S (Scripture): Acts 3:17 [Peter said to the crowd on Solomon’s Portico] “And now, brothers, I know you acted in ignorance, as your rulers did too. 18 But the things God foretold long ago through all the prophets – that his Christ would suffer – he has fulfilled in this way. 19 Therefore repent and turn back so that your sins may be wiped out, 20 so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and so that he may send the Messiah appointed for you – that is, Jesus. 21 This one heaven must receive until the time all things are restored, which God declared from times long ago through his holy prophets.”
O (Observation): Having healed the lame man, Peter re-emphasizes that Jesus – the one who’s power made the lame man walk – was the one the people crucified. Yet he also points out that this was predicted by the prophets.
Despite the prediction, the people are not innocent of their wrongdoing. Thus, repentance is in order. Peter reminds them of the necessity of this repentance. The joy that comes from this repentance is that Jesus will be coming back for all believers.
But for now…heaven waits for the right time to release Christ from coming back.
A (Application): What culpability do I retain for wrongdoings of the culture around me? Am I colluding with a culture that causes poverty? Racism? Sexism? Xenophobia?
If I was in the crowd, and didn’t say anything for or against Jesus, where would that put me?
I think I would land firmly in the camp of those needing to repent. Just because I didn’t do anything overtly AGAINST someone, if I don’t stand up for someone…perhaps the work I’ve left undone calls for repentance.
Now, we can’t do everything, nor or we expected to do everything. But perhaps we can repent of what we have done or left undone, and move forward with God’s grace…follow God’s call.
After all, repentance is not about staying down in the doldrums, but rather, to open up the flood of God’s grace to lift us up and equip us for the work ahead.
“But what did I do?” was a phrase I used as a kid, when I was lumped in with a guilty group. And today, I still say that same phrase in my own mind, when I’m feeling guilty about something that harms my neighbor. Maybe I didn’t do anything wrong, but maybe I also didn’t do something when I could have. Maybe next time I will act.
The next time you worhship in a place in which Confession and Forgiveness is a corporate act, pay attention and see that this is indeed a time of Good News for our redemption.
And if you feel so moved, help out! With a homeless Ministry. With an after-school program. With handing out meals at a local food shelter. Your blessings will bless others.
P (Prayer): Lord, you know what deeds we have done and have left undone. Be with us. Redeem us. Equip us. Amen.