This psalm strongly affirms God’s goodness to us and gives Him praise and thanksgiving for His wonderful salvation. The psalmist may have had in mind Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, as well as personal experiences of God’s saving power.
Psalm 118 was written long before the time of Jesus, but it captures perfectly the joy of what God has done for us in raising Jesus from the dead and in giving us new life through him. “It is marvelous in our eyes. … Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Often people think of the resurrection as the climax in the story of Jesus. But in Peter’s preaching here, as elsewhere in the New Testament, much of the focus is on what came afterward.
Having been raised, Jesus continues to work in the lives of his followers. He sends them out to share the good news of forgiveness of sins through his name, and the power of the Spirit is seen at work in those who believe.
We know the Easter story as one of joy, but when we read the story we see also a time of fear and confusion. The guards were afraid of the angel of the Lord, and so were the women who came to the tomb.
Even after the angel told the women not to be afraid, and shared with them the wonderful news that Jesus was risen from the dead, they went with both fear and joy to tell the news to the disciples.
The chief priests had a different kind of fear – fear of what would happen if people heard stories that Jesus was alive. Whether or not they were confused themselves about what had happened, they were not interested in finding out and spreading the truth, but rather in continuing to oppose Jesus and his followers by whatever means necessary.