Acts 2: 22 – 41 Peter addresses the crowd – Part 2

Acts 2: 22 – 41 Peter addresses the crowd – Part 2

‘Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:

‘ “I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, Because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay.

You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence..”

‘Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

‘ “The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’ ”

‘Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.’

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’

Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.’

With many other words he warned them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptised, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

*       *       *

Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.

I imagine Peter reminded them of specific miracles; the lame walking, the blind seeing, lepers cleansed and the dead raised to life. There would have been people in the crowd who had witnessed one or more signs, and as Peter spoke, they would have remembered. Whispers would have gone through the crowd; “I saw that!”

This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge.

This is a key statement. Jesus was handed over to the Jews as part of God’s deliberate plan. Whether we view this as directly inspired by the Holy Spirit (which I do, personally) or as a statement of the belief of the church in its earliest days, the point being made is this: God handed over Jesus; he did not will Jesus’ crucifixion. Note as well that Jesus is referred to as “This man”; not “This God”, or this “This Son of God”, but “This man.”

…and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

The responsibility for Jesus’ death lies with humankind.

It was a common man, Judas, who betrayed Jesus. It was the Jewish religious authorities who fabricated criminal charges. It was a crowd of citizens who demanded the release of the murderer and rebel, Barabbas. It was the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, a Gentile, who condemned Jesus to the cross. It was Roman soldiers (Gentiles) who crucified him, while people from all nations mocked.

Judas could have chosen not to betray Jesus. The members of the Council who were sympathetic to Jesus could have supported him during his ministry rather than being talked down. The crowd could have called for Jesus to be released. Pilate could have defied the crowd and released Jesus, or kept him in protective custody. And the people who mocked Jesus as he suffered could have wept.

The original sin in humanity spreads through all nations and all classes of people. It mars each of us.

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.

Jesus suffered the worst that humanity could do – desertion, betrayal, torture and death – and God raised him to life again. And Peter says “and we are all witnesses of it.”

Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.

The crowd can see the apostles overflowing with joy. They can hear the many different languages being spoken by the apostles. They can see God working, and they can understand their own part in opposing God’s will.

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’

Those who were called by God realised that the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit came from God. For them, suddenly, the most urgent question in the world was, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’

Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.’

This was the start of the outworking of the new covenant. God called those early converts to take personal responsibility for their sin, and repent of it, just as he calls us today.

We all fall short. It’s part of our human nature. God doesn’t hate us for it, but he does want us to work as hard as we can to overcome our sin. And that is because sin harms us, and harms those around us. God loves us; he doesn’t want us harmed, and he doesn’t want us to harm others. Once we have repented, we need to live in his love. We need to follow Jesus. We need to obey his command, ‘Love each other.’

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you for your gift of the Holy Spirit. Please help us to live as much as we can in your love, to be aware of your presence, and to listen to and obey your words.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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