Thursday, April 22

Reader: “Now repent of your sins and turn to God,” 

Response: “so that your sins may be wiped away.”

Scripture: Acts 3:17-26    

(Peter is preaching to several thousand people outside the Temple.)

“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.”

Reader: “The word of the Lord.”

Response: “Thanks be to God.”

Some thoughts:      

You may recall from a few days ago our passage dealt with Peter and John healing a crippled man which created quite a stir. Peter then took the occasion to preach to a rather large Jewish crowd that had gathered. Today, we’re picking him up in the middle of his message.

Peter is explaining what happened concerning Jesus from God’s perspective. Peter has an interesting way to approach the people in telling them about Jesus. He doesn’t attack what they have done or believe, but he gives them the benefit of the doubt. He simply says that they were ignorant, they didn’t know or realize the truth of the situation and he will explain it to them. There is something to be commended in that approach. It is fair to say that most people in our day really are ignorant of who Jesus is. They may have specific ideas about him fashioned after their own thoughts, but are actually pretty ignorant of the Scriptures.

Peter appeals to the Torah and helps them understand that the words of Moses concerning the Prophet that was to come, actually refer to the Messiah, Jesus the Christ. Then comes his challenge to the people to repent of their sins, confess Jesus, and turn to God. The repentant heart will then experience a kind of refreshment from the Lord’s presence.

This is all pretty familiar territory as we read. We are reading about what happened back then in Peter’s day. I’d like to enlarge a bit on the next few sentences. There is the phrase “he will again send you Jesus your appointed Messiah.” In “Christianese” there are phrases we hear over and over such as “the already and not yet.” Our minds can easily slip into a kind of neutral gear and not give much more thought to the words. In truth, the phrase refers to the dynamic of the present moment. I’d like to dig a little deeper with this particular phrase because I believe it is apropos for these few sentences.

There is the immediate refreshment of having our sins forgiven. But there is the “already” reality that our Lord Jesus is in heaven, having ascended to the right hand of the Father. Then Peter gives us this timely sentence of perspective. “He must remain in heaven until the time of final restoration of all things as God promised long ago through his holy prophets.” The hours of this day are in the “not yet” time frame. 

At some point in the time to come, there will be that moment when God says, “NOW!!!” and all will be restored forever. Those “now” moments are truly more than we can comprehend when the “not yet” becomes the “already!”

There was a moment at creation, when God said, “Let there be light.” And there was. 

There was the moment God shut the door of Noah’s Ark and said to the rain, “Now!” 

There was the moment God said to the Red Sea, “Part now.”

There was the moment God said to the Holy Spirit, conceive the Son of God in Mary “Now.”

There was the moment Jesus said to Lazarus, “Come forth,” now!

There was the moment at the crucifixion when God tore the Temple curtain in effect saying, “Now―the work of redemption is finished.”

And there will be a moment yet to come when God will say, “Now! It’s time for the redemption of all things and Jesus will return again.” 

These words of Peter are as relevant to us today as they were to the people who listened to him preach. We are in the same place they were as we look forward to the restoration of all things. Live today with the perspective that God’s “now” can happen anytime. Did you notice, while he gives warnings sometimes, he never says when for the “now.” Only the Father knows. Be ready!

Music: “The King Shall Come When Morning Dawns”   St. John Cathedral Choir

The King shall come when morning dawns,

And light triumphant breaks;

When beauty gilds the eastern hills,

And life to joy awakes.

Not as of old a little child

To bear, and fight, and die,

But crowned with glory like the sun

That lights the morning sky.

The King shall come when morning dawns,

And earth’s dark night is past;

O haste the rising of that morn,

The day that aye shall last.

And let the endless bliss begin,

By weary saints foretold,

When right shall triumph over wrong,

And truth shall be extolled.

The King shall come when morning dawns,

And light and beauty brings:

Hail, Christ the Lord! Thy people pray,

Come quickly, King of kings.


 “O When Shall I See Jesus”     Fountainview Academy

Prayer: O Son of God and Son of Man, Thou wast incarnate, didst suffer, rise, ascend for my sake: Thy departure was not a token of separation but a pledge of return. Thy Word, promises, sacraments, show thy death until thou come again. That day is no horror to me, for thy death has redeemed me, thy Spirit fills me, thy love animates me, thy Word governs me. I have trusted thee and thou hast not betrayed my trust; waited for thee, and not waited in vain. Thou wilt come to raise my body from the dust, and reunite it to my soul, by a wonderful work of infinite power and love, greater than that which bounds the ocean’s waters, ebbs and flows the tides, keeps the stars in their courses, and gives life to all creatures This corruptible shall put on incorruption, this mortal, immortality, this natural body, a spiritual body, this dishonored body a glorious body, this weak body, a body of power. O God, keep me in this  faith, and ever looking for Christ’s return.   ―The Valley of Vision, p.27