Monday, April 23, 2012
Sermon on Acts 4:11-21, for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, "Author of Life"
1. Scene unfolds after the healing of a lame man, healed in the name of Jesus. Peter addresses crowd of Jewish men, second sermon in Acts. Dismisses any thought that this miracle happened by their power or piety (godliness); i.e. we are ordinary men. Not for their glory or greatness; “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Ps 115:1) How did this miracle happen? In no other way than this: the name of Jesus—faith in His name. Why does His name hold such power? I’ll gladly tell you! (Courage!)
2. Heart of the issue: who is this Jesus, and how did you treat Him? How did God treat Him? Uncovers a most painful and shocking irony—they traded in God’s pure and innocent child, Jesus, for a murderer, Barabbas. They had an opportunity to speak for the release of Jesus, which Pilate was ready and willing to do, and they ignorantly followed their leaders and spoke vehemently against Him. And in doing so, they surrendered the Author of Life to death, while asking the “favor” of having a murderer set free!
3. Talk about a colossal sin! Did they ever choose the wrong guy to kill! And for a murderer, of all people, to go free at their request! How can we explain this guilt? This sin? Sin ultimately defies explanation. Sure there are rationalizations, excuses, denials, passing the blame. But ultimate we are without excuse. There is no rationalization or excuse that can make sense of the insanity of killing the Holy and Righteous Son of God—the Author of Life, and asking for the freedom of a murderer. Only sin and evil can lead to choosing what is harmful and destructive to ourselves, even when we know better. Or when we don’t know better, sinning ignorantly, that we try to cover it up with excuses or denials. This is what sin does.
4. Immeasurable guilt laid at their feet. Unspeakable evil. What could they do now? The deed was done. The past couldn’t be re-written. They were doomed. If you, in a fit of passion, had killed one who you thought to be your enemy, and then 3 days later they were alive again, raised from the grave—what would you naturally fear? Revenge? Death? Watch over your shoulder? Arrest and sentencing for your guilt might seem a safer escape!
5. We don’t stand as far from their guilt in Jesus’ death as we are tempted to think. Neither did Peter. He knew what it was to deny Jesus, to repent and turn again to Jesus to have his sins blotted out, washed away, and find times of refreshing. We weren’t physically at the cross, shouting the curses against Jesus—but in the words of our songs and hymns: “it was my sin that held Him there” or “I caused your grief and sighing, by evils multiplying, as countless as the sands.” Or from the mouth of the prophet: “the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity (guilt) of us all” (Is. 53:6b). No one can escape the guilt of the cross. We all shared in it. Humanity has collectively, as a group, committed great and terrible sin. And that sin put Jesus on the cross. The Lord laid on Jesus the guilt of us all.
6. Peter’s sermon is astonishing, because despite all our guilt, their guilt, the immeasurable guilt of the death of the Author of Life, Jesus, God’s child, God is granting pardon! Forgiveness! Jesus is not seeking revenge, but to take away our sin. Author of Life, not of death! As proof of this, a man stands healed in His name. So repent! Turn again to Jesus, your sins will be washed away.
7. We shamefully mistreated Jesus, but God has raised Him. Exalted Him. Heaven receives the victorious Lord till the day of restoration, the end of all things and the beginning of His new creation. Cannot stand against the man whom God has raised up from the dead, so stand for Him! Repent and turn! Times of refreshing.
8. Who knows refreshment better than one who has been parched and dry, thirsty and craving water—and then finds a cool, refreshing fountain of water to drink from? Who knows refreshment better than those who has stood under the immeasurable guilt of laying our sins on the only Son of God, and denying Him to be the Christ, the One God sent for our life—and then finds God’s unimaginable mercy, like a cool, refreshing fountain, flowing with forgiveness over our dirty and dry soul? Who can know that refreshment better than those who have experienced the 180 degree turn from facing God’s rightful judgment and condemnation, to the news of His pardon and release. That He took the charges against us and bore them on Himself. That there is no measure, not an inkling of glory or credit that goes to us, but that it was all out of God’s perfect love and generosity. If you want to know…need to know times of refreshing, repent, turn from your sins to Jesus!
9. Jesus came for those aching under a painful load of sin and guilt, for those who shared in the unspeakable evil of killing the Author of Life. But as the Author of Life, He comes to bring us His life.
10. Come and know this Jesus! Know the Author of Life, who has written the story for your forgiveness and redemption, who laid down His life so that your guilt could be obliterated in His death. He is the One from before all time, who created and gave life to all things. He alone can restore life when we’ve damaged, destroyed, or lost it. He’s the One who brings life to the dead, brings refreshment to the thirsty and hungry. If you’ll allow me to make a play on words, Jesus, the Author of Life is the One you need to come to for the ultimate “book-signing”—where He signs your name into His Book of Life. All who believe in Jesus, who look to Him as the Author of Life, True God, our Savior, will have that priceless, incomparably valuable book-signing that means we will stand with Him in heaven one day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Sermon Talking Points
Read past sermons at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.blogspot.com
Listen to audio at: http://thejoshuavictortheory.podbean.com
1. Read Acts 3:1-10 about the healing of the lame man, which precedes today’s reading. What catches your attention? Re-read Acts 3:11-21. Peter and John don’t claim any credit for this miracle. Why? Read Psalm 115:1. How do Peter’s words in v. 12 contrast to the behavior of so many “faith healers” today?
2. What is the startling irony that Peter exposes in his sermon? v. 13-15. Contrast from this reading how God treated Jesus, and how humans did. How is sin and evil simply inexplicable/inexcusable? Rom. 1:20; 2:1. Why do we make excuses, justifications, denials, etc anyway?
3. How is the guilt of sin immeasurable? Ps. 130:3; 38:4. How are we participants in the guilt that put Jesus on the cross? Isaiah 53:6
4. What is astonishing about what Peter is able to proclaim to the crowd despite the immeasurable guilt which was theirs and ours? What is so incredible about the good news (Gospel)?
5. Contrast what you would expect to happen if you killed a person and they came back to life, with what actually happened when Jesus rose from the grave. What was His message to people? Luke 24:46-47
6. Describe what it means to experience “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” How is your soul in need of refreshment? How is this provided to you by Jesus? Luke 7:47; Prov. 15:30; Philemon 20
7. Explore the idea that Jesus is the “Author of Life.” Heb. 12:1-2; Rev. 3:5; 20:15; 21:27. How does He write your name in His Book of Life?