You had lost your friend, your mentor, the one you believed was going to change not just your world, but the whole word. You had watched him be arrested, falsely accused, face a sham trial, and be hung up on a cross until he died.
And just as you were beginning to come to terms with this, to realise that your hopes were dashed and your friend gone, something even more life-changing happens – his body was not there, indeed he was no longer dead. What is this all about?
Peter sets out to explain.
Acts 2:14a, 22-32 (CEV)
Peter Speaks to the Crowd
14 Peter stood with the eleven apostles and spoke in a loud and clear voice to the crowd:
22 Now, listen to what I have to say about Jesus from Nazareth. God proved that he sent Jesus to you by having him work miracles, wonders, and signs. All of you know this.23 God had already planned and decided that Jesus would be handed over to you. So you took him and had evil men put him to death on a cross. 24 But God set him free from death and raised him to life. Death could not hold him in its power.25 What David said are really the words of Jesus,
“I always see the Lord
and I will not be afraid
with him at my right side.
26 Because of this,
my heart will be glad,
my words will be joyful,
and I will live in hope.
27 The Lord won’t leave me
in the grave.
I am his holy one,
and he won’t let
my body decay.
28 He has shown me
the path to life,
and he makes me glad
by being near me.”
29 My friends, it is right for me to speak to you about our ancestor David. He died and was buried, and his tomb is still here. 30 But David was a prophet, and he knew that God had made a promise he would not break. He had told David that someone from his own family would someday be king.
31 David knew this would happen, and so he told us that Christ would be raised to life. He said that God would not leave him in the grave or let his body decay. 32 All of us can tell you that God has raised Jesus to life!
God has set him free from death. That is never going to hold his son and his life. But this means something really powerful to those who follow him. The death, and especially the resurrection, shows, not just the power of God, but his love and care for us. Because Jesus died and has risen, God is with us. He doesn’t leave us, even in the grave. We have hope, the hope of God who is beyond death. There continues to be nowhere that we can go where Jesus hasn’t been – and hasn’t brought new life.
Yes, the grave is a reality of life, but it is a place Jesus has been and brings his life. Because he has risen, he continues to be alongside us in all we face, day by day. In our joys, but also in our struggles, our pain, our desolation, our confusion, our disappointments, and in those oh so ordinary days.
That is what watching his friend die, totally unwarranted, meant to Peter, what brought him hope. It continues to be that hope for me today, and it can be for each of us.
Jesus knows everything we go through. He lived every human emotion himself. Unlike us, he has been there, done that – and come back again, but he continues to stand alongside in absolutely everything our life contains. He is my hope, the one that keeps me going, because I know he knows. And for that I thank God.
And if that all seems a bit ‘me’, maybe it is. Because we have to know where we are, what God means, before we can begin to tell others.