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The Third Sunday of Easter A, April 23, 2023

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The Third Sunday of Easter A, April 23, 2023

Peter is preaching in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.  He minces no words.  First his confession of the Lordship of Jesus rings out boldly and forthrightly: “God has made him both Lord and Christ…!”  Then his accusing finger of guilt stabs them in the heart: “…this Jesus whom you crucified.”  Peter’s preaching, full of the Holy Spirit, was driven all the way to the hearts of his hearers.  Their desperate situation was revealed to them:  they had killed the Messiah.  From the depths of their despair, they cried out, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter has a ready answer for them… He preaches the same sermon as Jesus, “Repent!”  “Repent and suffer the kingdom of God to be done unto you—that is, be baptized.”  Be baptized in the name of the very Messiah whom you crucified… Be baptized for the forgiveness of such sin… the forgiveness of all your sin… Be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit—that is, receive faith itself… faith that this Jesus whom you crucified is both Messiah and Lord.  Peter applied this promise to his hearers… he applied this promise to his hearers’ children… he applied this promise to those entirely out of earshot—those far away… he applied this promise to them because the Lord called them to himself.  Peter’s answer to their desperate question, “What shall we do?” turns them from looking to their own doings and instead to the hearing of, and the receiving of, the doings of God.

A similar existential crisis is worked among you, you who are the contemporary equivalent of the crowds gathered in Jerusalem.  As the Holy Spirit drives the Word of God through your ears and into your heart, you—like them—get caught out by the depths of your sin:  Your hands, too, are red with the blood of the Messiah.  Like those crowds, the desperate question bursts from your lips, “What shall we do?”  The answer given you is the same answer given them: “Repent!  Turn from your own doings and suffer God’s doings upon you!  Be baptized!  Have your sin forgiven.  Receive faith as the Holy Spirit works it.”  To be saved from this crooked generation is not your doing but the call of God.

Table Talk:  Discuss the existential crisis brought on by Peter’s preaching.
Pray:  Heavenly Father, repent me; turn me from death to life.  Amen

Acts 2:14a, 36-41 English Standard Version

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem,

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “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 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.