Acts 10:39–42 (ESV) — 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.
There’s so much to love about this passage, but one that stands out is that God is at work in His redemptive purposes. The essence of God’s love is not wishful thinking, but active working – God has worked (and does work) to save sinners. Within that economy of God’s divine work, what strikes me is that He decides who He uses for what purposes. Why didn’t Jesus show himself alive from the dead to all people (verse 41)? Why to only the Jews and that, only a few Jews (namely the apostles and the 500)? I’m not sure. God has purposes, and what is crazy about those purposes is that it includes people that don’t really deserve to be included – at least in comparison to others. Were the Peter’s, the John’s, the James’s … etc the most qualified to start a revolutionary movement with? Were they the most qualified to see first hand the risen God? I’m sure a strong case can be made for – NO, THEY WERE NOT! But this is God’s mission, His purpose, and hence He does it according to His will.
Here’s what I love then – In God’s work, we all have a purpose that He determines. The implication is we never need to be envious and jealous. Never. Just be faithful. Just believe that God has us where He wants us. He calls us to a task and then equips us for the task. For Peter, the call was “come be a fisher of men” and the equipping was Jesus appearing first hand as the risen Savior. Not everyone would have that equipping, and then, maybe not everyone needed that equipping because not everyone will have the calling to give up their lives upside down on a cross as Peter did.
There is a tremendous freedom in being who God has made us and simply doing what He has called us to do. The truth is, our living doesn’t work well when we try to live other people’s lives. Trust in His sovereign election, not only in our salvation, but in our doings:
“not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses”
God assigns the roles we play.