June 19, 2011
As Jesus’ disciple, we see him boldly proclaiming “You are the Christ, Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:15), but the next minute he is rebuking and being rebuked by Jesus. (Matthew 16:22-23). We see him bravely stepping out on the water (Matthew 14:28) but sinking “when he saw the wind…he cried out, ‘Lord save me.’” (Matthew 14:30). He denies Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest (Matthew 26:69-75). However, when fishing after the Resurrection he “sprang into the sea” to get to Jesus on the shore. (John 21:7-8)
In Acts 1:15-22, he appears to have taken on leadership of the group when he suggests “one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us…must become with us a witness to this resurrection.”
It is Peter who addresses the crowd in Acts 2:14-17. His first words are a refutation of the rumor that he and the others are drunk. “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh…’”
He goes on to make an amazing and perhaps inflammatory claim. “Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know…you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power...” (Acts 2:22-24)
Peter’s first sermon has an amazing affect on the crowd. Rather than turning on him as a blasphemer or madman, “those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.” (Acts 2:41) The uneducated fisherman from Galilee was changed by the Holy Spirit and spoke with power not with fear. Unlike the vacillating, frightened man in the courtyard of Caiphas, Peter knew and believed “God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36)
Peter was transformed by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. He spoke boldly and he remained in the community of faith. “Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people.” (Acts 2:47)
We are not supposed to be alone in our walk with God. John Wesley once said, “There is no such thing as a solitary Christian.” Friends in faith are a living example of the lesson found in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. “Two are better than one…For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help…A threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Next week we will see what happened to Peter and John as they continued to act in the power of the Spirit of the Living God. Meanwhile, I challenge you to find a small group of fellow Christians to walk with on your journey. It will make a difference.
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