In 2009 a young girl was given a certificate of bravery by the New Zealand government. Her name was Abby Wutzler. She was on holidays with her family in Samoa enjoying themselves on the beach when the water suddenly began to recede back into the ocean. Abby was only 10 – in grade 4 at school – but the week before they had learned about tsunamis So she knew exactly what was happening and ran up and down the beach warning people to get to higher ground. Her own dad took some convincing. When she first yelled out ‘Tsunami!’, he thought she was being a little melodramatic! But when he saw a wall of water beginning to rise – he realised she was right, and they ran to safety. Abby’s knowledge and bravery saved many lives that day.
Peter, in the story from Acts 2 we read this morning,
Is like Abby – warning people about a coming event that affects us all.
You probably know the story.
It’s the day of Pentecost – 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead. His followers are huddled together in a home in Jerusalem.
Suddenly the room is filled with violent noise – tongues of fire appear over the heads.
Filled by God’s Spirit, they rush out into the crowd gathered for the Jewish festival and start speaking the wonders of God in languages they’ve never spoken before!
The crowd knew something amazing was happening – but they didn’t understand what!
And they cry out ‘We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongue. What does this mean!’
They’re like the people on the beach – they can see something amazing is happening, but they don’t get it.
Some are pretty sceptical! ‘They’ve had too much wine! – They’re still partying from the night before!’ (I’m sure our missionaries would love it if all they had to do was drink a glass of wine and they could speak their new language perfectly!)
They needed someone to explain it to them. So Peter does. And his message is SERIOUS, SOBERING and FILLED WITH HOPE!
THE DAY OF THE LORD
His message is SERIOUS
What they’re seeing happening – isn’t the effects of wine But a sign that the great and glorious day of the Lord has arrived.
He takes them back to one of the great Old Testament prophecies about that day – to the prophet Joel.
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy’
God had poured out his Spirit on the Apostles and these early believers, And they were declaring the wonders of God!
But those who heard them needed to take notice! This was a day not to be missed!
Throughout the Old Testament – in prophecies like this one from Joel – the Lord had told his people that there was a day when he would come to judge and save his people. And he warns them to be ready for that day.
Those who listened and turned to him – would find themselves welcomed by him with unimaginable joy and acceptance. For, those who come to that day, with their backs turned away from the LORD – would face his anger and final judgement on their evil and callous disregard of Him – the LIVING GOD. Peter tells us – that day is upon us – it’s SERIOUS – we need to sit up and take notice!
The crucified messiah
For what he says next – isn’t just serious,
It’s alarmingly, chillingly SOBERING.
For they had already missed the most important part of his coming – they had missed Jesus!
“22 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. 23 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.”
Do you see what Peter is saying?
It wasn’t as if they were like Abby’s dad – who didn’t get what was happening, and told his daughter she was being over dramatic!
No, you could be forgiven for that!
But Peter says – “You did something far worse than that – you didn’t just ignore Jesus,
You put Him to death – God’s chosen ruler – even more, God himself come in human flesh.”
It’s hardly surprising that when Peter gets to the end of his speech, we’re told ‘When the people heard this they were cut to the heart.’ It pierced them – they were deeply distressed. And so they should have been! That message is alarming and sobering.
Stop and think about that with me for a moment, won’t you!? For Peter’s message wasn’t just for them – It’s for us as well!
Peter hints at that, when he lays the blame on everyone in Israel: 36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
I suspect that the majority of the crowd who heard him that day, weren’t there at the time of Jesus’ trial – they weren’t calling out for him to be crucified.
But Peter says, “you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”
Did the fact that they weren’t there at Jesus’ execution make them any less guilty of his murder?
Peter’s answer is ‘No’
For they knew the stories about Jesus – they knew of his miracles and his teaching.
They should have seen the hand of God in those miracles, and in his teaching.
But nonetheless – they chose to ignore what they saw and heard.
Their silence and indifference made them just as guilty as those who called for his death.
- And the same is true for us.
So let me ask you this morning – What do you make of Jesus? Yes, I know that you’re here in church, But I know from personal experience that it’s possible to sit in church for years and still remain disconnected to Jesus. To consider him a great man – even God – but not turn to him as Lord – as Master of your life.
So I ask you, have you done that?
Please don’t leave here today without being sure of the answer to that question!
For it would be a terrible thing, wouldn’t it – to arrive before Jesus on that final day, and hear him say, ‘I never knew you.’?
Make sure you talk to Tania – or a trusted Christian friend – I know they would rejoice to talk this through with you.
For, here’s the good news!
Peter’s words may be very SERIOUS, and SOBERING.
But they are also FILLED WITH HOPE.
JESUS THE EXALTED LORD
For, what human beings meant for evil – God used for good!
Look with me at v.32:
“32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 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…. 36 Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
We crucified Jesus – God raised him from death to be our Lord and Messiah – our Saviour.
And although the time is very late for these hearers – there is nonetheless still time to repent and find forgiveness.
Still time, to receive the gift of his Holy Spirit – and enter into true life.
So, when they cry out to Peter and say “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter’s answer is: “Repent and be baptized, 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. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Really – they should have known – for Peter is simply telling them what Joel had already prophesied, when he says in v. 21
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
That’s a wonderful promise, isn’t it? Not just some, not if you’re worthy enough – Even if you are complicit in his murder – you can still call on is name. – This promise is to everyone! “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” And we’re told 3000 people that day heard, and put their trust in him for their forgiveness and salvation.
When the apostle Paul spoke about these things in 2 Corinthians, he said: “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation.”
The gospel message is SERIOUS and SOBERING, but even more, IT IS FILLED WITH HOPE! It is good news for us, And it’s good news for the world, that still has its back turned away from Jesus.
ADVENT – THE TIME OF MISSION
For TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION – and so it’s time for action. Just as it was then.
For, why did the Lord wait until that festival of Pentecost – to pour out his Spirit on his followers?
And why did he push them out among the crowd speaking the crowd’s heart languages that they could understand,
Surely because this was a message – not just for them, not just for the crowd, but FOR THE WHOLE WORLD.
And indeed the whole book of Acts shows us that.
For it is the story of how this message went from Jerusalem, throughout Israel, to neighbouring Samaria – and then to the whole world.
So it ends with Paul in Rome – yes, under house arrest – but as Luke says in his final words: “He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ – with all boldness and without hinderance!”
We live in the day of Salvation.
When Jesus next appears it will be to bring this whole world to a righteous end, To stand in judgement of the living and the dead.
Just as the crowd needed to hear Peter’s words then, Our friends and neighbours need to hear of Jesus now.
And we are the best chance that they have of hearing – for we have come to know the grace and goodness of Jesus – and they haven’t.
Like little Abby – we know what they need to hear!
Friends – I know how hard it is to do that – I am no natural evangelist – I wish I were!
But we mustn’t ever lose the longing for them to know, Nor stop praying for them, and looking for opportunities to tell them. Knowing that God has filled us with his Spirit – so we might know Jesus, and make him known. And filled by his Spirit, we look beyond ourselves to the world. For there is a world out there that needs to hear the truth about Jesus, and forgiveness and salvation.
That’s why CMS exists – it’s why M. has gone to the Middle East, It’s why over 200 CMS missionaries are serving around the world. Please, by your prayer and practical support – get behind their ministry!
The message of Jesus is SERIOUS, it’s SOBERING, But even more, IT’S FILLED WITH HOPE.
Like little Abby, Let’s take our place in proclaiming that message to a world that needs LIFE AND FORGIVENESS, The true life and forgiveness that only Jesus can bring.