Now this is a very different Peter than the one we normally talk about and see, am I right? We typically see Peter as the doubter, as a denier, as the one who holds back in his convictions, who doesn’t want to say yes or no or do what needs to be done in the name of Jesus.
Yet this Peter is completely different. He’s bold. He’s strong in his beliefs and in his faith. He’s standing by his convictions as he talks to those who were once like him. It’s as if the faith button has finally been fully switched on inside of him. As if someone flipped the breaker to prophecy and proclamation in his head, and he can’t stop himself.
Peter has gotten the passion of Christ, the wind of the Holy Spirit placed in his heart, and he is compelled to go along with it all. This passage is evidence of the transformation Peter has just got through in the Pentecost experience. I skipped that in the scripture this week, by the way, so if you want to read about this experience refer back to earlier in Chapter 2.
The Pentecost experience was a moment of transformation, of the coming of the Holy Spirit, of a time when people changed. When they received the Spirit, when they understood their faith and their convictions. Some would say this is when Peter was born again. Some would say this is Peter taking on the role of his call from God, his role to be a pastor and evangelist to all those surrounding him.
“But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them.” He’s talking to all those who are doubting, those Jewish people who are staring at him with confusion, doubt, and dislike in their eyes. He’s standing before then with conviction in his heart, and God’s words on his lips.
There is a theme the runs throughout the book of Acts, and it’s put very succinctly in this first sermon of Peter’s. Jesus is the Messiah, which is confirmed in the resurrection, and through Jesus, God fulfilled the promise to save us from sin and death. It seems like a simple theme, like a theme and a belief that we all hold true to this day.
That’s because the people Peter is speaking with listened to him. It’s a skill that we seem to have forgotten or lost over the years, but it’s one we need to bring back. Listening is key. Listening to our influences, whether it’s the scriptures, the preacher, the elders in the congregation, or other people or leaders in our world. We need to listen to what is going on, listen to where the wind of the Holy Spirit is taking us, listen for the words whispered by our Savior.
As Peter stands with the eleven, this is the first time believers in the resurrection, those who will eventually be called Christians, those who stand out because they believed Jesus was the Messiah, this is the first time they have stood and openly talked about their beliefs. That’s a miracle in and of itself. The book of Acts is the start of proclamation of our convictions and beliefs. It’s the start of how we as a movement and a church began to tell the story of Jesus.
Peter is talking to people who are different than him but who have similar convictions; they have commonalities. He’s using influencers of his time to tell them about what has happened to him. He brings up scriptures and prophets that these Jews would know and trust and believe. He tells them about how Jesus has fulfilled those prophecies. He talks about Jesus’ life, not just the signs and wonders and miracles he performed, but he tells them about who Jesus was: his life, his death, and his resurrection.
How do we do that now? It’s not as easy now. We can easily bring up the prophet Joel, but unless you’re already inside the church, Jewish or Christian or Muslim, you’re not going to know who Joel is. How do we talk to the people of this world who are so very different than us? How do we find the commonalities we need to share our beliefs and convictions and love of Jesus, to share the story of Jesus’ life?
This is where we can certainly learn a lot from Acts and from Peter himself. The people Peter was talking to were gathered by the wind; that is, they were brought together by the Holy Spirit. They may have been from different classes, different races, different lives entirely, but they were there for one reason. The Holy Spirit brought them there.
Peter recognized that, and he used it to his advantage. The same is in our churches today. We don’t come from the same places. We need to recognize that. Some of us are still struggling with our demons while others of us have put them to rest. But it is the Holy Spirit, the power of the Spirit, who brought us here together, to worship and praise our Lord, to be saved from sin and death.
Sometimes our beliefs and our experiences can feel and seem so different. But the commonality between us is God, it’s the power of the Holy Spirit, it’s the wonders of our Messiah and believing in his resurrection. These are what can bring us together to form a community, to bring others into the community. But what comes with listening and recognizing our commonalities is also the proclamation.
Proclamation is what Peter is doing. He is openly declaring his faith. He is listening to those around him, how to speak to them. He know they respect and listen to the prophet Joel, so he uses Joel in his sermon. So don’t get mad if I through in Big Bang Theory, Talladega Nights, or some other pop-culture reference. I’m trying to speak to what we recognize, to use words we know and can find connection to.
We have to learn how to speak to each other. Some people love the thee’s and thou’s of the King James Bible, and others don’t even know what thee and thou means. But there’s still the call from Peter and from God that we need to listen to each other, we need to find our commonalities, and we need to proclaim our faith.
Proclaim our faith by stating, I believe. I believe the Jesus is the Messiah, as is proven by his resurrection, his defeating of death itself. I believe that through Jesus God fulfilled the promise that was given to us, the promise of defeating death and sin. I believe this because I know Jesus died, I know he was raised from the dead, and I know he is alive today.
That’s Peter’s message. That is what he is telling us. Jesus is the Messiah. We are witnesses to his life, death, and resurrection. We are the ones who are to proclaim our faith him the Messiah, our love of our God, and how we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. We are the ones who have had that button switched on in our lives, and now it’s time for us to go out and switch it on for others. We are gathered by the wind, the wind of the Holy Spirit that blew at Pentecost, and we are the witness to how Jesus is alive today.