The Church is Born – Day 7

Acts 2:22-41

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
    for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
    my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
    or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
    you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

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

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.

I’ve worn glasses or contact lenses since I was in elementary school. Though my vision started declining early in my life thankfully it has remained pretty much the same for the last 25 years. And despite the fact that it was about 34 years ago, I still remember the first time I put on a pair of prescription glasses; and even more than that I remember the reaction of my mother in the car on the way home from the optometrist.

Long ago (back in my day) there was no “one-hour glasses” option – or if it did exist, not one that we could afford. So after the eye exam you chose the frames you wanted and then wandered around blindly bumping into things for two weeks while they manufactured the lenses and fit them to the frames. You then went back to the store where you went through the rigamarole of putting them on and looking at the eye chart again and making sure they didn’t pinch your temples, and on and on and on. 

Compare that experience with my last two glasses purchases where I chose frames online, uploaded my prescription and then got a pair of glasses in 5 days. I’m much happier with the new way to be honest.

But, back to the story, the life-changing part of the experience came in the car on the way home.

I remember being absolutely amazed at how I could literally see everything.

My newly bespectacled eyes were transfixed by the world outside the car window. For the first time in as long as I could remember I could see every leaf on the trees, I could see squirrels and birds, I could read license plates and billboards, I finally knew what stores were on the other side of the parking lots that had been separating us, clouds actually did look like dragons and oak trees and beagles! Everything had become clear because of two silver-dollar sized corrective lenses.

But as vivid as my memories are of being able to finally see everything, I also remember looking over at my mother and seeing tears falling from her eyes as she realized how dim and blurry the world had been for me for so long. She was filled with joy as she listened to me describe everything I saw in high definition, but there was also a bit of regret because it had taken us so long to initiate this fix.

In our text, after Peter has preached Jesus to the people, their response is powerful. The Bible says that “they were cut to the heart” (v. 37). What is interesting is how Peter has been preaching, his approach in this sermon is not one that most of us would have taken. Peter spends a great deal of time focusing on the writings and anticipation of King David.

After quoting from the prophet Joel, Pastor Peter quotes the writings of David twice, making the point that David believed the promise of God centuries before it would ever come to pass. What Peter seems to be saying in this sermon is really simple: David and Joel saw Jesus before He was here, but you people couldn’t even see Him while He was walking around with you!

And suddenly it was as if the entire crowd had been given corrective lenses for the first time in their life! They saw what they had not been able to see. They perceived what had eluded them for so long. They realized that the One they’d rejected was really the One sent to redeem them!

And the response was a mixture of joy and regret.

But Peter’s words to them are not filled with condemnation, they are words of direction – or, to be more accurate, re-direction. He tells them, “Repent and be baptized…” (v. 38). Stop walking in your blindness and start living in the fullness of the new sight that you’ve received!

How many times have you heard the message? More than once I assume. 

How many times have you prayed the prayers? Same answer as above.

But now, how many times have you let that new life that you’ve heard about and prayed for actually change the way you live? Maybe not as often.

The old hymn tells us so beautifully, “I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” But the implied question is just as important as the declared truth: is my found-ness or my new sight changing my life in any real, practical way?

If I’d been give those glasses and only worn them on the ride home to see the trees, cars and robins they wouldn’t have actually helped me very much. 

But wearing them to school let me see the chalkboard clearly and learn more quickly.

Wearing them to baseball practice let me track ground balls and sliders so I could be a better hitter and fielder.It is in allowing the Gospel to reorient our everyday lives that we actually experience its power. That’s what repentance actually is – not simply feeling sorry for the blindness of your past, but pursuing with your whole heart the clarified vision of your future!

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