16 April 2015Acts 2:37-41
“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (v. 38)
Psalm: Psalm 137:1-7
Peter was a transformed person. Filled with the Holy Spirit he was emboldened and seemingly fearless; he spoke with great clarity and passion, and people were moved by his words. And his words demanded a response - though it wasn't clear to the assembled crowd exactly what that response should be. So Peter spelled it out for them.
The people needed to repent; to turn around or turn away from how they were currently living - the way that had rejected Jesus and played a part in seeing him crucified. They needed to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ - initiated into this new Spirit-filled, Christ-centred community - a rite of passage that symbolised their dying to the old ways and their rising to new life in Christ. By so doing they would be accepting forgiveness of their sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit. The message, the offer and the response were available to all who heard.
The words of Peter recorded here are probably only a fragment of what he had to say. No doubt he used many other arguments and exhortations to convince his listeners - and thousands responded. And his fellow apostles shared this new-found courage and conviction; preaching and teaching the good news of Jesus Christ, to which these first converts devoted themselves.
So a new community was born and began to take shape, carried along on the crest of an exhilarating wave, and characterized by teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers.
It is difficult to fathom the extraordinary events surrounding the Resurrection and the subsequent appearances of the risen Christ; or the Ascension and the subsequent pouring out of God's Spirit at Pentecost. They have come to be viewed as history-making and life-changing, with profound and eternal consequences for the whole of creation. At this stage, however, it was a small band of faithful people whose lives had been turned upside down and who found themselves at the centre of a mighty, and yet still local, upheaval!
- How would you sum up succinctly the message of the Christian faith and what would you say to someone who asked how they should respond to this message?
- How confident and assured do you think Peter actually felt inside as he engaged with the crowds? What motivated and sustained him? What might you learn from this?
- Is 'conversion' a one off experience or can people go through many 'conversions'? How have you experienced 'conversion' in your own life?
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