01 June 2014
Scripture quoted is from the CEB, ©2011 The Common English Bible
If you were given the assignment to summarize the gospel (or good news -- that’s what the word “gospel” means -- good news). If you were given the assignment of summarizing the gospel of Jesus Christ in one -- or perhaps two sentences -- what would you say?
Those are a lot of good -- very biblical answers. There are many ways that the gospel can be expressed.
Here in Acts 10 Peter preaches a sermon that he builds on his single summary statement in vs 36:
“This is the message of peace he sent to the Israelites by proclaiming the good news through Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all!”In our conversational English class on Wednesday we were talking about this verse for a little bit. We sometimes talk about the Bible. And someone said that she didn’t understand what the word “Lord” meant.
So we played with a few definitions and I think the consensus of the group ended up being “Supreme Leader.”
And this is the power word of the day for those trying to learn English -- LORD. Lord means master or in some contexts a supreme master or supreme leader. In ancient Hebrew thinking God himself was seen as the supreme leader.
Now, supreme leader is a title currently used in North Korea and Iran. It’s been used by several dozen -- mostly shady characters in the modern era.
And in some ways the first century Caesars were shady characters who saw themselves as the supreme leaders -- not so different from the tyrants who embrace the title today.
So when Jesus’ followers started using that title for him -- albeit in a richer, deeper, and non-shady way -- it was startling.
The message of the good news is that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. In a nutshell that’s Peter’s gospel presentation. Everything else he says is an unpacking of that core statement. Basically Peter is saying -- if you miss everything I say, except for one sentence -- get this -- JESUS CHRIST IS LORD OF ALL.
The apostle Paul also uses Jesus is Lord as a summary statement -- for example in Romans 10:9 --
“Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”OR Philippians 2:10-11 --
“at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth, and under the earth might bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”And indeed, this is commonly recognized at the church’s first creedal statement -- Jesus is Lord. Or as Peter puts it HE IS LORD OF ALL!
That’s a pretty radical proclamation to make in front of a Roman Centurion -- even if he seemed to be friendly. It was a gutsy and risky statement.
For the whole Roman empire at that time in history, that which Cornelius the centurion was sworn to uphold, was built on the idea that Ceasar is Lord. And when Ceasar -- the emperor demanded that he be recognized as such he didn’t make a distinction between Lord with a capital L and lord with a lower case L. He saw himself as in some ways being divine -- and in need of such recognition.
In the sacramentum the Roman soldier would annually pledge his allegiance to the emperor -- recognizing him as the supreme leader -- as lord -- every January 3rd they had a sacramentum ceremony.
By the way, we get our word sacrament from sacramentum -- except it’s not exactly what you might think. In the sacraments it is God pledging himself to us through the gifts of baptism and holy communion. The emphasis is on his good Word -- his faithfulness -- his pledge. That’s what charges us and energizes us as followers of the Lord Jesus. But I’m off on a bunny trail -- sort of.
So back to Peter’s point here in Acts 10 -- Jesus Christ is Lord of all. He is the supreme leader in all that he has done and all that he is.
And really there are two practical ways that this impacts us Jesus people. When Peter says that Jesus is Lord, first of all it means that JESUS IS LORD OF ALL PEOPLE.
Think about this statement in terms of Acts 1:8. Why is it important that the gospel go to the ends of the earth if it’s not for all people?
Check out vss 34-35 --
Peter said, “I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another. 35 Rather, in every nation, whoever worships him and does what is right is acceptable to him.Up to this point God showed a bit of partiality to the Jews in order to move his plan for the world forward. But with the coming of Jesus the messiah -- everything changes -- we transition to a new leg of a the journey and we start to see just how impartial God is.
If you get the message of Acts 1:8 you get the flow of the whole Bible --
Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”In spite of the psalms and in spite of the prophets, the Jews thought of the Lord God -- Yahweh -- as their own private deity -- their personal rabbit’s foot. But now the truth is finally told in a clear and concise manner -- HE IS LORD OF ALL.
The walls between Jews and non-Jews -- Gentiles -- are hereby declared null and void. God is the supreme leader of all people. He is impartial -- embracing all who would embrace him. And ultimately he will judge all -- that is, make things right in the whole world. He is the fount of justice. Thus vs 42 --
He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.Fairness and justice are on the way!
So, you’re still thinking that you’re second class in God’s sight because
- you don’t come from the right side of the tracks --
- you didn’t get a good education --
- you have a different language
- or a different tone of skin than the people with power --
- you do the wrong kind of work
- or you haven’t been able to get work
- or maybe you’re struggling with a health issue -- depression or worse...
Well, says Peter, who was himself a recovering bigot, think again.
