150412 Acts 3:12-20

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 April 2015 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Series Theme: AD: Our Easter Celebration Continues

Text: Acts 3:12-20

Theme: The Message Of Easter Continues!

A.D. The Bible Continues is the title of a new NBC mini-series that premiered last Easter Sunday. It is produced by the same folks who made the mini-series "The Bible." According to their web site, "A.D. The Bible Continues picks up where the miniseries The Bible left off, continuing the greatest story ever told and exploring the exciting and inspiring events that followed the Crucifixion of Christ." Since this mini-series will be airing each Sunday night at 8:00 PM and many of you may find yourself watching it, and since during this Easter Season of the Christian Church Year one of our weekly Scripture readings is taken from the book of Acts which records the early history of the Christian Church, Pastor Pagels suggested that we focus our sermon messages each week on the assigned reading from Acts. So, as we begin this series of sermons, I would like to suggest that we change the title slightly from A.D. The Bible Continues to A.D. Our Easter Celebration Continues. As you and I continued to celebrate the wonderful Good News of our Savior's victorious resurrection, today based on God's Word from Acts chapter 3 we see that The MESSAGE of Easter Continues.

Acts chapter 3 picks up the history of the Christian Church after the day of Pentecost has taken place. On that one day, Pentecost, we are told in Acts chapter 2 that the Holy Spirit created faith in Jesus as the one and only Savior in the hearts of 3,000 people! The end of Acts chapter 2 tells us that "the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." More and more people are hearing the message of Easter and through that message they are being led by God the Holy Spirit to believe in Jesus as their Savior.

At the beginning of Acts chapter 3, two of Jesus' disciples (Peter and John) heal a man who had been crippled from birth. How were Peter and John able to heal someone who had been crippled all their life? Peter answers the crowd that had gathered in this way: "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus...By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see." Peter gladly and willingly gives credit where credit is due. It is by the power of the almighty risen Savior that the man was healed.

Peter not only uses this opportunity to give all praise and glory to Jesus for the healing this man enjoyed, he also uses it as an opportunity to share with the crowd the message of Easter. First, his message is one of Law when he tells the crowd, "You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life..." With the full force of the Law, Peter cuts into the hearts of those who were listening to him, telling them that each one of them personally was responsible for killing Jesus.

Before we start thinking too highly of ourselves, you and I need to remember that each one of us here this morning is just as guilty as each one of those who cried out "Crucify him! Crucify him!" It is your sins, it is my sins that caused Jesus to suffer hell and to die on the cross. Isaiah 53 tells us that "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all."

In these words of the prophet Isaiah, written some 700 years before the Savior went to the cross, there is also some wonderful Good News. Peter shares that Good News in this way, "You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this...Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you--even Jesus."

This was not only Good News for those in the crowd that day, it is also wonderful Good News for you and me to hear. Today you and I give thanks that our Easter celebration continues! Today, you and I give thanks that we are able to gather around the Word of our God and the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper and hear that the MESSAGE of Easter continues! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! And because Christ lives you and I can be sure that our sins are completely removed. [At this time I would like to share a video with you that illustrates this wonderful Good News for us.]

So when you and I come to our Lord with a repentant heart, that is with a heart that is deeply sorry for my sins, with a heart that trusts in Jesus for the full and free forgiveness of all of my sins, with a heart that desires to change, to run away from sin and rather live for the Savior, the Good News of Easter continues! The Good News of Easter that proclaims that Jesus was "was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life because of our justification." Because the message of Easter continues, because Jesus Christ lives, you and I can be sure and certain that we are justified; "declared not guilty"; forgiven; it is "just-if-I'd-never-sinned." And, as David writes in Psalm 103, "The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."

On the web site for A.D. The Bible Continues it states this: "The immediate aftermath of Christ's death had a massive impact on his disciples, his mother, Mary, and key political and religious leaders of the era, completely altering the entire world in an instant. Beginning at that fateful moment of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, A.D. The Bible Continues will focus on the disciples who had to go forward and spread the teachings of Christ to a world dominated by political unrest, and the start of a whole new religion that would dramatically reshape the history of the world." You and I know that Christianity is not just another new religion that popped up after the life of Christ. You and I know that the books of Acts is not all about the political unrest of the times. As our Easter celebration continues, as you and I continue our look at the book of Acts during our Worship Services in the weeks to come, you and I rejoice that THE MESSAGE OF EASTER CONTINUES! Amen.

 

 

 

 

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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