Delighted to be Invited—Acts 2, Part I

I recently read an article in “Church in the Present Tense” by Scot McKnight, who led a seminar for New Covenant a few months ago.  In his article, Scot suggested that all of the sermons in Acts revolve around a single theme, no matter who how diverse the hearers were. That theme was the claim that the speaker was relaying God’s invitation to the hearer to either become a part of God’s great story of humanity and Israel, or to take the next step with God in that story. In every case, that involved joining the story of Jesus’ life, cross, resurrection, and exaltation and the community story that flows from it. In this and the next two blogs, I will briefly explore what that invitation looks like in three of the sermons in Acts, with a special emphasis on how each sermon claims that we can find a new kind of “peace”/shalom by becoming a part of God’s Great Master Story.

Acts 2:

1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place…. 5Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem….

16…This is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,

that I will pour out my Spirit upon all of humanity,

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

and your young men shall see visions,

and your old men shall dream dreams.

18 Even upon my slaves, both men and women,

in those days I will pour out my Spirit;

and they shall prophesy….

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22“You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: 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—23this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power….

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32This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. 33Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear….

36Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

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37Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”

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41So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. 42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they began selling their possessions and goods and began distributing the proceeds to all, whenever anyone began to have a need.  46Day 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, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

– In this situation, many faithful and devout Jewish “church goers” who had traveled many miles to worship are delighted to be invited to join the next step in God’s great story and to be a part of God’s great story.

– Of course, other “church goers” want nothing to do with God’s next step in God’s great Jesus story.

– This passage emphasizes that the Jesus story is a next step in the much older story of God as it had been carried forward in Joel the prophet of Israel and his prophetic understanding that God’s goal was always to include “all of humanity” in God’s great story.

– In this passage, the invitation also emphasizes a new kind of peace between genders, generations, social classes, and ethnicities.

– Then, we are told that this deeper peace offered through God’s next great step is enacted in the sharing of  homes, and in the sharing of  meals/eucharist, and in the sharing of seeing God do great works through humans, and in sharing resources. The invitation to a new peace with God also led to a new kind of peace with one another!

– Finally, we are told that living/being the story of God at work through Jesus drew others into BEING DELIGHTED TO BE INVITED (v. 47).

– Note:  in each of the three narratives we are looking at in this and the next two blogs, baptism by immersion is offered as a public sign that we are joining in God’s story of humanity & Israel as it is moved forward in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Baptism is seen as a way of publicly “being the story.”

CHALLENGE from Acts 2:  Are we who are church goers, ready to step further into God’s great story even when it means honestly looking at where we have missed God’s next step? How much more “peace” is God wishing to give us if we would risk stepping more fully into God’s Jesus story as communities of faith?

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