Text: Acts 2
In the Gospel narratives, we have seen Peter
by the sea of Galilee, being called from his fishing nets
on mount Hermon, witnessing Christ’s transfiguration
on the mount of Olives, seeking to defend Jesus with his sword
in the garden of Gethsemane, sleeping while Jesus prayed
in the courtyard of the high priest’s house, denying his Master
back by the sea of Galilee, gently restored to fellowship with the risen Jesus
But look at him now!
1. Obedient to the will of Christ. Not long before, Jesus had been plainly teaching that he must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. What did Peter do? He took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him.” But now look at him. Jesus has said, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” What happens? Impatient, impulsive, self-reliant Peter stays in Jerusalem, and waits, and prays.
Let’s look at ourselves. Jesus says, “Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and do not do what I say?” What he says about obedience is not written is not small print, but is written in bold on the front of the contract.
My gracious Lord, I own thy right
To every service I can pay:
And call it my supreme delight
To hear thy dictates and obey.
2. Proclaiming the message of Christ. Not long before, Peter had denied three times that he even knew Jesus. He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” Now look at him. Jesus says to the disciples, “You will be my witnesses, beginning in Jerusalem.” Obedient to this command, Peter stands up and speaks. He doesn’t focus on himself, nor on the miraculous signs. He focusses on Jesus, a man accredited by God, handed over and put to death, yet raised from the dead because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 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. “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
He explains, argues, reasons, persuades, pleads, warns, convicts.
What about us? In a world that is threatening to become as hostile to the real Jesus as those who first put him to death, will we stand up and be counted, will we cling to the old truths of the gospel, will we proclaim the message of Christ faithfully and boldly.
I will not boast in anything,
no gifts, no power, no wisdom;
but I will boast in Jesus Christ,
his death and resurrection.
3. Empowered by the Spirit of Christ. Not long before, Peter had slept while his Master was in the depths of sorrow and anguish. Jesus had said to him, “You want to do what is right, but you are too weak.” But now look at him. First, a sound like a hurricane, a sight like tongues of flame, the ability to speak in foreign languages he has never learned. Then, Peter stands up with the other disciples and speaks with a new power, an authority, a boldness because he has been filled with the Holy Spirit. ‘When the people heard what Peter said, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.’ And Peter discovers that God is able to achieve infinitely more in one day than we can achieve in a whole year by our own efforts. About three thousand were added to their number that day.
Let’s look at ourselves. It’s easy for us to be discouraged, because we realise that our spiritual power is a barely smouldering ember compared with the forest fire that blazed on the day of Pentecost. But take heart: Jesus said that he will not extinguish that smouldering ember. And he said that the heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. Through Peter God offered the gift of the Holy Spirit even to those who had put Jesus to death: “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”