For our teachings in the Church at the Catch, we’ve been in the Book of Acts of the Apostles which happens to be Marti’s favorite book of the Bible. She loves the Book of Acts because it is full of just that: acts, or what she would call “action.” And since Marti is a woman of action, it’s fitting that she would love these stories of ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things because of the Holy Spirit in them. Which makes Marti wonder why we don’t see similar things happening among us, because we have the same Holy Spirit dwelling in us. To which I can’t give her an answer other than lack of faith, but that’s for anther Catch.
Something that hit me hard this time, however, was the fact that Peter gave two messages in the first two chapters, and both messages were primarily the same: You killed the Messiah.
This is huge. I don’t think you and I can even begin to imagine how hard this message must have hit the Jews who were Peter’s audience. Here they had been waiting since the beginning of recorded history — indeed, since Adam and Eve — for the coming Messiah. Every woman who bore a man-child hoped that she had brought the Messiah into the world. This was their spiritual hope. And add to that the political hope of the particular age Jesus was born into. The Jews were under Roman occupation. They were under the thumb of Caesar at the mercy and the whim of whomever happened to be in charge at the time, most of whom were cruel despots. Remember, when Herod heard from the wise men from the East that a king had been born to the Jews, and he was unable to confirm who the child was, so he had his armies rage through the Jewish settlements killing every male infant two years old and under. Human rights? Ha! Who can even imagine such a thing? This is why the Jews also hoped the Messiah would come in power (after all, he would be their “king”) and free them from Roman rule.
And Peter comes along and says, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36). And in his second message, he said, “You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead” (Acts 3:15). He placed the responsibility for Christ’s death squarely at the feet of all those who cried “Crucify Him!”
True, they did it in ignorance, and it was absolutely necessary because the prophets declared that the Messiah must suffer and die, so they were fulfilling prophesy when they did this. But Peter was quick to point out that this didn’t remove them from responsibility. Even though they didn’t know what they were doing, and they were fulfilling prophesy in killing Jesus, they were still guilty of the crime. The blood was on their hands. To which many of the people replied, “What shall we do?”
Here’s the key point: Is our message today any different? Do we talk only of individual sin, or are we also responsible for the death of Christ? Is it just our sin we talk about, or did we too kill Jesus? What do you think? Aren’t we just as responsible for the death of Jesus as the Jews who shouted “Crucify Him?”
What shall we do?
“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 Messiah 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.” (Acts 3:17-19)