Summary: the conversion of believers led them to ask how to live afterwards
April 14, 2002 Acts 2:14, 36-47
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:
36 "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 Peter replied, "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 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off -- for all whom the Lord our God will call."
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (NIV)
Several years ago one of my members had temporarily lost a very precious trinket - one that she had cherished for over twenty years. Have you ever lost something like that, never to find it again? Whether it was an old doll that your mom threw out or a precious jewel that unknowingly fell off your neck, most of us know what it feels like to lose something irreplaceable. Even if you could buy the exact same product, the new could never replace the sentimental value of the old. There is a sense of helplessness when we lose something of sentimental value, knowing that there is nothing we can do to replace it.
In today’s text, Peter reminded the Jews very pointedly, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." When these words struck their hearts, it felt like a dagger. The deed was done. They couldn’t take back the spikes, remove the cross, or burn up the evidence. Now Jesus was Lord and Christ. You can feel the sense of hopelessness as the Jews cried out, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Jesus Lives! What Shall We Do?
I. Peter’s reply
That’s quite a question, isn’t it? What can I do to make up for putting God’s Son to death - for spitting in His face - for mocking Him - for whipping Him? We might feel the same way over sins that we committed years ago - there is nothing we can do now to take them back - nothing that can be done to make up for what was done. I once ministered to a man in Norton who had served over 20 years for a murder that he had committed. I know that if he could have done anything to make up for his deed, he would have. But the one thing the parents and family wanted was their son back. And so there was nothing that he could do. No matter how many lives he saved, how many people he fed, or how many years he was in prison, he could never do enough to make up for the life of another. The same is true of us and the deeds we have done.
So how did Peter respond? What if Peter had shrugged his shoulders at their question and said, “I don’t know!”? Or worse, what if he had said, “it’s too late. You’re going to hell in a hand basket.” What utter despair the Jews would have gone through! But Peter had a better answer which gave them a bright ray of hope in the midst of darkness.
How? First of all, Peter told them to repent. The Jews had already been struck with sorrow over what they had done. But repent doesn’t only mean sorrow over sins. It literally means to “change your mind.” They knew what they had done was wrong - that they were on the wrong pathway. So by telling them to repent - Peter was not only telling them to stop going down the path they were headed - he was pointing them to the new pathway - to the path to heaven. And there’s only one way to be on that path, Jesus said in John 11:25, He who believes in me will live. So what Peter was really telling the Jews was to believe in Christ!