In vss 37-42 Peter starts to unpack his gospel statement -- telling how Jesus did great things but ended up on a cross anyway -- but then God raised him from the grave on the third day. The resurrected Jesus was seen by the apostles who were sent out as witnesses. And their message, coupled with that of the ancient prophets -- levels the playing field. That’s Peter’s argument. Vs 43 --
All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.Everyone!
- young or old --
- female or male --
- red or yellow, black or white --
- religious or not --
- inked or not --
- murderer or chicken --
- successful or failure --
Whoever you are, whatever your clan, wherever you’re from, whatever you’ve done, whatever you’re struggling with -- you are forgiven for all that you’ve done wrong and all that is wrong with you -- and you can receive the forgiveness that is yours by putting your trust in him. Relief from the guilt and shame.
Now, if this isn’t enough to make Peter’s point -- Vs 44 --
While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on everyone who heard the word. 45 The circumcised believers (that is the Jews) who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 They heard them speaking in other languages and praising God.This kind of outpouring of the Holy Spirit was obviously mirroring what had happened to the Jews at Pentecost -- as recorded in Acts 2. If the Spirit is poured out on believing gentiles in the same way that it was poured out on the Jewish followers of Jesus -- how can we not accept them as sisters and brothers in Christ?
Peter asked, 47 “These people have received the Holy Spirit just as we have. Surely no one can stop them from being baptized with water, can they?” 48 He directed that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.Jesus is Lord over all people.
Secondly, the lord of all statement means that JESUS IS LORD OVER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. To be lord is to be sovereign. This means that no matter what hits you… No matter what happens… Ultimately God redeems it and uses it as a part of his plan to put his creation back in order.
So, when he interjects himself into human history as the Son of God -- as Jesus -- he models the new creation as he dies to make it happen and invites us to join him and his cause.
36 This is the message of peace he sent to the Israelites by proclaiming the good news through Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all!In the Jewish framework “PEACE” is a code word not so much for lack of conflict but for the health and well-being that God intends for his world. The fact that Jesus is Lord is the starting point for peace. And it is entirely possible to be at full peace with bullets whizzing past your head. This is because you’re living in the future -- the era of shalom-- the time of peace when the Lord judges and reigns.
38 You know about Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit and endowed with power. Jesus traveled around doing good and healing everyone oppressed by the devil because God was with him. 39 We are witnesses of everything he did, both in Judea and in Jerusalem.Jesus modeled how this peace -- how this gospel would be carried out. Maybe model is too weak a word -- rather we might say he got the ball rolling. He did “good” in a bad time. And he healed those oppressed by the devil. That is, he showed that he was the Lord -- that he was the supreme ruler over all these circumstances.
Whenever he attempted to heal someone he was always successful. His track record was even better than modern medicine. And I’m convinced that modern medicine actually works into his scheme. It’s all healing -- restoration. It’s all bringing honor and glory to God.
41 We are witnesses whom God chose beforehand, who ate and drank with him after God raised him from the dead.This is a reflective statement. The apostle Peter is saying, you know, as we look back on everything that happened, we realize that we were chosen early on to be witnesses of the resurrection -- even before we realized what was going on.
In his sovereignty over all circumstances God was using us. The point is that nothing escapes his lordship -- nothing is a loss as far as the kingdom of God is concerned -- it all gets worked into his plan. We may through our poor choices not experience the fullness of what God intends but even our mistakes and weaknesses become threads in the lordship tapestry.
And that should be good news to you -- especially if you’ve experienced a lot of ickiness in your life. As supreme leader he will take those circumstances create the best possible outcome. For Jesus is the Lord over all people and circumstances.
That is the Key Point this morning -- JESUS IS LORD OVER ALL PEOPLE AND CIRCUMSTANCES.
And I want to encourage you to embrace Jesus as the supreme leader that he is. And this isn’t just a once in a lifetime decision but a moment by moment choice.
Again, this is an invitation regardless of who you are or what kind of person you are. Quit trying to fix your life on your own and lean on Jesus as the Lord of all.
This is my cane. Perhaps you’ve seen me use it on occasion. I have some arthritis and joint problems. And there are occasional days when I have trouble standing on my own -- especially in the morning. Things are going pretty well right now. I’ve been pretty pain free for a couple of weeks. I suspect, though, that the problem will cycle back around.
But I don’t worry about it. Because when I’m leaning on my cane I can do everything I’m called to do. It’s a temporary fix -- as are all healings -- but we all anticipate the day when all that is temporarily made well will be at total peace -- when every arthritic knee will bow and rebellious tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
For that is who he is -- Jesus is the Lord over all people and circumstances. And now matter who you are or what you’re going through you can lean on him. He’ll get you going now -- and ultimately the future under the supreme leader looks even brighter.
And that’s the good news.