Reader: “Now repent of your sins and turn to God,”
Response: “so that your sins may be wiped away.”
Scripture: Act 3:17-4:4
“Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things. Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets. Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people. Listen carefully to everything he tells you.’ Then Moses said, ‘Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from God’s people.’
“Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today. You are the children of those prophets, and you are included in the covenant God promised to your ancestors. For God said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants all the families on earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up his servant, Jesus, he sent him first to you people of Israel, to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways.”
While Peter and John were speaking to the people, they were confronted by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees. These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead. They arrested them and, since it was already evening, put them in jail until morning. But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of men who believed now totaled about 5,000.
Reader: “The word of the Lord,”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
In following up on yesterday’s comments, Peter picks up that same discussion in his sermon at Pentecost. The people he was speaking to, like many people today, are ignorant of Jesus. In Peter’s day, they killed Jesus. In our day, people effectively kill Jesus by ignoring his death, resurrection, and ascension. His death likewise means nothing to them. Peter proclaimed to the people that God was fulfilling the words of all the prophets regarding the suffering of the Messiah. It wasn’t as though they had had no warning in regards to the Messiah. Peter then reiterated Moses’ esteemed words from Deuteronomy where he spoke of God raising up from among the Jews the ultimate Prophet meaning Jesus. Failure to respond to this Prophet meant being cut off from God. Peter let the people know that they were in the waiting period for the Son of God to return for the final restoration of all things, as are we.
From the time of Abraham through today, God intends to bless all nations through the people of Israel. Of course, there has always been resistance to the gospel as we read how the religious leaders were very disturbed at the message of Peter and John. The message of the gospel did not fit their narrative of how things should be. The nature of the truth moves everyone off center both then and now. And, there is often a price to pay for proclaiming the truth. As you are in various settings this Advent season, do not shy away from speaking the truth. It’s too important.
Music: “O Come, Let Us Adore Him” Voctave (I admit, this is a repeat from last year!)
I kneel before you Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of the glorious riches of Jesus, he may strengthen me with power through his Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray that I, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. This I pray through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
―adapted Daniel Sharp, the Apostle Paul, Eph. 3:14-19