Written by: Evan Cowie, UF Student
Today, we heard Peter speak to the Jews. He’s honest with them – brutally honest. He tells them, “You denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death…”
That same Peter, who in the Garden of Gethsemane drew his sword and struck the high priest’s servant, now strikes the People of God with his tongue. He pulls no punches, leaves no uncertainty: the People of God have blood on their hands. Not just any blood, either: it is the Blood of Christ, the Son of the Living God, who was perfect and blameless. Take a moment, now, and dwell on the sorrow and bitterness of that profound injustice. Understand the complete failure of the People of God.
It’s been two thousand years since the historical event of the crucifixion. It would be easy to think that our hands are clean – that we bear no responsibility for the crucifixion. It would be comforting to think that Peter was talking only to those particular Jews, way back in the first century. He’s not.
Christ died for our sins. In each of our sins, we put Christ on the cross. It is our arms that scourge Him, our blows the bruise Him, our words and taunts and irreverence that pierce Him. Our cruelty and indifference that crucifies Him.
I want to emphasize this, because we often tend to downplay our sin and our guilt. We think “Well, I’m pretty good most of the time. I’m an alright person.” We tell ourselves that it’s not that bad – even when it really is. Our sins were so serious that they required a sacrifice of infinite value – the Blood of the Spotless Lamb – to be washed away.
Don’t stop reading here, though. Don’t despair, because Peter’s not done. There’s another half to that line that I haven’t mentioned yet: “…but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.”
What does this mean? That even though our sins put Christ to death, Death himself could never win! Jesus is not just the Paschal Sacrifice, but Conqueror, Redeemer, and Savior! For indeed, just as He died to true death, He rose to true life – today’s Gospel makes that clear. He arose, not as a ghost or spirit, but was resurrected bodily as well.. A true body of “flesh and bone,” and He showed them this by asking for food and eating. This resurrection from death is available to all of us – if only we are humble enough to admit our faults, to seek forgiveness, and to strive to amend our lives out of love for God.
John tells us in today’s second reading that even when we do sin, “We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.”Christ died so that we might have eternal life with Him – don’t let that sacrifice go to waste! Don’t let the death of Christ be in vain!
In this Third Week of Easter, let us remember that even though we put Christ to death by our sins, that death is not the end of the story. For even the gravest of our sins, the power of Death itself, could not triumph over the Son of God. In a flash of heavenly light that burned His image onto the burial shroud, He rose from death, and brings us with Him into eternal life!
Alleluia, He is truly Risen!