Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
Fulfillment - May 22, 2017 - Holy Trinity Sunday - Text: Acts 2:14a,22-36
This morning, as we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday, we have a guest preacher of sorts. As the first verse of our text tells us, “Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd...” With these words Luke, the writer of the Acts of the Apostles, draws our attention to who is speaking in our text. Thus, this morning we come to hear Peter preach his Easter sermon.
Before we hear Peter’s sermon, however, let me simply say a couple words concerning the fact that this is Holy Trinity Sunday. In the Old Testament reading we hear words of God reminding us that Jesus is God who was with the Father and the Spirit at the creation of the world. In the Gospel reading we have the confession, the claim of Jesus the He is truly God as He says, “before Abraham was, I am.” His words of “I am” echo the words of God when speaking to Moses in the wilderness when Moses asked Him “who should I say sent me?” and God answered, “tell them ‘I Am’ has sent you.” You may notice, however, that as we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday that our texts really do not focus their attention on proving the plurality and oneness of God. You also may notice, throughout His life here on earth, Jesus never focuses His attention on proving anything either, rather He simply always pointed to His works. God does not have to prove anything to us, His people. Rather, He simply gives us His Word, gives us faith, and gives us all the good gifts and blessings He has to give according to His good and gracious will and for that we give thanks.
Getting back to our text, Peter address the congregation, not with the words that we are used to hearing, “grace, mercy and peace be multiplied unto you from God our Father. . .,” but with the words “men of Israel.” Might I remind you that by faith in Jesus we are children of Abraham, thus we are a part of the children of Israel and rightly we would imagine that Peter is addressing us this morning. Of course this goes along with our understanding that all of Holy Scripture is God’s Word spoken through the one He inspired and moved to write, thus again, all of Holy Scripture is speaking to us. Peter begins with Jesus, His life and death. Jesus was at the same time a human being, one hundred percent human, and He was God, one hundred percent God. He did signs, wonders, and miracles as “proof” of His divinity or His God-ness. In his Gospel, John continually points to Jesus’s signs and works of might, His miracles as “proof” of His divinity. Continually we hear of Jesus forgiving sins, healing, feeding crowds of people, casting out demons, raising people from the dead and the like. The Pharisees would always balk at Jesus’ announcement of forgiveness saying that only God can forgive sins. Then to show that He was God, Jesus would heal the person, demonstrating that He was God according to their logic, because they believed that only God could heal. Thus, using their own logic, if Jesus could heal, if He was God, then He could also forgive sins. We might get bogged down in their logic, but we have the advantage of being able to look back at these events so we have already witnessed Jesus’ death and resurrection and we know that He is the Messiah.
Peter reminds us that Jesus was born according to God’s set purpose and foreknowledge. Jesus was born just as God told us in the promises of the Bible. Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God promised to send a Savior. God reiterated that promise to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to Moses and to many more throughout the history of the children of Israel. Jesus was born so that He might do what a whole nation could not do, so He could do what no one could do. Jesus was born in order to live perfectly and so that He might fulfill all of the promises of God in Holy Scripture, perfectly.
And Peter gets personal. Today, you know how it is, you do not mind if I, as your pastor, preach about sin, as long as I do not preach about your sin because when I preach about your sin then I am getting personal and I am getting nosey, or I am meddling. But it is okay of I preach about sin in general or if I preach about the sin of the person sitting next to you. Peter gets personal. He points the finger and his finger is pointing through time at us, at you and at me. He says, “you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” Jesus was put to death by human hands, the human hands of the listeners, our human hands. It was not the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, it was not the Romans who put Jesus to death. It was because of our sins that Jesus had to give His life. It was because of our sins of greed, envy, selfishness, gluttony, idolatry, cursing, swearing, irregular worship and devotion life, refusal of God’s gifts, name calling, lust, begrudging others, gossip, coveting and the like. It was because of our sins of thought, word and deed. It was because of our sins of omission, failing to do what God would have us to do, failing to be the people He would have us to be. And it was because of our sins of commission, doing the things we should not be doing. Yes, it was because of us. It was because of you and me. We put Jesus on the cross.
