Summary: EASTER 2(B) - April 7, 2002 - Even though mankind denies Jesus, God glorifies His Son for the single purpose that believers are forgiven.

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(Sermon of April 7, 2002)

ACTS 3: 12-20

When Peter saw this, he said to them: ?Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you dis-owned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus? name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you?even Jesus.

Dearest fellow redeemed and saints in the Lord,

Certainly you and I still rejoice and celebrate on this Sunday after Easter, enjoying the victory of Christ, our Savior over sin, death and the devil. We have before us one of the early sermons of the early apostles. We find that they follow a formula that is going to become quite familiar?a formula that states: these people sinned by putting Jesus to death, but God raised him again from the dead and their sins are forgiven. All this according to God?s plan. All this to fulfill what was to happen.

We heard in our lesson how the disciples were locked in the Upper Room, afraid on the first day of the week. We heard how Thomas did not believe until he saw Jesus face to face. We hear over and over again how the disciples were not quite sure about this resurrection. And Jesus, when he appeared to them, we?re told in the Gospel of Luke, ?He said to them, This is what I told you while I was still with you: ?Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms??(LUKE 24:44). This morning we look at the fact that God fulfilled his prophecy about Jesus. The fact is that God fulfilled all of his prophecies. We consider the fact that






Peter comes and preaches to the people. Now, he?s not going to let them off the hook for all the things that had just taken place. Namely, that Christ had been put to death. And we hear his words, his scathing remarks, pointing out their guilt to them. He says to the people, ?YOU handed him over to be killed, and YOU disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go.? Remember, Pilate had washed his hands of the affair, couldn?t find anything wrong with Jesus, but the crowd persuaded Pilate to have Jesus put to death.

And as if that were not bad enough, we?re told, ?You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.? And Barrabas was set free, a known criminal. Then Jesus was sent out to be crucified on the cross. Peter continues, ?You have done this, ?you killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.?? Peter says, ?We testified to this very fact that you killed the author of life, that you put to death he who created life, itself? We can almost picture Peter pointing his finger and saying, ?You, you, you did all of this!? Because the Jews always tried to hold themselves blameless. And yet they, who knew better because of all the prophecies that had been made, denied Jesus, the Savior. Denied him so much that he finally was put to death.

We might be tempted to say to ourselves, ?Well, I?m glad I?m not one of those members of that crowd--of that Jewish nation who has denied the Lord. And yet, when we look at our lives we realize that we, too, are ones that Peter could point a finger at and say, ?You have done the very same.? Because there are times when we have remained silent when we should have spoken up. We should have testified about our faith. But, it is easier to remain quiet, especially in a society that says there?s all kinds of religious freedom and yet, if we don?t say those things that are politically correct, we can take lots of grief because of them. We know the truth is still the truth. And so, Peter would come today and stand before us and say, ?You, too, have killed the author of life by your sins.? In Mark we are told, ?If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father?s glory with the holy angels?(MARK 8:38). These are the words of Jesus, already recognizing thousands of years ago in a society that was much simpler than ours?he calls that an adul-terous and sinful generation. Certainly it hasn?t gotten any better. Let us not be ashamed of Jesus and his words.

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