3rd Sunday of Easter [by Prarthini Selveindran]

Anglican lectionary:
Catholic lectionary:
1st Reading
Zeph 3:14-end
Acts 3:12-19
2nd Reading
Acts 3:12-19
1 John 2:1-5a
Luke 24:36b-48
by Prarthini Selveindran, Singaporean A Rocha volunteer


Zephaniah 3:14-end

Context: Zephaniah offering hope, speaking for the humble remnant who will seek refuge in God and who are thus rescued by him. Here we have an announcement of salvation that was being looked forward to: where the LORD is doing a new thing among his people.

This particular passage is characterized by a summons to sing: boldly and aloud!

  • A new song of salvation: of joy and exuberance over God’s decisive and salvific actions
    • God has taken away judgement and cleared away enemies:
      • Twice repeated that God is with his people (v15, v17)
    • A promised future to look forward to, when God will enact justice: deal with oppressors (v19a), save lame and gather the outcast (v19b), transform shame into praise and renown (v 18, v 19c)
      • Significant, that God declares war on those who oppress others; in our context, this has implications on how we relate to the earth and our actions that prevent/deny others the access to healthy environments (including, how we use resources and our lifestyle choices that impact others)
      • We see here God’s heart for those who are marginalized and lowly, which should inform and affect how we relate to those who are dispossessed and on the margins in our own societies
  • incredibly in this song, it is not only Daughter of Zion, but God himself who is singing (“rejoice over his people with gladness…exult over you with loud singing”)
Psalm 4
  • Prayer of lament-complaint (note especially vs1-3 and the plaintive cries of “answer me”, “how long”) and of trust in God (vs 4-8).
  • Psalm about recognizing the devastating impact of sin and evil, but about orienting oneself towards God amidst that
    • Only through honest lament are these questions of justice able to surface; refusal to deny or censure pain/suffering/distress
      • Psalm reminds us of the need to bring such complaints to honest speech before God (but held in tension with being silent in submission, vs 4)
    • To that end lament is also an act of hope: resistance to accepting the status quo or injustice as the “way things are”, but rather active belief that God is capable of doing something new, or transforming the circumstances
  • Psalm carries themes of trust, confidence in and waiting for YHWH’S goodness, which should affect our way of living in this world
    • No recourse to other gods, act in faith (vs 3)
  • Language of ‘Lift up the light of your face’ (v6) echoes the Aaronide blessing of Numbers 6.24-26
  • “in peace…make me dwell in safety”: the idea that our security is to be found (not in wealth/material possessions/status/power) in none other than God
Acts 3:12-19
  • Here is the reminder that the God of Israel continues to be at work—just as he was from the very beginning (v 13)—and that he is at work through the Lord Jesus, the Author of Life, with power over death.
  • Peter’s sermon pronounces Jesus’ power to restore creation that is broken (here, the lame man) to perfect health (v 16)
    • The lame man is invigorated by God’s newness in resurrection life (v 8-9a), and is in some way a sign of this future full universal restoration of all creation (v20-21)
    • This claim in vs 21 of the restoration of all things is echoed elsewhere in Scripture (Eg. Matt 19:28-29, Eph 1: 10, Col 1:15-23) and signifies that God promises to restore, and not destroy, creation.
      • Salvation is thus presented as a comprehensive divine plan and purpose for the redemption of all creation
Luke 24:36b-48
  • Jesus communicates shalom (metonymic term for salvation); in the context of his death and resurrection, that understanding of shalom takes on a deeper, fuller meaning
    • The extension of shalom is fully embodied before the disciples; shalom as conveying that sense of security and blessing, wholeness and completeness.
  • The text rules out any notion of this being merely ethereal/spiritual event: the resurrection had a profound effect on materiality and physicality
    • Jesus offers two proofs of his physicality, post-resurrection: 1. Reference to hands and feet, flesh and bones 2. Capacity to eat food
      • These proofs are concretely physical, material, things of creation/the natural order
      • underscored with the text’s emphasis on i) seeing, and the ii) note that Jesus took and ate in their presence: disciples are authentic witnesses to this salvation fully, physically, embodied
    • This points to God’s own affirmation and desire to renew the physical created order: Jesus as first-born of this new creation


Matter Matters
  • Amidst a perplexing, disorienting, anxiety-riddled time, Jesus stands amidst his disciples and says, “Peace to you”
  • a vision presented of a wounded Saviour pronouncing and embodying salvation and shalom to his people
    • through this pronouncement, the disciples experience resurrection life, in recognizing the risen Christ among them
  • significantly, Jesus’ testimony of his renewed physicality signifies that the material order will be renewed
    • through his actions (the ‘proofs’ of his resurrection), Jesus affirms and acknowledges the created order: flesh, bones, hands, feet, broiled fish to satiate hunger
    • through his actions—Jesus shatters human categories of God’s action within his world and the disciples’ understanding of who God is; God has done a very new and remarkable thing!
    • the resurrected Christ is revealed in and through the created order (here, continuity is highlighted, elsewhere in the Gospel accounts, discontinuity—walking through locked doors—is emphasized)
    • God does not intend to rescue humanity from materiality, but perfect them in it: new creation inaugurated in the resurrection of Christ (see also 1 Cor 15)
  • Jesus’ resurrection shows that all life and matter in the age to come will be transformed; and that we are to anticipate the redemption of the whole creation
  • What does it mean for us to be Witnesses to these things?
    • To witness carries echoes of the OT, where Israel was called to be YHWH’S witness (see for eg., Is. 42, 1-6, 44: 6-8)
    • We are to tell and live stories as en-fleshed people of what this restoration and transformation to new creation looks like
    • So N. T. Wright says, “The resurrection of Jesus is the reaffirmation of the goodness of creation, and the gift of the Spirit is there to make us the fully human beings we were supposed to be, precisely so that we can fulfil that mandate at last. What are we waiting for? Jesus is coming. Let’s go and plant those trees.” [Jesus Is Coming – Plant a Tree!]
  • How will we ‘live’ the resurrected life today in the now and the not yet, embodying shalom amidst times that are perplexing, disorienting and even anxiety-riddled?
    • (recalling Psalm 4): Part of that would mean living in trust of God, reorienting how we live, and rejecting a narrative/principle of scarcity of material resources that governs our life
    • (recalling Zephaniah 3: 14-end): Part of that also means being willing to sing subversively, and more, to enact justice, especially for those on the margins of society


N. T. Wright on the significance of Christ’s resurrection for the created order and the task of the Church


Richard John Neuhaus discussing Christ’s resurrection and its import on the created order and environmentalism


An Easter prayer by Walter Brueggemann


by Prarthini Selveindran, Singapore