The Power and the Name, the Healing and the Love: Easter 4B

The foundation of the church is the love of God for us. Its walls are built of our love for one another. And the fairest crowning stone of those walls is the example of Jesus. And yet those walls are always crumbling, always in need of repair. As an institution we are frequently no better than the Temple before us, and occasionally worse. We are never the ideal apostolic community. And yet, as a community, we are called and healed in the name of Jesus, by whose power and in whose name God enables us every day to love one another. The Father sent him to lead us, and he did not flinch from giving his life to bring us together with all of our brothers and sisters. And so we are, through all of our inadequacies, because God knows something greater than our failures: God knows love for us.

Acts 4:5-12
Before the utopian community of Solomon's Portico comes an inquiry with the Temple authorities. And it's not officially about what Peter and John were preaching: Jesus and the resurrection from the dead. The official cause of the inquiry is what they have done a chapter earlier: healing the crippled man who used to collect alms at the Temple gate people called "well-formed," or "comely." And this is the inquiry and their defense.
And it happened on the morrow that the primates and the elders and the scribes convened themselves in Jerusalem, along with Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and Yochanan, and Alexander, and as many as were from the high-priestly lineage, and after standing Peter and John in their midst, they asked them, "In what sort of capacity, or in whose name, did you do this?" Then Peter, who was filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Primates of the people and elders, if we are being examined today on the grounds of benevolence for a weak person, as to how this same person was healed, let it be known by all of you, and by the whole people Israel: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead -- by this one he stands, sound of body, before you. This same one is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders -- the stone that became the pinnacle of the corner. And there is healing in no one else, nor is there another name under the sky that has been given among people, by which it is necessary for us to be healed."
1 John 3:16-24
Continuing on in our reading of 1 John, we come to the exhortation that follows John's definition of love. Which we have skipped! But the love that we have is like the love that Christ had for us, just as love for John (in an ethically relevant sense, and bounded by the community of faith) is always love for one's siblings. It is, in this way, the proper reflection of the love our Parent has for us, which we emulate as children.
We have known love by this: that that One gave his life on our behalf -- and we are obliged to give our lives on behalf of our siblings. Now, whoever has the stuff of worldly living, and discerns that their sibling has need, and closes off their sympathy from her -- in what way does the love of God dwell in them?

Offspring, let us love, not by speech or language, but with deed and truth, and we will know by this that we are of the truth, and before God we will persuade our hearts that, should the heart know something against us, God is greater than our heart and knows everything.

Beloved, should our heart know nothing against us, we have boldness before God, and we receive what we ask from God, because we observe God's commands and do what is pleasing before God. And this is God's command: that we should trust in the name of his son Jesus Christ, and should love one another just as he commanded us. Those who observe his commands dwell in Christ, and he in them, and we know that he dwells in us by this: the spirit that he gave to us.
John 10:11-18
There is a plan, here. We belong to Jesus just as we belong to the Father, and Jesus has been commanded to come and lead us, just as he will go and lead others, that in the end there may be one flock. It will take his life -- and he will give it up gladly, and the Father whose work Jesus does will give it back to him.
"I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd gives his life on behalf of his sheep. The employee is not the shepherd, and the sheep are not his own, and so when he discerns that the wolf is coming, he surrenders the sheep and flees, and the wolf snaps up the sheep and scatters them. You see, he is an employee, and it doesn't matter to him what happens to the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I recognize my own, and my own recognize me -- just as the Father recognizes me and I recognize the Father -- and I give my life on behalf of the sheep. I also have other sheep, which are not from this fold; it is likewise necessary for me to lead them, and they will hear the sound of me, and there will be one flock and one shepherd. The Father loves me because of this, that I give my life, and so I shall receive it again. No one takes it away from me; instead, I give it of myself. I have authority to give it, and I have authority to receive it again; this order I received from my Father."


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