You are given the opportunity to say what you have always wanted to. What would you say?
Peter is responding to the crowd. These words actually come on the day of Pentecost, after the people have heard the coming of the Holy Spirit. The crowd is very confused about what has happened and is happening, and so Peter sets out to tell them – not just what it means – but also what they should do about it. Words they need to hear if they are to begin to understand what Jesus was about and what he means.
Acts 2:14a, 36-41 (CEV)
Peter Speaks to the Crowd
14 Peter stood with the eleven apostles and spoke in a loud and clear voice to the crowd:
Friends and everyone else living in Jerusalem, listen carefully to what I have to say!
36 Everyone in Israel should then know for certain that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ, even though you put him to death on a cross.
37 When the people heard this, they were very upset. They asked Peter and the other apostles, “Friends, what shall we do?”
38 Peter said, “Turn back to God! Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven. Then you will be given the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is for you and your children. It is for everyone our Lord God will choose, no matter where they live.”
40 Peter told them many other things as well. Then he said, “I beg you to save yourselves from what will happen to all these evil people.” 41 On that day about three thousand believed his message and were baptized.
The people seem genuinely upset that anyone should think that they put Jesus to death. But there doesn’t seem to be any argument about it. Perhaps there is a dawning recognition that someone should have stopped what was happening to Jesus during his trial, maybe stood up for Jesus, or listened to what he had to say; certainly not just going with the mob. A growing realisation that Peter is right and Jesus was and is Lord, and they, collectively, have crucified him, if not by doing it, by not stopping it. They recognise their place, their part in his death.
So they want to know what to do. How can they put right the injustice they have allowed to steam roller on? The things they have done that caused his death?
Peter reassures them. Actually it is quite simple. They need to turn back to him and they will be forgiven. The hardest part is realising what we’ve done, from then God deals with it.
This is Peter speaking. Remember Peter? The one who denied that he knew Jesus on that dreadful night, the one who refused to speak up, when who knows what word might have changed the course of things. Yet he has found God’s forgiveness and restoration. He can tell them with certainty that they can know it too.
And so the truth is, whatever we realise we have done, whatever part we know we have played in the crucifixion of Jesus, there is forgiveness, hope and new life. The very God who has been offended and attacked forgives us. We need no longer live in fear or shame, for as we turn to God and seek his forgiveness, he gives it.
Seeking forgiveness may not seem simple, it may be a struggle – but God waits, he promises, he forgives as we can come to him.
as I reflect,
I can see my part
in your death.
The things I have done,
that have been another nail,
holding you to the cross.
I realise that I am
as responsible as anyone.
So what can I do?
longing for your forgiveness,
knowing that you give it,
replacing my guilt
with your Holy Spirit.
for doing that,
for forgiving me,
setting me free
from the stupid things I have done,
the wilful things,
things that have hurt you,
those around me
that something can be done,
all is not lost
and you give me new life.