Acts 2:14a, 22-24, 32-33, 36 - But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: "... Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know—this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. ... This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being 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 yourselves are seeing and hearing. ... Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."
When I hear what Peter is saying, it makes me wonder why his listeners didn't run away. After all, he's basically calling them murderers! He's saying things like, "This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men," and again, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified." How can they stand to listen to him?
And Peter is not talking just to the Israelites in front of him; he's talking to us, too—every one of us who has ever rebelled against God. It was our sin that sent Jesus to the cross; it is our hands which are red with His blood. And that is unbearable. Better to deny it; better to hide from our responsibility; better to put the blame on someone else.
And yet—Peter can say these things, and we can accept them, for one reason only—because Jesus transformed the great evil we did to Him into the most wonderful act of love we have ever seen. Because He went to that cross willingly, didn't He? He cooperated with our murder, if we can use that word. And by doing that, He redeemed us and made us new, clean people, forgiven and loved. All our evil is taken away. Nothing remains but us—God's children, living in Christ Himself, the Son of God. And Jesus will not condemn us.
That is the only way we can face Peter's accusation—or any of the sins of our past, which cut our hearts so deeply and scar our memories. It's only possible to face those things when Jesus has us safe in His hands, reminding us how much He loves us—saying, again and again, that we are forgiven. Then we can finally develop the strength to face the guilt and shame that have haunted us all our lives. We cannot do it on our own. But standing at the side of the crucified and risen Jesus, who loves us—yes. We can finally face and be done with the past, because Jesus is our present and our future—and in Him we have love, peace, and hope. Our sins are gone. Jesus remains.
WE PRAY: Lord, help me when I must face pain, and be my healer and Savior. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. Is it easier to trust someone who loves you or someone who does not?
2. Why, exactly?
3. What do you do when you feel guilty?
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