Acts 2, 29-31
‘Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying,
"He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption."
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
Having history with someone is a powerful thing. Shared experiences; familiar places; funny memories; struggles survived and heroes in common – all these things create the sense of a shared story, and a strong bond.
And when you can trace your roots back to someone important, or simply back over hundreds of years, it provides a sense of grounding, or sometimes even position, which anchors the present and gives hope for the future.
The Jewish people have a particularly strong sense of shared history. They often recount to each other (both in scripture and in modern practice) the Patriarchs, the Exodus, kings, prophets, exile, and the return in order to remember who they are - and most importantly, of course, who their God is.
In verses 29-31, Peter appeals to this history to ground his message about Jesus the Messiah. By referring to David at this point, Peter achieves a number of important things to validate his message:
Firstly he emphasises the commonality of the crowd. Everyone there knows about David – he gets more mentions in the Old Testament than anyone else – so in the context of Roman occupation, this is a bit like a mass, feel-good reminisce about the good old days; the glory age of Israel as a people.
Secondly he anchors everything that has happened with Jesus in the context of history – illuminating not just Jesus’ own triumph, but how history and prophecy point to this Messiah, and the details that point to him as the Christ.
And lastly, he underlines the fact that Jesus, and his followers, are relevant, and part of, the crowd – the message he gives is as much theirs as his.
So what about us?
This message is as powerful for us today as it was for the crowd Peter addressed two thousand years ago. In Christ all gentiles become part of this great story of God seeking and loving a people for himself.
And because Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are rooted in past history nothing can ever change them. We have hope in the present because of what he has finished, and this hope transforms our future as we realign our lives to his story.
This is a message that is relevant to everyone – God gave his Son because he loved the world. It was good news to the poor then, and it’s good news to the poor now as we partner with Jesus through his Holy Spirit to bring the kingdom’s promise of ‘no more poverty’ into the present.
Something to do
Quiet your heart and remember Jesus’ grace, mercy and forgiveness. Wash your hands and thank God that he has taken away your history and replaced it with his story.
Commit your present to him by jotting down anything that you are concerned or anxious about today, then fold it up and imagine you are placing it at the foot of the cross.
And trust him with your future by choosing to leave it there, and rejoice that he has done it all for yesterday, today, and forever.
Something to pray
Lord Jesus thank you that you lived and died in history,
For the disciples, for a crowd in Jerusalem, for me and for the world.
Thank you that nothing can ever change what you have done
And that it is done – finished – on our behalf.
Today I come to your cross of grace and receive your mercy and forgiveness,
And tomorrow I can do the same.
Your love never changes, and you fulfil everything you say you will do.
I surrender my past to you; I trust you with my present; and I commit my future to you.
Fill me anew with your Holy Spirit so that I may make my story all about your story
And work with you to transform history for your praise and your glory, and for the sake of all you love who suffer.
Today’s contributor is Liz Baddaley, a former staff member of Christian Aid. She is a worship leader, song-writer, freelance writer and editor specialising in Bible study and worship resources for charities. She is also the co-founder ofwww.thesanctuarycentre.org