Summary: how the ministry of Christ took off after his baptism and how our’s does too
January 13, 2002 Acts 13:34-38
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
I grew up never knowing either of my true grandfathers. Both had died before I was born. Even though I never knew either of them, a part of me wanted to know. Since one of my grandfathers was a pastor and a District President of the W.E.L.S. in Wisconsin for a short time, I was able to do a church history paper on him while I was at the seminary. It was interesting for me to interview his associate in the ministry and his children and find out more about my origins. My other grandfather was more of an enigma, harder to get much info on. But within the past few months I have been able to find out some information on him as well. I don’t know why it is, but I really enjoy finding out about my origins.
Epiphany is a season where we see how Jesus was revealed as true God to the world - a time to trace his origins as He was revealed to the world as not just another man, but also true God. Last week we celebrated the first Gentile Christmas with the Wise Men coming to find Jesus. This was the beginning of Jesus being revealed to the world as the Christ. But this wasn’t where the Christian church of the Gentiles really took off, and it wasn’t where it ended.
Peter explains that for us today. He found himself standing in the household of Cornelius - years after the death and resurrection of Christ. It was a very strange sight indeed. Here Peter was - a Jew - inside the house of a Gentile - in Caesarea - way northwest for Jerusalem. What in the world led him here? A few days prior to this, Peter received a dream of a sheet falling from the sky - telling him to kill and eat reptiles and birds. Little did he know that when he awoke from this dream he would end up in traveling several days north to a town far away from home - in the house of Cornelius. How did this all come about? As Peter explains to Cornelius,
It All Began with Baptism
I. The baptism of John
Peter started out, You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached. Although Cornelius already knew the origins of this meeting, he reviewed it with Cornelius. It all started with the baptism of John. Several years prior to this John the Baptist stood out in the desert of Judea wearing camel’s hair. And when the people came out to hear his message, he told them to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” He called them sinners, reprobates, rebels deserving God’s wrath. When they repented of their sins, they were then baptized in the Jordan River for the forgiveness of sins.
To the world this would seem like a strange way to prepare for a new kingdom and a king. When someone wants to become president, he goes where the people are, tries to promise them great things and flatter them - and tell them great things about what he will do so they will accept him. But instead, John went out into a desert, ridiculed and judged those who came to him. He told them, “like it or not, this king is coming. And if you want to be ready for him, you had better change your lifestyles! If you don’t you will be condemned to hell!” To the world this seems backwards. They would say, “I’m not going out to the desert to be ridiculed. I don’t need some freak pouring water over my head and talking about the fire of hell!”
But God’s way has never been man’s. He brings us to life by putting us to death. He lifts us up by first cutting us down. The voice calls out to us from the desert of our conscience - “you’re miserable. You’re unworthy. You have been impatient. You have not obeyed your parents. You have not honored God’s Word. You deserve nothing but God’s wrath!” This message humbles us. It crushes us. You would think that such a message would drive us far away from God. It does with some. They just get angry with God and call him hateful and his preachers bigots. But with us, it drives us to look for answers, look for shelter from that wrath.