Forty is a reoccurring number in the Bible. To name a few instances, Genesis tells of Noah’s ark and the flood that took place for 40 days. The Israelites wandered in the desert to get to the Promised Land for 40 years. Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days. Now, the story today tells us 40 days after Peter denies Jesus, Peter addresses a crowd and gives a sermon of a lifetime.
Peter interprets the profound event of Pentecost – when the Holy Spirit came and dwelt among all the people (the beginning of chapter 2). He gives evidence through the Scriptures and then declares in verse 36, “God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Peter declares his belief in Jesus changes things. This belief changes my approach of day to day life. I constantly strive to see the world through the Easter message.
Here’s my belief: Life is full of hard, suffering. Christianity does not negate this nor tell that because you are a Christian you will not go through the hard times. In fact it is quite the opposite. God embraces the suffering and hardship….and transforms it! As we declare at Easter, suffering, death, pain, hardships in life are never, ever, ever the end. They are never the last word.
Though there may be 40 days of wilderness, darkness, suffering, there is always hope, light, love and the power of the resurrection. Jesus Christ declares this through his life, death and resurrection! This is day to day life!
So great message, but what do we do about it? What did the people do when they heard that God was the Lord and Messiah? They were “cut to the heart” (v.37 The followers were invited to live in a new way. To repent – ask forgiveness for their sins (I do this each day) and claim the new identity of being a follower of Christ (again, a daily practice). They, like us, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. God with us in all parts of our lives.
So how do we continue to be reminded of this message? Take a peek in verse 42 (not in today’s reading, but just one extra verse.) The followers devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers.
My prayer for you this day is that we may be people that continue to proclaim the Easter message with boldness. We may need to preach this to ourselves, too! We also may share this good news with those around us who need to know that suffering is not the end. May we be people that are “cut to the heart” and live in a new way through the next 40 days and years of your life!