Here is a picture of a young girl who, at the time, was being bullied terribly. Does anyone know who she is? It’s the Duchess of Cambridge of course. Though nobody knew it at the time.
While Kate Middleton was at Downe House school she was bullied. In fact she was bullied so much that her parents took her out of the school after just two terms.
I wonder what those bullies thought as they saw her kissing her handsome prince on the balcony of Buckingham Palce?
Maybe the last they remember of her was Katy Middleton, Flaky Pimpletongue. Maybe the last they saw her they had her in tears. Perhaps they’d told her they wished she was dead and that nothing good would ever happen to her.
How wrong they were! As those bullies watched this moment they would realise that now, because of her Prince, she’s royalty. And one day Flaky Pimpletongue will be Queen over those bullies!
I wonder if the bullies have changed their mind about Kate Middleton. Do you think they have?
Well our passage speaks of an even bigger change of mind. It happened on a Day called Pentecost. It was 10 days after Jesus had returned to heaven. Jerusalem was, if you like, full of bullies. Jerusalem was full of people who had wanted Jesus dead. Just seven weeks earlier these people had shouted out to Pontius Pilate “Crucify Jesus! Crucify Him!”
Now 7 weeks later the Apostle Peter has some news for them. Peter tells them that what they did to Jesus was a million times worse than what Kate Middleton’s bullies did to her. In Acts 2 verse 36, Peter says “You crucified Jesus.”
What an accusation! But Peter insists “You crucified Jesus, but God raised Him from the dead and seated Him in Heaven on the throne of the universe and has declared Him to the world to be LORD and Christ!”
Verse 36: "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
If you had bullied someone at school, and it turned out they were the son of the headmaster, that would be bad enough.
What if you’d bullied the Son of God, how much trouble do you think you’d be in?
What if you’d killed the Son of God, how much trouble do you think you’d be in?
Peter says “You crucified the LORD of Glory.”
There’s a song I love, perhaps you sing it here too: “How deep the Father’s love for us.” It speaks of the cross. And it has a line in it “It was MY SIN that held Him there.”
That’s true. My sins were being punished in Jesus’ body on the cross. Peter’s words are for me too. “You crucified Jesus.”
How do you respond to such a message? Here’s what the people do. Verse 37:
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"
Cut to the heart. Peter’s words are like a knife straight into their chest. Oh my goodness! They realise that the person they’ve rejected all along is their Maker and their Judge! He is their Lord and their Messiah. And they didn’t bow down to Him, they didn’t lift Him up on their shoulders – they lifted Him up on the cross. The realization of this pierces into the deepest parts of them. CUT TO THE HEART!
What should they do? they ask...
And what about us? (Student who said that God showing up would be "inconvenient". She's just being honest - we all want to sideline and silence Jesus. It was my sin that held Him there.)
So then what should we do?
Should we try to run and hide? Where would we hide? God’s quite good at hide and seek. He usually wins that one. Should we try to make it up to God? How could we make it up to God? We haven’t just stolen stationery from the workplace – we’ve killed the Lord of Glory! We’ve murdered His Son who He loves with an eternal passion.
This is what the crowd cry out: What should we do? What could they do? Surely this is it for these bullies, these murderers. And for us – surely the jig is up. "It was my sin that held Him there." I crucified Jesus. What hope could there be for us? Well Peter gives some incredibly good news. Verse 38:
"Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
I have been marvelling at this verse all week. Peter says that God wants to forgive the killers of His Son, and not just forgive them, He wants to give them a gift. “You’ve killed my Son. I forgive you. Here have a present.” That’s incredible!
Have you ever heard of a Judge who says “Yes I know you’re guilty but I forgive you.” Can you imagine a Judge whose son was murdered saying “I know you’re guilty but I forgive you”? Can you imagine a Judge whose son was murdered saying, “I know you’re guilty, but I forgive you and I want to give you a gift.” And imagine he says “Here’s my gift – have my daughter’s hand in marriage.” But that’s just like what God says. He wants to forgive us and give us a gift – the gift of His Spirit. Another Family member if you like.
He gives us One Family Member – His Son. We kill Him and He pays us back by giving us His Other Family Member, His Spirit! That’s everything He has to give us. Before there was a universe there was God the Father; the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son; and the Holy Spirit. That’s what we call the Trinity. And at Christmas the Father gave us His Son. On Good Friday we killed Him. On Easter Sunday, God raised Him from the dead. But on the Day of Pentecost, God says, I forgive you for killing my Son, Here, have my Spirit too!!
It’s the equivalent of saying “You’ve killed my boy, I forgive you. Here, have my daughter’s hand in marriage!”
How giving is God??!
