Summary: Easter 5(C) - Christians rejoice in God’s word of light by hearing and believing and by proclaiming God’s eternal truth.
REJOICE IN GOD’S WORD OF LIGHT
May 14, 2006 - EASTER 5 - Acts 13:44-52
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Dear Friends in Christ:
The second Sunday in May always seems to be a special day. Today is no different. This second Sunday of May is much like all of those other second Sundays in May. Today’s weather is nice. We are reminded how important it was that the Lord provided for us faithful mothers. There is a joy in our hearts whether we are a mother, or honor our mother, or recall the memory of our mother. There is closeness and a sense of peace in recalling our family ties. We also realize that this is just a worldly celebration set up by men. It is not a bad celebration. The Lord also reminds us today that as much love and joy and peace and contentment we feel because of our mother or for our mother, or a mother for her children, we are even more closely connected as children of God. We heard it in our Scripture lessons already that we are God’s children, and he loves us. We are the branches and he is the vine. Without him we have no nourishment or life, nothing at all.
Peter describes this joy that you and I have and even though we don’t see Jesus physically. We realize the joy we have for our mother or our parents or our friends when we do see them. Peter says God’s love is multiplied even though we can’t see him. "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:8,9). So the peace and contentment and love we feel this morning, we are to multiply that even more. Why? God has given to us the salvation of our souls. From today’s text:
WE REJOICE IN GOD’S WORD OF LIGHT
I. By hearing and believing, and;
II. By proclaiming God’s truth.
I. BY HEARING AND BELIEVING
In our text we continue with what we studied last week. Paul and Barnabas and his friends left Jerusalem to sail across the Mediterranean. They landed in Antioch of Pisidia. There they preached God’s word. That was last week. This week is also another week in our text as it says: "On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the world of the Lord." From last week’s Sabbath to this one, the disciples were teaching and preaching and proclaiming God’s Word. In that week, a few short days, God’s word was heard and believed by those who were willing to listen. We are told almost the whole town came out. Imagine the joy of Paul and Barnabas, the excitement as people gathered around. Many for the first time heard the Gospel message that Christ had lived and died and rose again. You would think there would be no one who would oppose such a message.
Yet, what does the next verse tell us? "When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying." Here these people were members of the synagogue for all of their life. When they saw the Gentiles coming in, they were not so happy. This is Paul’s first missionary journey. We remember when he goes back to Jerusalem, he has to justify to those in Jerusalem that the Gentiles could believe. The Jews thought the Gentiles couldn’t believe without knowing the Ten Commandments. The Gentiles couldn’t believe without being circumcised or that they couldn’t believe without knowing all the laws and commandments of God in the first five books of the Bible. Yet, that is not the case. The Gentiles rejoiced in God’s Word of light by hearing and believing.
The message was simple. Paul says to the crowd: "This is what the Lord has commanded us: ’I made you a light for the Gentiles.’" Paul realized that God had made him a light for the Gentiles. Barnabas realized God had made him for the Gentiles. There were some of the Jews who did understand that prophesy from Isaiah a long time ago. The Jews were also to be lights for the Gentiles. By their hearing and believing, they could be in the light; and their light would bring others to that light. Still we find the Jews are filled with jealousy. Too many people gathered to hear Paul and Barnabas but did not come to hear their message of the law, which offered no hope.
Note the great change for these new believers. In verse 48: "When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed." They heard and believed by the power of the Holy Spirit. They were glad and rejoiced in this word of light from God himself. There were those who stood against Paul and Barnabas and rejected them. That too, was part of God’s plan. Verse 46: "Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: ’We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.’" They continued preaching and the Gentiles rejoiced at hearing God’s word of light.