Sermon Date: April 23, 2017
Sermon By: Pastor Dale Raether
Scripture: Acts 2:14a, 22-32
Tell Everyone, Jesus Lives!
1. See their life through their eyes.
Our text reads: Men of Israel, hear these words! Jesus the Nazarene was a man recommended to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know. – Acts 2:22 As I mentioned earlier, Peter is addressing the same people, who had shouted for Jesus’ crucifixion. Notice how respectful Peter is. He calls them, “Men of Israel”. Peter was tying them to the Jewish patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to God’s promises of a Savior. The words “recommended to you by God” also show respect. God didn’t force Himself on these Men of Israel. Rather, He set Jesus before them as the Savior they were waiting for by means of his miracles, wonders, and signs.
Miracles, wonders and signs by the way are three different words to describe the same events, depending on what they did for the people, who saw them. For example when Jesus healed a paralyzed man, people called that a miracle, because it’s something only God can do, and so the healing showed Jesus is God. Or, when Jesus gave hearing to a man who was deaf, that was a wonder, because it made people go “wow”, and it showed them that God really does care when someone suffers. Signs emphasized that Jesus is the one, whom God wants everyone to put their trust in. Jesus’ greatest sign of all was when He raised Lazarus from the dead.
No one in Peter’s crowd could deny anything of this. Yet in spite of who Jesus clearly is and what He had factually done, Peter had to tell them: This man, who was handed over by God’s set plan and foreknowledge, you killed by having lawless men nail him to a cross. – I Peter 2:23 Peter is showing these people respect even in the way he points out their sins, because he also pointed out that before the creation of the world, God had planned that Jesus would die on the cross. And so if they hadn’t put Jesus on the cross, God would have found a different way. Hearing this enabled the crowd to face their sin. They hadn’t committed an unforgiveable sin. They were no worse than any other sinner, and Jesus’ death paid for their sins too. Peter proves that in our text. He told them: He is the one God raised up by freeing him from the agony of death, because death was not able to hold him in its grip. – Acts 2:24
Are you applying this to your “brick walls”? No matter how stubborn, obnoxious, or despicable someone is being, we can treat him with respectful kindness, because we’re never going to find a worse crowd than the one Peter was dealing with. Similarly, when we have to point out someone’s guilt to them, we’re not to rub it in their face, just to make sure he’s really, really sorry. Rather we can say simple, “You sinned when you…”, and then right after that we can do what Peter did. We can show them Jesus.
2. Show them Jesus.
We read on in our text: David says concerning him: I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. My flesh also will rest in hope, because you will not abandon my life to the grave, nor will you 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. – Acts 2:25-26 Looking at Jesus in His Word not only helps us understand our Savior, it helps us understand our selves and each other. Let me back up a bit.
Why had Peter’s crowd shouted, “Crucify, crucify”, on Good Friday? They wanted hope. They wanted hope from having to go to bed hungry on many nights, or from being sick with no one to help. They also wanted hope from oppression by the Romans or getting ripped off by the rich. Especially they wanted hope from everything always ending in death, and fear that the other side of death would be even worse than this life. When these people saw Jesus beaten and whipped on Good Friday, they lost hope in Him. That’s why they got angry and turned on Jesus.
There are a lot of people today, who have lost hope in God, and they’re angry or scared, which is why they sometimes act the way they do. Now, none of this justifies sin. Wrong is wrong. On the other hand, a person can get his hope back by continually looking to Jesus. He kept up His hope in that He always trusted that His Heavenly Father was with Him, even when He was being beaten, whipped, and nailed to cross. That took a lot of faith on Jesus’ part, didn’t it. In fact it took perfect faith. But now God credits the merits of Jesus’ perfect faith to you and to me and to every sinners. And this gives us hope! In fact Peter, in our Second Lesson, calls it a “living” hope.
“Living” hope is in contrast to, “I hope I win the lottery, otherwise I can’t pay my bills.” Our hope is living, because our Savior is living (and talk about a sign from God). Anyway, when all our guilt was heaped on Jesus, death grabbed hold of Him and dragged him into the grave, because that’s what guilt enables death to do to a person. But then by dying Jesus paid for all our guilt, and so death couldn’t hold Jesus anymore.
Take this to heart! Jesus’ love for you is so big, that He defeated hopelessness for you, by enduring hopelessness in your place. In other words God isn’t going to get mad at you or turn away from you, should your faith in Him be a little weak. Rather, all the more He keeps inviting us to look to Him, for just as He rose from the dead, we too will rise!
And now let’s apply this! Since God is going to put the molecules of our dust and ashes back together to form our body, the one we’re in now, we need not have any doubts or fears about what’s on the other side of the grave. Jesus put it up this way in Psalm 16. You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. – Psalm 16:11b. Again, Jesus was speaking about Himself here. But since He stood in our place as our Savior, you and I can claim His words as our words. And so, we might be facing the grave. We might be going through a horrible time. Yet we have this living hope, the Father will fill US with joy in His presence, with eternal pleasures at His right hand.
Since the Father is doing this for us, what hope do with regarding all the unfairness and evil in this life? Our hope is God will take care of it! Why, even the physical affects of sin, such as illnesses or any other miseries for that matter, God will take care of those things too, for He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things – Romans 8:32
Still, how can we keep our hope alive, when we’re in the middle of a hopeless situation? Well, don’t demand physical proof of God’s love. That’d be like Thomas, when he refused to believe, unless he could actually see and touch Jesus. Rather, through the word let’s keep looking to Jesus’ character, and to His miracles, wonders and signs, and to all that He did for us. Jesus promises that in this way He will guard our faith. And though He may test our faith, through His testing He will make our faith even more glorious and will increase in us the joy of our salvation.
Do you believe all these things? Or, at times have you been like a brick wall to Jesus? If you have a Savior and you have a better understanding of the people who are being a brick wall to you? So, how do you feel about those, who have been hurting themselves and others and won’t listen to you? I pray as blood-bought souls, because that’s what they are. On the other hand thinking of them as foolish and stubborn brick walls is the opposite of having respectful kindness for them in our hearts. But praise God, Jesus came to forgive us that sin too, and so all the more let’s make it our goal to do as much as we’re able, so that as many as possible will join us in crying out to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.”
And now let’s go back to those questions I asked at the start. Where do we draw the line between not arguing, and teaching with great patience? Or where do we draw the line between preparing ahead what we want to say to someone, and trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us? On that first one, if someone’s getting aggressive, for love’s sake, we’ll need to pull back until maybe another day, but that’s great patience, isn’t it. On that second one, love and trust moves us to do both – to ever learn God’s word as clearly and deeply as we can. And then when Holy Spirit puts someone in front of us, who needs God’s Word, we will trust the Spirit to help us strike while the iron’s hot.
And finally, how much is God really expecting each of us to say or do for advancing His Kingdom? Closely related is a question one of our elders asked recently. Where do you draw the line between testing God and walking by faith? At that moment my mind kind of went blank, so here’s my answer now. If you find out you’re having a new baby, you have joy, even if you don’t know how you’re going to pay for that baby or handle all the work, but you charge ahead in everything you have to do, because God is with you, and He is blessing. In the same way, we have joy in sharing God’s life-giving Word, even if we don’t know how we can handle everything or things get rough, because God is with us and He is blessing. In this spirit of Easter joy, let’s tell everyone we can, Jesus Lives! See their life through their eyes. Show them Jesus. Amen.
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