Word on Wednesday – by John Mason
‘Passionate’… May 27, 2015
The author, Roald Dahl in, My Uncle Oswald, wrote, “I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. He taught me that if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.”
In this season of Pentecost it is good to ask, ‘What, if anything, is God passionate about?’
We find a real clue in the events that developed on the Day of Pentecost following the first Easter, when, Dr. Luke tells us, the Spirit of God was poured out on the disciples. Despite the danger to their lives they went out on the streets of Jerusalem preaching. “Men of Israel,” Peter declared, “Listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. …And you, …put him to death …but God raised him from the dead, …” (Acts 2:22ff).
In his sermon that day, Peter was not introducing a religion or a set of rules, but a person. He did this by focusing on Jesus’ life and the miracles he performed – healing the sick, casting out evil spirits, stilling a storm, even raising the dead. While many today mock the idea of Jesus’ miracles, first century historians such as the Jewish historian, Josephus, wrote of Jesus as a ‘wonder worker’. Peter’s words reflect Jesus’ own words when he said: “If I by the finger of God cast out demons, then the kingdom of God is come upon you.”
Peter, logically and clearly, developed his major theme: Jesus, through his death and resurrection is, as King David had prophesied, uniquely “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter’s words that day about the cross and the reality of the resurrection lie at the heart of his message. Men had judged Jesus guilty and nailed him to a cross. God however, as the ultimate Supreme Court Judge, overturned that judgement and raised Jesus to life. And notice the response, which we read in Acts 2:37f: Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven;…”
It was as though the eyes of Peter’s hearers had been closed as to who Jesus really was. Now through Peter’s words and the Spirit’s work they saw. Whereas they had mocked and jeered when Jesus had died, had laughed when they heard Jesus’ followers that morning, now they were cut to the heart. Three thousand responded to Peter’s call to repent and be baptised – thousands more than had given their lives to Jesus as the Christ during the course of his public ministry.
The Spirit had enabled the people to hear the disciples in their own native tongue earlier that day. Now, the Spirit was taking Peter’s words and opening their eyes to the truth that Jesus is the Messiah, the Lord with whom we all have to do business.
It is extraordinary that the God of the universe is passionate about rescuing men and women who ignore him. Furthermore, we need to note that God now calls on each of us who has turned to the Lord Jesus, to be involved with Him in his gospel work. The question is, do we share God’s passion?
© John G. Mason, www.anglicanconnection.com
Note 1: Sermons I preached at Christ Church NYC on John 14-17 (April 5-May 17, 2015) can be found at http://anglicanconnection.com/sermons/knowing-god/