Summary: Year C Easter Sunday, Acts 10: 34-43, April 15, 2001
Year C Easter Sunday, Acts 10: 34-43, April 15, 2001
Title: “The “surprise” about God.”
This sermon of Peter is both a first and a last. It is the first recorded sermon to a Gentile audience in Acts. It is also the last time Peter gives a sermon. Peter’s preaching to Gentiles is extremely significant. It was not Paul, but Peter, who was the first to convert Gentiles and this speech formally inaugurates the Church’s mission to the Gentiles. While they had their differences Peter and Paul were in agreement that the Gentiles were equal in worth to the Jews. Peter’s speech to the pagans in the house of Cornelius is the last example Luke offers of the preaching of the apostles as leaders of the Jerusalem church. After this he will turn his sights on Paul’s missions to the Gentiles. The author of Acts wants to stress the movement out to the entire world by Paul was in no way a break with the Jerusalem Church. It was inspired growth.
The narrative continues after the speech, showing Peter’s listeners receiving the Spirit, a “Pentecost of the Gentiles,” if you will, and then being baptized.
In verses thirty-four to thirty-five. Peter addressed the people in these words, Literally, “Peter opened his mouth.” This is a formula used to introduce an important statement.
God shows no partiality, Although this is omitted from the reading, it is an extremely important point. It sweeps away in one breath centuries of racial and religious prejudice. Anyone, from whatever nation, who meets the requirements of Micah 6:8, that is, who acts justly, loves mercifully, and walks humbly with the Lord, is acceptable to him. This teaching, implicit in the early prophets, now becomes a central tenet of the new faith. Just as the prophets of old insisted that God’s choice of Israel was an act of grace, not of partiality, which called for a response of obedient service, not of careless complacency, so now this revelation calls for a change of heart leading to forgiveness. Salvation is open to all. This would be news, indeed, coming from a Jew spoken to Gentiles! It would surely get their attention.
In verse thirty-six, Peter immediately relates this fact to Jesus’ life, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection as well as his commission to his disciples to carry on his work throughout the world. True, God first sent the word to the Israelites. True, that “Word” was a Jew, Jesus, who proclaimed “peace,” a distinctly Jewish word for “salvation”. Yet, also true that this Jesus is Lord of all, not just of Jews.
In verse thirty-seven, Here begins what the early church called the kerygma. The term means “preaching.” It was really a set pattern, an outline of the life, ministry, crucifixion, death, resurrection of Jesus and sometimes his commissioning of his disciples. From this outline preachers would fill in examples from the life or teaching of Jesus to bring home a point. From this outline or pattern and the supplying of examples the Synoptic gospels took shape. In fact, verses thirty-seven to thirty-nine, give a resume of Jesus’ ministry which, is very close to an outline of the Synoptics, especially Mark, the first written gospel. It begins with John’s baptismal ministry.
In verses thirty-eight to fourty-three, It goes on to tell of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem, of his crucifixion and resurrection, followed by his commissioning his disciples to be personal witnesses of all this culminating with the offer of forgiveness through faith in Jesus which will enable the believer to avoid condemnation when Jesus judges both the living and dead at the end.
In verse thirty-eight, God anointed him, the force of this would be stronger if it were translated “God made him Messiah.”
With the Holy Spirit and power, in Luke, the author depicts Jesus’ ministry as powered by the Holy Spirit, which he received at the time of his baptism. “Spirit” and “power” can thus mean the same thing here, although there are intimations of the Trinity, for in Luke 5:17 the Spirit is the “power of the Lord,” that is, Yahweh, God the Father.
“Doing good and healing all who were in the power of the devil,” only the “power of the Lord” is strong enough to defeat the “power of the devil.”
In verse thirty-nine, we are witnesses; the stories of and about Jesus are based on eyewitness accounts, people who were there. Yet, their witness is not purely factual or objective. They have interpreted their experiences in the light of the way they feel about Jesus and who he is.
In verses forty and forty-one, “They killed him...God raised him,” This contrast occurs often in the apostolic preaching. Humans treat Jesus one way because of sin and what sin can do. God treats him in quite another way because of his fidelity and what obedience can do. The power in Jesus could conquer the worst that humans could do and that power, in the end, could conquer death physical as well as spiritual.