Peter sees it – he gets it – the power and purpose of Christ’s resurrection, and the implications overtake him.
Peter in Acts here displays a certain trawlerman’s bluntness. The promise to a people and its children is now given again to them but also to ‘all those who are far away, for all those whom the Lord our God will call to himself.’ It is as if he realises, as he speaks, the full import of what he has been brought to believe. God has no chosen people – all are included in the promises. Peter had been brought up in Galilee to regard his village, tribe, people, as chosen and rightly so – but chosen for what? To be the heralds of a God in Jesus who loves and saves all! The boundaries have come down. Peter sees it – he gets it – almost as he speaks, the implications overtake him.
Peter later writes more leisurely about the dialogue in flower: it reveals, in the life of Christ, that God is not a retaliatory God of violence and threats, but a God through whose wounds, humanity is healed. Like sheep, humanity had gone so far astray – but now it has come back to the shepherd and guardian of its soul. How can these men and women write like nothing ever before? What inspired them to describe the impossible? It was what Christians later would describe as the Holy Spirit of God!
John describes in poetic prose the image Jesus presents of sheepfolds, sheep and shepherds, as a fitting one for the relationship between God and humanity. It tells us more about the kind of love which God has for humanity than any treatise. It also tells us about the nature of God’s care for humanity. In contrast to those who would lead humanity astray, God in Christ says: ‘I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.’ There can be no more life-giving dialogue than the one designed to give humanity the fullness of life – for that is God! This promise, this love-story, first told to a King and his people, is now revealed as meant for all peoples and all of creation. As Julian of Norwich said: ‘For the passion was a deed done in time by the working of love; but the love was without beginning, and is, and ever shall be, without end’. The dialogue of God’s love is eternally spoken, and this is now revealed to those who experienced Christ. No-one could invent this – without having experienced the impact of events we can now only describe as ‘meteoric’.