Summary: Jesus gives us salvation, but only if we repent and are baptized in his name. The Holy Spirit gives power to God’s people, the end times are here, the Messiah has come and a message of salvation must be preached.
The reading from Acts 2:14, 22-32 is part of the first sermon ever preached. It was in response to the disciples’ speaking in tongues on the Day of Pentecost. When the disciples spoke in tongues, some people in the crowd thought that they were drunk. Peter stated that this was not true because it was 9:00 in the morning.
If Peter was drunk with anything, he was drunk with the Holy Spirit. It allowed Peter to preach with conviction and faith. It allowed him to preach with the same boldness, courage and urgency that Jesus did. Peter preached Christ. He explained God’s gift of salvation, what people did to refuse it, what God did in spite of their refusal to accept his gift, and what would happen to those who would accept the gift.
Peter declared that God wants his people to live in Christ. Christ’s life, death and resurrection were part of God’s plan for his people, and they are still part of his plan for us today. God’s plan could not be stopped then, and it can’t be stopped now. The crucifixion was predetermined by God, but it did not absolve the guilt of the people who put Jesus to death. They thought that they had ended Jesus’ ministry, but death could not keep Jesus in the grave, and it could not stop his ministry.
Peter said that death did not have the power to hold Jesus because Jesus was no ordinary man. He was God’s designated Messiah. Peter backs up this claim by referring to Psalm 16:8-11, which speaks of one who will not be abandoned to hell or experience corruption. King David wrote that particular psalm, and since his body died and decayed, the Holy One mentioned in the psalm refers to someone other than the speaker. David saw Jesus as the one who would not be abandoned to hell and whose flesh would not experience decay. In other words, David knew that Jesus would rise from the dead.
All was not lost when Jesus died on the cross. On the contrary, things were just beginning. God raised Jesus from the dead, and Jesus will return one day to judge everyone. No one is beyond salvation, no matter how bad their lives are.
Everything that happened in Jesus’ ministry was part of God’s plan to reveal Jesus as the long-promised Messiah. God worked through Jesus. Jesus himself said that he could do nothing by himself. All of his teachings and miracles were the result of God the Father working through him.
The Holy Spirit fulfilled the prophecy of the prophet Joel. Jesus could not have sent the Holy Spirit if he was dead; therefore, Jesus is alive! Jesus could not have send the Holy Spirit unless he had ascended to heaven as the Lord. Therefore, we can know for certain that God made Jesus both Lord and Christ. If we believe in Christ, we must repent of our sins, believe in the Gospel and give ourselves to a life of following Jesus. We have received God’s grace, and therefore we have to give grace in our relationships with other people.
Jesus’ ongoing presence casts a light on depression, despondency, death and damnation. Jesus is the light that shines in our dark, sin-filled world. When we obey God, we know what the outcome of our lives will be. We know what will happen to us when we die. We can rest in the hope of eternal salvation.
If we are to believe in Jesus, we must do so by faith, including the confession of faith by those whose lives have been shaped by Christ. Peter’s sermon is a good example, because he and the other disciples were eyewitnesses to Christ’s teachings and miracles. Faith-both ours and the faith of others-invites us to enter into a relationship with Christ. Faith is an invitation to expand our memories and our lives to include him. Faith invites us to live in him.
The Holy Spirit is the unseen force that gives us our power. It guides us. For example, the Holy Spirit combined with the teaching of other learned pastors and scholars guides me when I prepare and deliver homilies. Hopefully the Holy Spirit works in each and every one of you as you listen to them. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to cope when life throws us challenges because the result will be eternal life with Jesus in heaven. Our adversities purify and strengthen us if they are met by faith.
The Holy Spirit also comforts us, especially when we travel through the dark times of our lives. It counteracts the pressures of our everyday lives. All we have to do is to know where the flow of the power is going and follow it. If we do, we can walk with courage and confidence. We would be like the elderly lady who was confined to a wheelchair and lived in a nursing home. One day she was visited by a very dignified pastor. As he stood to leave, she asked him to have a word of prayer. He gently took her hand and prayed that God would be with her to bring her comfort, strength and healing.