• Steven Marsh

Peace–What Does Salvation Look Like?: a Reflection on Acts 2:42-47 and John 10:1-10

On this Fourth Sunday of Easter, the good news is that Jesus being raised from the dead is not to improve the improvable; not to perfect the perfectible; not to teach the teachable; but to raise the dead.[1] Jesus was raised from the dead so that we too can be raised from the dead, both now and for eternal life. Jesus is here and wants to raise each one of us from some aspect of being dead. May your sense of awe and wonder be renewed, since God is in our midst.[2]

In Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson writes, “In all death penalty cases, spending time with clients is important. Developing the trust of clients is not only necessary to manage the complexities of the litigation…it’s also key to effective advocacy.”[3] Apart from Jesus Christ, we are condemned in our sin. On the cross, Jesus represented humanity and redeemed us from our death sentence. We can trust Jesus as our advocate.

Jesus being raised from the dead established a common ground for all humanity. Salvation is ours to be experienced. What does salvation look like? Well, we gain insight to the answer of this question in Acts2:42-47 and most particularly John 10:1-10. Salvation heals, gives hope, rebuilds lives, and invites us to participate in God’s mission. Salvation offers a vision of a community committed to mutual support; a group gathered in one heart and one soul in which no one claims private ownership of any possessions; and as much as possible is held in common.[4] God is faithful to God’s covenantal promise and we as the church are to demonstrate a stewardship of our resources for the betterment, that is, the salvation of others. Salvation demonstrates loving God and loving others.

When the infamous September 11 airplane barreled into the Pentagon, Officer Isaac Hoopii was nearby but outside the building. Immediately he began helping people straggle out of the building—in some cases, carrying them out. But Hoopii wanted to do more. Wearing only his short-sleeved blue police uniform—no mask, no protective coat, not even a handkerchief—he ran into the inky blackness of the Pentagon. Someone yelled at him to stop. “We gotta get people,” he shouted back. Suffocating on smoke, Hoopii heard the building cracking. He called out, “Is anybody in here? Anybody here?” Wayne Sinclair and five coworkers were crawling through rubble and had lost all sense of direction when they heard Hoopii’s voice. They cried out, and Hoopii responded. “Head toward my voice. Head toward my voice.” Following his voice, Sinclair and the others soon made their way out of the crumbling building.[5]

The cross and resurrection demonstrate God loving humanity and giving his life for humanity. That is what salvation looks like. Jesus says, “Head toward my voice.”

Hearing and heeding Jesus’ voice is critical for seeing what salvation looks like. First, Jesus heals in some way shape or form in each salvific act. John 10:9 reads, “I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” Placing your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is a salvific act. Trusting Jesus to meet you in your addiction and to walk with you in it and out of it is a salvific act. Second, there is a thief of healing who only exists to steal, kill, and destroy salvation. The Evil one tempts us with false saviors. And when we succumb, the thief steals love, joy, peace, and hope. Do not forget “…we are primarily spiritual beings having a human experience.”[6] Fear is a most powerful thief.

What does salvation look like? Love wins. Death loses.

[1]Idea gleaned from Robert Farrar Capon, Between Noon and Three: Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997), 129.

[2]This concept was discovered while reading Timothy B. Hare in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 2 (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 429.

[3]Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy (New York City, New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2014), 95.

[4]Idea gleaned from Timothy B. Hare in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 2, 427.

[5]U.S. News & World Report (12-10-01), 24-32.

[6]Teilhard de Chardin as referenced by Shannon Michael Pater in David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Feasting on the Word, Year A, Volume 2, 444.

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