Mr. Stevens yelled at his employees. Yes, as a manager at a fast food joint in Homestead, Florida, he firmly believed that if he yelled at them, then they would listen to him. So, when one employee shared his career goal of becoming a chef, Mr. Stevens
Can you just imagine the sheer horror spreading across Mr. Stevens’ face? He verbally attacked his employees. He abused them. He even so smugly challenged the authority of his boss! Now he stands in front of the judge who holds his livelihood in his hands!
Maybe that is what many love watching when it comes to revealing a hidden, but powerful identity: Justice is served. Yet, when the tables are turned and you are the one caught red-handed by a powerful identity, well, you can feel the hope drain out of life. And when Peter points at you and trumpets: “You challenged the authority of God!” What shall you do? Let’s Be Sure: Jesus is ‘Lord’ and ‘Christ.’ This truth cuts to the heart. This truth creates new life.
This truth could not be ignored. Peter’s own eyes took in the sights of an empty tomb. His ears heard Jesus breathe: “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19). His fingers touched real flesh and blood. Jesus is not dead; he is risen indeed! Yet, fifty days after Easter, life returned to normal and so many people act as though nothing happened.
Something did happen— an event no one can ignore or shrug off or pass over. Peter stands up in Jerusalem’s city square to let everyone know. “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” This Jewish nation knew exactly who Jesus was. He is the carpenter’s Son, the teacher in the synagogue, the man who healed their neighbors. And Peter shouts: “You crucified him! You laughed at his authority, mocked his miracles, cut his Word out of your heart, and sent innocent life to death! You cannot blame Pilate for complying with your chants of ‘Crucify!’ He tried to calm you down, but you pushed harder. You cannot hide behind soldiers; they did what you asked them to do. You cannot look at the pitch-black sky, the earthquakes shaking the earth, and the dead coming to life and shrug it off, acting as though nothing divine was happening. You killed the Son of God! You crucified this Jesus!”
That’s right, “you” crucified Jesus. Not just this Jewish nation, but you and I as well. I know, you did not actually pound nails into his hands and you didn’t taunt him and mock his miracles. You were not even born to be there on Calvary! Yet, you made it necessary for Jesus to be crucified. You, who confess every Sunday that your ‘Lord’ is seated at God’s right hand in power— and yet you still worry about your future. You, who believe Jesus ‘Christ’ preaches for your ears— and yet you still found reasons why the Bible’s clear teachings on marriage still do not apply to you or why you can rip into your neighbor’s reputation or why your daily schedule cannot prioritize even ten minutes each day of Bible reading!
Yes, even right now, you can create a mountain of excuses: “Well, I am human after all, I’m just fearful over where the world is heading.” You can defend your case: “Well, my family deserves my anger.” You can justify your stance: “Well, my schedule is too busy for God every day.” But know this: Jesus is not crucified for the rebellion of your neighbor or spouse or child or the person next to you. Your behavior made it necessary for Jesus to be crucified.
If hearing this makes you squeamish, then God’s Law is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. Remember what God’s “Law” means? (Catechism students? Bible class attendees?) God’s Law is a list of “Do this!” and “Don’t do that!” “Do” be perfect! “Do not” be anything less than perfect! If you obey it always, you have eternal life (Proverbs 11:18). Fail and you reap death (Romans 6:23).
So, why do you need to hear this? After all, no one admits they are perfect. Isn’t that the reason why— because you aren’t perfect? The sinful nature within you hears these commands and bristles. It creates those myriad of excuses: “Yes, but…” “ I don’t need to hear this anymore…” “Everyone does it…” “It’s no big deal.” Your sinful nature will try to shrink the seriousness of sin so much that you too are tempted to shrug off sin’s consequences. If you think rebellion against a holy God is nothing significant, then you will soon think you do not need a Savior— just the like the Jews thought. Like them, you will reject his Word for your life. You will mock his promises. You may even reject any use for him at all!
Instead of running away from God’s Law or trying to soften its stinging words, let This truth cut the heart. Listen to God’s Law. Let it expose your failures and faults as they truly are. Let it kick out any excuses, remove every hiding place, and take away every defense. Let God’s Law slice you to pieces so that you appreciate more fully just what God has done for you. Let this truth create new life.
Just look at the crowds’ reaction. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” No excuses. No defense. No scrambling around to figure out a way to make things better. Just a simple: “God, I confess that I am by nature sinful… Have mercy on me, a sinner.”And Peter replied, “Repent… which means: “Turn!” (like making a U-turn).