But the good news is that Jesus did not stay dead. I believe I have shared this with you before, but I believe it bears repeating, a few years back while I was serving in another parish I remember talking to the daycare children one Wednesday morning during chapel. We were talking about Jesus dying on the cross. Of course, I never like to leave the children, or anyone for that matter, with Jesus being dead. I always like to end with the good news. And so I said, “but Jesus did not stay dead, He rose from the dead.” And with those words one of the daycare children, whom I would guess had never heard the story, said, “Nuh uh!” And of course I responded very theologically and eloquently by saying, “Uh huh!” At Easter and really, every Sunday for us Christians, we come to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Yes, we just moved through what we call the Easter season, the seven weeks of Easter, but we do not cease celebrating Easter. That is why we worship on Sunday because, for us Christians, each and every Sunday is an Easter celebration, a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. We come to worship, not a dead God, but a living God. We come to celebrate that Jesus did rise from the dead, just as God promised. Jesus’ resurrection was not something that should have been a surprise to the children of Israel and it should not be a surprise to us. His resurrection was predicted by King David as Peter points out by quoting from Psalm 16, “‘25bI saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence’” (Acts 2:25b-28).
Peter quotes David who was glad that, although he would die, he knew he had eternal life. He knew that although he would die, his body would be resurrected. And He predicted that Jesus’ body would not see decay, because He would rise on the third day. Of course there are many other passages of Holy Scripture that Peter could have quoted, but this is the one he quotes for us this morning. Jesus’ resurrection was not something about which it was not known that it would happen. God said it would happen, He promised it. He reiterated His promise time and again through the prophets of the Bible. Unfortunately, many people missed it. Many were like the Pharisees and even Jesus’ own disciples who had misinterpreted the promises of old and who had come to look for and believe that the Messiah would be an earthly King. Peter quotes the words of King David, given to Him by God, which are a clear testimony and promise that the Messiah would come and die, yet His body would not see decay, because God would not allow that to happen and because He did not stay dead, but rose from the dead. David is certain and we can be certain that because Jesus rose, bodily rose, we too will rise again. Death and the grave have no power over us.
Peter’s sermon are words that remind us that he was a witness to these events. Peter was with Jesus throughout His three years of ministry and His death. He was one of the chosen twelve who were not only Jesus’ disciples, but His chosen and set apart apostles. Just as David died and was buried and his tomb is “here today” as Peter says, so he was a witness of Jesus death on the cross and he was a witness of Jesus’ resurrection. Peter says they are the same, he has witnessed David’s tomb, it is a real thing and he witnessed Jesus’ life, His ministry and preaching, His death, and His resurrection. And it was not just once that Peter saw Jesus alive, but several times. Between His resurrection and His ascension, forty days after Easter, Jesus showed Himself many times to His disciples and to many others.
Peter is preaching to a crowd of people who know what he is talking about because they were a part of these events. They saw Jesus, they heard Him preach, they were healed by Him, they were fed by Him, they saw Him suffer and die on the cross, it may be that some of them were the ones in the crowd who praised Him as He rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and it may even be that some were the ones who shouted for His crucifixion at His trial. And it could be that some of them had even seen Jesus after His resurrection.
Peter preaches succinctly, these are the facts! Peter comes to us this morning and preaches just as succinctly, these are the facts.
What does this mean for us today? It means that we have confidence in our faith in Jesus. We rest assured that Jesus is who He says He is and that He is who the Bible says He is, that is, He is the Messiah, God in human flesh, the Savior of the world, your Savior and mine. We make use of the Bible just as Peter did. We go back to the promises of the Old Testament and see how they have all been fulfilled in Jesus, in His life, in His death, and in His resurrection.
We have confidence in our certainty of forgiveness. Because Jesus gave His life for ours, because Jesus died the eternal spiritual death penalty for us in our place, because of all that Jesus has done, we have forgiveness of sins. The price, the cost, of our sins, death, eternal spiritual death (the wages of sin is death), has been paid. Our sins have been forgiven, cast away as far as the east is from the west, so far have they been removed from us.
We have confidence in our certainty of eternal life. Heaven is ours, now. It is a present reality. Heaven is a gift, given to us by Jesus who earned it for us. Because Jesus rose from the dead we know that we too will rise again.
This morning we want to thank Peter for his words of confidence and assurance to us. We thank Peter for reminding us that Jesus fulfilled all things. We might summarize the message we heard this morning with the words of the explanation to the second article of the Apostles’ Creed. And as we listen again to these words of explanation, we may be reminded, once again of the plurality in the oneness of our God who shows Himself to be a triune God. “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.” To God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.