Acts 1 Reassessing Life
Between Easter and Pentecost, the disciples had a lot of thinking to do, a lot of reassessment. As well as the amazing change in their perspective, theology and everything else precipitated by the death and then the resurrection of Jesus (something they were still grappling with the implications of, as we see in Acts 1:6), they were having to come to terms with a more common, but still traumatic, human experience – the betrayal and then suicide of their companion, Judas. While John mutters darkly about Judas “helping himself” from the moneybag, it is clear from all the gospels, including John’s, that his betrayal was a real shock to the tight-knit group of disciples. The thought that someone so close (literally, one who shared the same crockery with Jesus – now doesn’t that suddenly seem an important detail, these days?!) could become a turncoat had clearly never entered their minds, as we see from Jn. 13:27-29.
So in parallel to the big-ticket theology stuff, they are going through a grief process: “I just can’t believe he could have done something like that”; “How could he?”; “What a tragic waste of life”… And what has Peter been doing to find help in this time? He’s gone back to Israel’s hymnbook, the Psalms, and in particular (we see in Acts 1:20), to two lament psalms of David – Ps.69 and 109 – both of which prefigure the “suffering servant” language of Isaiah 53 (etc), and both of which feature betrayal as part of the load which the sufferer has to bear.
When the UK eventually comes out of lockdown, it will be a time of joy, but it will also be one of grief for those we have lost during isolation (whether due to Coronavirus or otherwise) and of reassessment as we try to come to terms with yet another “new normal”. And like Peter found, comfort for that grief, and a mirror to hold up to our lives as we reassess things, are to be found in Scripture. The Spirit, in His wisdom, caused our forefathers to leave these words behind them, because He knew that we would face the same challenges that they did, and need the same wisdom they discovered. Technology may have changed, but human beings, and human emotions, remain much the same as in his or David’s time. So take time, in the vulnerability we all share at the moment, to linger in the Bible and may the Spirit minister His encouraging, revealing, sense-making Words to your hearts as you do so.