You do. Not because you realize how far you have fallen and that you need to choose Jesus as your Savior. The Bible clearly teaches that you and I do not choose to come to faith (John 15:16; Romans 10:17). That is what God has done; he has brought Jesus into your life.
When you are baptized, the water and the Word joins you to Jesus Christ and Jesus puts his name on you, claiming you as his own. [B]e baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ. Do not overlook his titles. Names have meaning. “Lord” means “master” or “one in authority.” When Peter calls Jesus “Lord,” he means that Jesus holds authority. No other person has the ability to control the weather or universe as Jesus does. No other human being has the privilege, right, or power to judge the living and the dead.
Not only is Jesus “Lord,” but also “Christ.” Remember, “Christ” means “Anointed One.” To “anoint” someone means to “mark” them or “set them aside” for a specific mission. The “Christ” would be “set aside” for the special work of removing the sins of the world. No one would miss the “Christ.” The life of “Christ” would match up to every single Old Testament prophecy. Be Sure: Jesus is ‘Lord’ and ‘Christ.’
Be Sure that your ‘Lord’ is perfect— never spewing out filth against his neighbor or fearing for his life. Be sure that your ‘Christ’ is without sin— always spending time with God—even though he is God! He meets the demands of God’s Law in your place. Jesus fulfills the role of “Christ” by removing your every sin.
That is why, when you are baptized, the Holy Spirit applies forgiveness to you. To “forgive” means to send away or to cancel (like releasing a dove to fly away). If God “sends away” your sins, then they are forever gone! If God “cancels” out what you owe him, then you owe him nothing! Your every single sin is removed, forgotten, cancelled out, and never brought up again.
This is a promise for you— and Peter stresses that. For you and your children and for all who are far off— for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Yes, this gift is for the Jews who killed Jesus. Their unbelief was not too bad for God to forgive. This gift of forgiveness is for you—regardless of your past and present. This gift of forgiveness means you will have a blessed future with God.
So, when Peter pleads: “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation,” you can be sure you are saved, rescued, delivered, set aside from a generation that still scorns its Lord. Your baptism has washed away sin and marks you as a child of God. This truth creates new life.
Yes, it means you are different; you live different from a corrupt generation. The Holy Spirit lives within you. He strengthens you with the Word. He helps you to fight temptation. He increases your reliance on God and every single promise he makes.
The Holy Spirit continues bringing you back to the hope of eternal life. You know, there will be times when guilt throws you into despair. Maybe your remember some foolish thing you did years ago. Maybe your words are still fresh in your mind. Perhaps you wonder if God’s forgiveness sounds too good to be true. The temptation is to look into yourself and find a reason to believe you are saved. Yet, is that where Peter points you? To yourself? No! He points you back to the work of Jesus.
Be Sure: Jesus is ‘Lord’ and ‘Christ.’ Your ‘Lord’ is God himself. Your ‘Christ’ lived a perfect life for you. That is a fact. It does not change with how you feel today. Your guilt does not undo the fact Jesus had no guilt. When Jesus died, he made payment for sin. This became yours personally at your baptism. The Holy Spirit brought into your heart. When guilt flares up, point to the cross, point to the baptismal font and say: “Jesus died for me to forgive me!” Live Sure: Jesus is ‘Lord’ and ‘Christ.’
The more you study it, the more your appreciation for God’s tremendous love will grow. The more you will gladly serve him, study his Word, and give him thanks. This truth creates new life.
You could say Mr. Stevens lived an entirely new life too. His CEO exposed his every shortcoming and failure. There was nowhere for Mr. Stevens to hide, no excuse he could make, no reason he should keep his job; he was caught red-handed. And yet, his CEO forgave him.
So, how do you think Mr. Stevens manages now? Well, you guessed it: more generous, kind, and compassionate. His life has changed.
Just like God has changed your life. Your world— even people you may know— may love defending their wrongs. They may hold up reasons why God must love them. It will be tempting for you to do the same. Yet, let God’s Law cut into you. It hurts. Others may tell you it is unnecessary, but God knows his Law is necessary. It cuts into you so that you may have new life. A new life with him in heaven. A new life to thank him with your behavior. A new life which relies on his promises more and more. Be Sure: Jesus is ‘Lord’ and ‘Christ.’ This truth cuts to the heart. This truth creates new life.