He gives us His Son, He gives us His Spirit and He says to us (verse 38): Change your mind. That’s what repent means: change your mind. Jesus is Lord. He is the King.
It’s like with Kate Middleton. Those bullies used to think she was Flaky Pimpletongue. Now she’s the Duchess of Cambridge. One day they will call her Queen. Now I imagine those bullies have changed their mind about Kate. We need to make that same change about Jesus. Perhaps we used to use Jesus’ name as a swear word. At best we used to think Jesus was just a man. Just a teacher. Just an example. We were wrong. He is LORD. He is LORD. He is risen from the dead and He is LORD. Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD. One day everyone will confess it – whether willingly or unwillingly. But today there’s space for everyone to gladly confess it. To change their mind about Jesus before it’s too late. He is God’s Son. He is the King. Change your mind, repent. And be baptised (says Peter).
Do you remember when Jesus was baptised? It was the very start of His ministry. And it was the sense of Jesus JOINING US.
When Jesus was baptised, He came to step into our shoes. And from His baptism onwards, everything He did He did in OUR NAME.
Now Peter says, you get baptised. And when you get baptised it’s the sense of you JOINING HIM. Now everything you do, you do in His name.
Do you see how that works? First Jesus was baptised. He joined us in our kind of life and He did everything in our name. He has lived for us, died for us and risen for us. And now He turns around and makes us an incredible offer. We can join Jesus in His kind of life and do everything in His name. We can be united to Jesus – which means that everything His becomes ours. It really is the ultimate royal marriage.
When we’re united to our Prince – we get His royal wealth, His royal status, His royal inheritance, His royal power, His royal connections, and best of all we get HIM. And baptism is a bit like the wedding ring. It’s the outward sign of the union.
Peter says, Repent and be baptised. Change your mind about Jesus and be united to Him. You will be forgiven ALL your sins and given the gift of the Holy Spirit.
What a promise! Who’s it for, this promise? Surely it’s for good people, religious people, respectable people. NO says Peter. Verse 39 – this promise is for you – you Christ-killers. That’s who the promise is for – Christ-killers.
In fact that’s WHY Jesus allowed Himself to be killed – to offer Himself to us and to offer forgiveness and the gift of His Spirit. He gave Himself to sinners. So this promise is, verse 39:
…for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call."
It’s for young and old, near and far, Jew and Gentile. It’s for you this morning. Do you think you’re too sinful to be forgiven and given the Holy Spirit? This promise is for Christ-killers. It’s for you. Do you think you’re too young to receive Jesus? Peter says, this promise is for children too. Do you think you’re too far from God? Peter says, it’s fall those far off too. It’s for you. Christ is for you, if you want Him. Change your mind. Be united to Him.
Our reading goes on:
40 With many other words Peter warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."
Peter warns and pleads.
He warns: we need to change our minds and join Jesus. We belong to a corrupt world that is sunk in sin and bound for judgement. We live in a world blind to the truth about Jesus. And if we continue to refuse Jesus and His offer, we will face the judgement of God unforgiven. I warn you, as Peter did, do not refuse this offer. Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.
But Peter doesn’t just warn. He also pleads with us. He urges us change your mind, join Jesus. You’d be mad not to. God is offering you His Son and offering you His Spirit, for free and forever. You could go home today forgiven for every sin – past, present and future. You can’t pass that up can you? I plead with you. Change your mind, join Jesus.
When Peter preached this message on the day of Pentecost 3000 people repented and were baptized. Less than 2 months ago they had shouted “Crucify Him!” Now the Father forgives them and gives them His Spirit as well. Amazing grace.
What about us?
Maybe you’ve been baptized. Perhaps you were baptized as a child. That’s a wonderful thing, this verse says that the promise is for children. Being baptized as a child is a brilliant and biblical thing. But perhaps, you’ve been baptized but you’ve never repented – you’ve never had that change of mind where you’ve said “Jesus is Lord, I trust Him with my life.” Maybe you’ve carried on your life as if Jesus is not Lord. You need to repent. You need to change your mind and confess that Jesus is Lord.
Perhaps some here have repented – you know that Jesus is Lord and you’ve trusted Him – but perhaps you’ve never been baptized. Well let me assure you that if you have entrusted your life to Jesus, you are saved. But you are also commanded in the bible to be baptized. Because that’s the outward sign of belonging to Jesus – it’s the wedding ring. Have you been baptized? Perhaps some here might need to talk to Marc about getting baptized when he’s back. He would be thrilled to help you with that.
Perhaps you have repented and been baptized – this morning, rejoice at the grace of God. He has given us His Son. He has forgiven us His murder. And He has poured out His Spirit to we the guilty. How giving is our God? And if He has given us His Son and His Spirit for free and forever, what will He withhold from us?
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)