Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:14a, 36-41: But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.’ Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’ And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
Summary – The first Lesson for this week is once again from Acts 2. This is the first sermon Peter preached on the day of Pentecost. This portion is the climax of the sermon. Peter’s conclusion is that since Christ was raised and has ascended, you should know certainly that God is made Him both Lord and Messiah. This left his hearers asking what they could do to be saved? And the answer was to repent and be baptized in Jesus name, with the explanation from Joel 2 still resonant: “For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” He exhorted them to separate themselves from “this corrupt generation” who crucified Jesus.
Insight – This is one of the most glorious passages in the entire New Testament. It is a section of the very first sermon preached in the Church. What a testimony to the power of the promised Holy Spirit to change human hearts only minutes after He descended from Heaven! We see His power in Peter’s restored courage: whereas before he shrank in retreat before a single servant girl, he now boldly proclaims the gospel into the faces of thousands of the men of Israel – the same men who [as he loudly points out] crucified Christ. He was right. Whereas before they preferred to see a murderer returned to their midst and the innocent Christ tortured to death on a cross, now their hearts were “smitten” and they cried out in desperate repentance. We are also given a gloriously vivid summary of the gospel: God has made Christ Lord; the only response to this is repentance and baptism in His name; that goes for you, your children, and everyone in the far-away world who will believe.
Child’s Catechism – Are children included in the new covenant promises? Yes, for the “promise is to you and your children and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.”
Discussion – Do you sense the power of God’s Spirit in your life – in courage to speak for Christ and in conviction for and repentance from sin? How did Peter set a good example of Spirit-empowered action?
Prayer – Our Father, we praise You for the gift of Christ and His Spirit. We praise You for the birth of Your Church and the glory of Your gospel, Your power. Cause us to understand and love Your gospel more deeply. Cause us to despise our sin and walk in repentant lives, worthy of a baptism in the name of the Shepherd Who has laid down His life for us, His sheep. Cause Your Church to continue to grow, glorious and unstoppable, as she has since her Pentecostal birthday. And make us greatly useful for Your service to that end every day of our lives. Amen.
Contributed by Ben Rossell