Third Sunday of Easter – April 14, 2024

Posted on April 15, 2024, Pastor: Pastor Lara Forbes

Sermons are preached within the context of a particular worship service, and are most meaningful when experienced in that way. We encourage you to view or listen to the entire worship service. 

April 14, 2024

Third Sunday of Easter

Acts 3:1-16
Mark 6:53-56

Worship Service Video Sermon Video Sermon  Audio

Sermon Text:

Grace to you and peace from our risen Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

On the Sundays after Easter, our readings are all about the early church. How the apostles responded to the risen Christ and to the Holy Spirit as they were commissioned as witnesses of Jesus in the world.

Last Sunday, Jean and Doug did a fantastic job setting that up for us – wondering about the questions the apostles might have asked, the stories that they held onto and told, and how they lived into Jesus’ commission. Reminding us that it’s our commission, too.

Our reading today picks up about 10-ish days after last Sunday’s. We skipped story about the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit lands on the apostles – we’ll come back to that later on in May when we celebrate it on the scheduled day of Pentecost on the church’s calendar.

But where we left off, the disciples had been told to wait. And in our story today, they don’t have anything holding them back. They have received the Holy Spirit and are free to go and bear witness in Jesus’ name, which is what Peter and John do. But maybe not what they set out to do. They were just going to the temple to pray and then everything changed.

This is very much an Easter story. The power of the resurrection was revealed in Peter’s and John’s faith, and then in the man who was born lame as he was made strong and able to walk. And once it was revealed in the man, there was no containing it. Everyone around them knew what had happened.

When we talked about this reading in Bible study last week, we all – me included – talked about this man’s healing. That when Peter took him by the hand and he was able to walk, he had been healed.

I read this reading several times after that discussion as I was studying and preparing for today. And I noticed that the NRSV, the Bible translation we use in our bulletin, never uses the word “healed” or “healing” to describe the miracle this man received in being able to walk after being born lame. He was simply made strong and able to walk.

And that might seem like a minor detail or even like I’m splitting hairs. But I checked several other translations, and none of them say that this man was healed. In each one, he was made strong and able to walk. The fact that the word “healing” isn’t used speaks volumes about who the man was before God – that he was enough as he was.

But he wasn’t able to live the full life God intended for him because of the way society related to him. It’s likely that his condition was understood to be a form of punishment, that God had withheld blessing from him for some reason.

And he was defined by the fact that he couldn’t walk. That’s how he was known. People who passed him on their way would say, “Oh, there’s that guy who can’t walk.” That was his identity.

The only way he could make a living was to beg – that was the basis of his interactions with people. And he had to rely on friends or family to bring him to the temple gate every day so that he could do that. But for all intents and purposes, he was excluded from day-to-day life.

And the fact that his encounter with the risen Christ, through Peter and John, led to his being able to walk is a miracle to be celebrated. But if we only focus on that, we still ignore him as a person and attach his identity to how he physically moves through the world.

[1]As Christians, we are witnesses of a resurrected Jesus who has all his scars. And living a resurrection life is about people living a full life now, today. Being included as they are. That’s the life Jesus invites us into. A life that accepts people as they are, their whole selves. A life of community, as part of a community, that works to include everyone in all aspects of our lives. That’s where the miracles happen.

I still have an account on X (formerly known as Twitter), and I receive a lot of notifications from accounts that I don’t follow. Normally I just “swipe right” and ignore them. [2]Last week, I received one from the Washington Military Department, which I’d never heard of. And I was getting ready to swipe right, but the preview was:

“Can you imagine eight blind people trying to cram themselves under a door frame in an earthquake? We would topple like dominoes!”

And it sounds funny, but it’s completely serious. It’s the opening sentence of a blog post titled Preparedness is for Everyone about lessons learned from teaching disaster preparedness to young adults who are blind or have low-vision at the Learning Independence for Today and Tomorrow program at the Washington State School for the Blind in Vancouver.

Among other things, the instructors from the Washington Military Department learned that simply translating disaster preparedness information into braille is fine for the short-term. But eventually the raised dots can break down and become hard to read.

So, their conversation with the participants in this program was quite candid because the participants wanted and needed to know how to navigate earthquakes and extreme weather and all the other things Washington state might throw at people. How do they access information, what does an emergency preparedness kit look like for them? Those kinds of things.

And the lessons that the instructors learned all came back to accessibility for everyone, not just for people who have limited or no vision. And it made them consider that what a lot of people take for granted doesn’t work for people who move through the world differently – physically, cognitively, and otherwise – and that possible solutions aren’t always obvious or as good as we think they might be.

I share this not to make anyone feel bad, but as an example of where people’s attention tends to land – or not.

[3],[4]And I also share it with the admission that my attention doesn’t always land where it should.

And recognizing a person as a whole is part of our commission as witnesses to the risen Christ.

As we think about all of this, especially in the Easter season, we remember that we’re witnesses of a resurrected Jesus who has all his scars. And that’s important. [5]Because even with its scars, [and maybe even because of its scars,] Jesus’ resurrected body still has a story to tell. And that story remains even today, because Jesus’ scars don’t diminish the good news of his resurrection.

When the apostles told people about the risen Christ, they shared stories about the things he taught them, the people they met, the lives that were changed. But they also shared stories about their own mistakes, and the fear they felt about Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion.

And they shared, too, about his resurrection – about how they touched his scars, the places where he was wounded and broken. And how the power of life that Jesus brought into the world was still transforming people’s lives.

[6]Easter, [Christ’s resurrection,] isn’t about the creation of an idealized body. Damaged, sick, weary, and broken bodies still manifest the image of God and still testify to God’s power. We all have struggles and griefs that shape who we are, and in our witness we point to our own scars as we share how the power of Christ’s resurrection manifests itself through the memories and hopes we carry.

We aren’t told how the man in today’s reading shared his story. But you can bet that he pointed to his feet and ankles as he did it.

We share that power, that hope, as part of our identity. As we share it with others, it helps shape their identity. And as others share their experiences of resurrection hope and glory with us, the fullness of life that resurrection brings to all people becomes manifest. And everyone is able to experience it as they are.

That’s what resurrection life is all about. That’s the life the risen Christ commissions us to live, and it’s the life he invites us into. Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Amen.






[6] Ibid