Going Deeper 04.21.2021

The first reading for the Third Sunday of Easter... Acts 4:5-12

The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

The setting for this text is important.  Peter and John had just healed a man who had been lame from birth.  Actually, as they clarify here, it was the power of the risen Jesus which had done the healing.  They were mere channels.

But this healing set the stage for the sharing of the Gospel, first with the 'ordinary' people--which we heard about last week--and now with the "rulers, elders, and scribes."  In both instances Peter puts the responsibility for Jesus' crucifixion on the people and their leaders... but only in order to proclaim salvation.  Repentance always set the stage for the Gospel of grace.

Of course, not everyone repents.  God has never forced people to believe and to follow.  He invites.  People can choose to disregard the truth about sin, which makes grace seem unnecessary.  People can refuse to believe that "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved."  And if people do not believe the truth about sin and about salvation through Jesus, they are exercising their God-given right to do so.

As we exercise our calling to share the Gospel with others, we can learn two important truths for this story.  First, we must rely on the power of the risen Jesus to bring about the miracle of salvation.  We are mere channels.  And, secondly, we cannot force anyone to believe or to follow.  All we can do is invite.

With You in His Mission,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"