Acts 3:11-26; Ps 8 O Lord, your God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!; Luke 24:35-48
We continue to follow i the footsteps of Peter in Acts of the Apostles and the disciples in the unfolding narrative of the resurrection according to the gospel of Luke.
In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter and John become instruments of healing for a beggar and the whole crowd gets stirred up with excitement.
Then Peter addresses the crowd with an exhortation that is brought to a close with these words, "For you first, God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways."
To bless you by by turning you from your evil ways.
Think about that phrase for a moment and what reality it signifies.
We think of blessings normally on another line of thought. We think of God blessing us with good health. Many preachers today proclaim blessing in the form of prosperity or wealth. We often think of blessing to show itself in a new position or status, perhaps fertility, maybe a break through in particular relationships.
But when have we thought of a blessing as god moving us beyond wicked ways. God wants to send us freedom to be no longer bound by the sins we commit and the tempting spell we fall under time and time again.
To bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.
Ponder that for today. Evaluate your life and see where God's blessing is trying to break into your life for a change for the better, for the good.
We glance at the gospel for today. We read that it is Jesus himself who "opens their minds to understand the scriptures." One of the first things that get a deeper understanding for is the necessity of the cross, "thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. Yo are witnesses of these things."
There is no detour around the cross for Christ or for us. The more we enter in to the cross, dead, resurrection of Christ, the more we are able to live as witnesses of "these things."
Luke paints for us the bedrock of all preaching in the early church.
Jesus' passion in the possibility for our repentance and thus transformation. The condition for the possibility of renewal comes through the cross.
Think about how many communities remove the cross from their sanctuaries because it is a downer. Yet, Jesus doesn't remove it. Grace is not cheap though it is free.
We must be witnesses of that reality daily in our life.