Christ is Risen!
The word of the day is “wonders.” As the current pandemic crisis continues, we are experiencing what it means to say, “The world is turned upside down!” But the upset of our world during these days is nothing compared to the effect of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today in our reading of Acts 2:14-21, Peter speaks of the wonders that accompanied the descent of the Holy Spirit. He quotes from the Prophet Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit in those days and they shall prophesy. I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath, blood and fire and vapor of smoke” (OSB vs. 18-19).
The Wonder of Wonders
Despite the miraculous events of Pentecost, the Cross and Resurrection is the wonder of wonders. When the Lord Jesus died on the cross, “The earth quaked. The rocks were split, and the graves were opened…” (OSB Matthew 27:52). And when the women went to the tomb on Pascha morning, “Behold there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone from the door” (OSB Matthew 28:2).
The marvels of Pentecost are founded on these wonders and the greatest of them all is the rising of Christ from the dead. The descent of the Holy Spirit could not have happened until the Lord had completed the most decisive triumph of history. Once and for all, He defeated the powers of sin, death, and the devil, “trampling down death by death.” Then He ascended to Heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. Then and only then could the Spirit be given to empower the disciples to proclaim the message of the Cross and Resurrection.
The Rocks Were Split
Note that at Jesus’ death, the Gospel writer Matthew says that the “rocks were split” (OSB Matthew 27:52). The rocks of the tombs were “cleaved asunder” or “torn apart” (Strong’s, 4977, 245). As a result, the bodies of the saints who were held captive in the graves were raised and released from their stony prisons. This was a sign of the effect of Jesus’ death, for by it He defeated death and rescued the saints of old from Hades.
Yet, there is another meaning to the cleavage of the rocks at Jesus’ death. The death and resurrection of Christ split history in two as surely as the rocks were split open at the crucifixion. For Christ, death had no more dominion (Romans 6:9). And for those who are in Him, corruption no longer reigns (Romans 6:11). For those who believe, the old order of this world has been overturned. For us everything has changed as Paul said, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (NKJV 2 Corinthians 5:17).
For us, the world has been turned upside down. Nothing is the same. But are we thinking, acting, and living as if it is?