Summary: Following the Disciples in the Book of Acts, this message looks at the first sermon ever preached, by a forgiven and transformed Peter.
Sermon for CATM - May 10, 2015 - “Empowered by the Spirit”
We are still in the afterglow of Easter, and we’ve decided to keep following the earliest disciples of Jesus, also called the Apostles - as they move forward, after they see Jesus, who they knew had been murdered...as they see Him alive again.
As they hear of His appearing to many hundreds of people, as they respond to His commission to go into all the world and make disciples.
They were told to go into Jerusalem and wait for the promised Holy Spirit. That they did, and as Pastor Lee talked about last week, the Holy Spirit showed up, and there were signs and there were wonders.
The chiefest sign was that people who spoke very different languages heard the praises of God coming out of the mouths of people who did not speak their language.
It was an obvious, in-your-face miracle, a human impossibility. But it was happening right in front of the people's’ eyes and ears. Everyone has heard the Galilean disciples speaking in their own diverse tongues.
Some witnessing this clear miracle, can’t accept that it’s taking place and so they make fun of them and say they’ve had too much wine.
And then we hear from Peter. This is the same Peter that we know from the gospels, but this is not the same Peter. The Peter we know from the gospels was a fellow who put his foot in his mouth regularly.
He was the same one who boldly asserted to Jesus that even if everyone else abandoned Jesus, he - Peter - would not. Shortly thereafter, as Jesus predicted, Peter denied Jesus. His courage failed.
When being associated with Jesus reflected badly on him, might have cost him dearly, he ran out of bluster. He denied Jesus, swore up and down that He never knew Him.
And then, realizing what he had done, he was deeply, profoundly ashamed to have denied his Lord by His actions. [Pause]
Does that ever happen to us? Can we relate to Peter? We know we love Jesus. We know we believe in Him with all our hearts...but by our actions at times, no one would know it.
By our actions we deny the One who has saved us. Strange, perhaps, but we’re in the company of Peter.
Perhaps you know the story of Jesus restoring Peter. Peter denied Him 3 times, so Jesus asked him 3 times - do you love Me?
It’s a poignant story. Again, an expression of the grace of God that most of us here at church today have likely experienced.
So, like I said, this is the Peter we know, but it’s also not the Peter we know. Here, Peter speaks as a changed man.
A man who has grasped just how much he has been forgiven by Jesus. He has learned to love much. He has lost his foolhardy tendency to blurt out his poorly considered words.
He has been humbled - by his own actions of which he was ashamed, as I’ve mentioned.
He is a man has who discovered the truth that in and of himself, he had little actual courage. But something has changed. Peter has discovered a profound courage.
And so he stands up, with the other 11 disciples, and he speaks with authority, he speaks with passion and he speaks with love.
And as he speaks he unveils some of the mysteries of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible.
It’s said that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. This passage is a good example.
This was the first time that those who believed in Jesus' resurrection had spoken so openly about their beliefs or the way of salvation.
This passage is, in fact, the record of the first sermon, the first Christian message or teaching, ever given. Let’s look more closely at it.
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.
Remember, the people were still distracted and amazed by the miracle of the tongues of fire that had fallen on the disciples.
He doesn’t want them to be distracted by the miracle, but he is using this moment, which had gotten the attention of the people, in order to explain what God is doing among them.
These are people, some of them, who knew Peter from before. They are witnessing a new boldness in Peter. That’s because Peter is no longer living for himself. He’s no long about himself. He’s about the gospel. He’s about bringing glory to Jesus alone.
15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 " 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'