Acts 5 : 12 - 16 (NRSV)

Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico.(12) None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem.(13) Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women,(14) so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he came by.(15) A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.(16)

Comment

     The reading from Acts links Jesus' announcement of God's reigning with the practice of His first disciples. The 'good news' concerns not only what God has done in the past through the earthly Jesus, but also what God continues to do in the spirit of the risen Jesus through His present-day disciples.
     The author's account of the early Christian community links Jesus' announcement of the reigning of God with the practice of the apostles. The 'signs and miracles' that accompanied the disciples' announcement, on their daily visits to the temple in Jerusalem, evoke in the Hebrew listeners memories of the signs of the power of God to make things new! These signs are transformations parallel in scale with events like the birth that ended the long-standing barrenness of Sarah and Abraham. These "signs and miracles" match the interventions on behalf of the Moses Movement that began YHWH's liberating exodus from Egypt! In Jeremiah and Deuteronomy the phrase "signs and miracles" indicated that YHWH's covenant with the Hebrew people can't be relegated to the past!
     The narrative in Acts, like the ongoing interpretations of the Abraham/Sarah and Exodus stories, shows a community regularly filled with power and regularly in tension with the authorities. The "signs and miracles" worked by Jesus' followers are evidence that God's saving interventions are present through the practice of the apostles! The signs and miracles worked by Peter and the apostles after Jesus' death/resurrection, reaffirm God's transforming NOW in relation to this new community. They show God's work of blessing on humankind's behalf didn't end with Jesus death and resurrection - but continues in the life of the first Christian community.
     This evidence of "signs and miracles" in the early Christian Movement affirmed the success of Jesus' apprenticing His disciples in His settled instincts and performance skills of obedient covenant-keeping. Healing was an important part of Jesus' practice. Luke emphasises this in his gospel account. There is an essential continuity between Jesus' practice and that of the new community!
footnote:
[ Acts 5:12-16 ] This, the third summary portraying the Jerusalem community, underscores the Twelve as its bulwark, especially because of their charismatic power to heal the sick; cf Ac.2:42-47;4:32-37.

 

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