a meeting in Jerusalem 6 with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, Jonathan, Alexander and all the members of the high–priestly families. 7 They made the prisoners stand in the middle and began to interrogate them, ‘By what power, and by whose name have you men done this?’ 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed them, ‘Rulers of the people, and elders! 9 If you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a cripple and asking us how he was healed, 10 you must know, all of you, and the whole people of Israel, that it is by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, and God raised from the dead, by this name and by no other that this man stands before you cured. 11 This is the stone which you, the builders, rejected but which has become the cornerstone. /
When I read the lessons for this third Sunday of Easter, I noticed that variations on the word ‘stand’ appeared in two of the lessons. In Luke’s Gospel we are told that “…he himself stood among them…” and in Acts Peter proclaims to the Sanhedrin “…it is by Jesus Christ…that this man stands before you cured.” Immediately, the words of a favorite hymn came to mind:
Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.
Standing on the promises of God, my Savior;
I'm standing on the promises of God
(R. Kelso Carter)
The lesson from Acts reports that Peter is also standing, along with his fellow apostle John, for both of them have been made to “…stand in the middle…” to be interrogated concerning a healing and their preaching about the resurrection of Jesus.
As we read and hear this story from Acts, one can not help but be amazed at the transformation that has occurred for Peter and the other apostles. The young faith community is only a few weeks old. Now Peter, once so terror stricken and in fear for his life that he would deny even knowing the Galilean, stands boldly and confidently in the very midst of the power brokers in Jerusalem.
Not only has a lame man been allowed to stand and to walk in the name of Jesus, but also a power has been released in the life of Peter. Everything has changed for Peter, his terror has changed into boldness and his doubt has changed into supreme confidence.
This change in Peter’s life is as a result of the resurrection of Jesus. As Peter stands and lectures the Sanhedrin about what and who has caused the healing of a cripple, he is also witnessing to his own cure. Not only does a former lame man stand before the Sanhedrin but a former spiritual cripple, Peter himself, also stands before them.
The radical change in Peter’s life is no less a miracle than the cure of the man crippled from birth. They are both now ‘standing on the promises’.
Peter also brings us another truth in his bold lecture of the Sanhedrin. He tells us about a truth that scripture repeats over and over again and a truth that we constantly struggle to understand. Peter tells his shocked audience and us that what we mortals reject God raises up, and what we marginalize God brings to the center of life.
Peter obviously believes with all his being that Christ has become his center, the promise on which he will stand. He also believes that this life giving and healing power of the risen Christ is available to others, “…it is by Jesus Christ…that this man stands before you cured.”
Is it possible that Peter is right? Can this life giving and healing power be claimed by us and brought to the center of our life? Can we be reborn, given new life, changed, and healed in order to ‘stand before you cured’? Beloved, the answer is YES! The answer of Easter is a resounding YES!
It is possible for any one of us to ‘stand before you cured.’
It is possible for any one of us to claim the healing power of Jesus for ourselves and for others.
It is possible that others may experience the life giving and healing power of Jesus because of our own witness to ‘standing on the promises’.
May each of you be blessed
As you bring Jesus to the center of your life.
May those in whose love you live
Be blessed by your witness. Amen.
Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
The New Jerusalem Bible. 1995, c1985. Includes indexes. Doubleday: Garden City, N.Y.