Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
I imagine many books and lectures on preaching have focussed on this passage – there is plenty to pick up on, to dissect, and to try to emulate. But even if we are not preachers or church leaders, there is one thing in this sermon that is of the utmost importance, and that we must take note of: Peter continually points to Jesus.
He identifies with his listeners – ‘fellow Israelites’ – and refers to their experience: ‘a man accredited by God to you […] as you yourselves know.’ There is no question of evidence here; Peter feels no need to prove that these things happened. He seeks merely to say what happened, explain its meaning, and then trusts the Holy Spirit to do the rest.
Against all communication advice ever given, Peter then goes on to accuse his listeners: ‘you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.’ He is not ashamed to state the truth.
And the truth, as it so often does, leads to a revelation of God’s goodness – yes, Jesus had been crucified, but God’s plan and purposes had prevailed: ‘God raised him from the dead’, because it was ‘impossible for death to keep its hold on him’.
To point continually to Jesus in our daily lives – in both word and action – doesn’t just mean discussing the ‘easy’ parts of his life, or the parts which are fun to share. It also means being clear about the consequences of our sin, the reality that we, too, are complicit in Jesus’ death. It means telling the truth. It means communicating the full, glorious story of what God has done despite our actions.
Wherever you find yourself this week, let Peter’s words encourage you not only to point to Jesus, but – as you have the opportunity – to tell the truth about him, even when it might be difficult or controversial to do so. Proclaim the good news. Live in such a way that makes no sense unless Jesus is alive. And leave the rest to God.
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