Saturday, February 29, 2020

Daily Devotion for Lent 2020 - Day 4

Scripture Reading: Acts 2:22-47 (NRSV)

Peter begins to preach to the Jewish crowd in Jerusalem that have received the Holy Spirit.  They were pilgrims from all over the known world and presumably they are hearing Peter in their own languages.

Peter begins to look at the Hebrew scriptures through a Christological lens.  According to Luke, he receives this from Jesus prior to the Ascension as recorded in Luke 24:44-49:
Then he (Jesus) said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”   (NRSV)
 As Jesus mentions the psalms in the above passage, we see Peter quoting from two different psalms.

The first is from Psalm 16:8-11.  Peter references David for both because it was assumed in that day that David was the author of all of the psalms.  His interpretive retelling of the psalm lends itself perfectly to the resurrection.  The second is from Psalm 110:1.  Peter utilizes this psalm as does Jesus in Luke 20:41-44.

We see that Peter's message was convincing and the first converts are baptized.  This differs from John's baptism as it is in Jesus' name and the believers receive the Holy Spirit.  Luke tells us that 3,000 were baptized at Pentecost.  The apostles would have been very busy instructing all of these people.  Not only would they hear the story of Jesus but they would learn of his teaching.  Thus the former disciples are now instructors themselves.  Peter who started as a fisherman is now a rabbi!

As we see the behavior of the new Christians, they have set greed aside and share of their possessions with one another as need arises.

Their baptism and concern for their neighbors reflects Isaiah 1:16-17:
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.   (NRSV)
Sharing cake batter.  At some point, we lose the
enthusiasm for holding things in common.
Luke shows that in Christ, we are actually fulfilling what God had in mind for us all along.

It was amazing how the early church not only survived but began to expand and grow in the first century.  We often lament that we don't have the same impact in society today.  Isaiah reminds us of the first two General Rules of Methodism: do no harm and do good.  What if all the baptized number today began to take this a little more seriously?  While we may say, "it is hard to do" we must also remember the promise of the Holy Spirit at our baptism.  What if we remembered that we were not ever alone in our efforts?

Prayer for the Day:

Spirit of promise, Spirit of unity, 
we thank you that you are also the Spirit of renewal. 
Renew in the whole Church that passionate desire for the coming of your kingdom 
which will unite all Christians in one mission to the world. 
May we all grow up together into Christ who is our head, the Savior of the world.

Prayer by Olive Wyon, England, 20th Century

Photo by Nathan via  Used under the Creative Commons license.

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