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Worship 8:00 AM
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Worship 10:30 AM

The Risen Christ Has Power

2nd Sunday of Easter

April 8, 2018

Lincoln Heights Lutheran Church

The Risen Christ Has Power

 

Acts 3:12–20 (NIV84)
When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. 17 Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.

Dear Friends in Christ,

It is the Sunday after Easter. We had a joy filled celebration of Christ’s resurrection last week. We continue in the season of Easter for weeks but it is sometimes difficult to sustain the joy week after week even though every Sunday is a little celebration of Easter.

Peter and John had been the first of the disciples to the empty tomb on Easter, arriving after the women returned from the empty tomb. These disciples experienced the joy of seeing Jesus alive on Easter Sunday evening in the locked room and again the next Sunday evening. This time with Thomas as well. They had the joy of being with the risen Savior off and on for forty days. His power over death was on display as he walked, talked and ate with them. He was really alive. His power was on display as he appeared behind locked doors, gave them a miraculous catch of fish and in his ascension into heaven. The power of God was on display as the disciples received the power of the Holy Spirit to boldly preach the gospel.

It is now after Pentecost. Would the joy of Christ’s resurrection continue for them? Would the power of Christ still be on display? Yes. In a similar way, the power of the risen Christ is still at work today. The Risen Christ Has Power. He showed it then by completely healing a man’s body. The power of the risen Christ continues to be shown today as he wipes away sin. The Risen Christ Has Power.

To Completely Heal Bodies

Some day shortly after Pentecost, Peter and John met a man near a gate in the temple courts. This man had been crippled from birth and was brought each day to beg at this gate. He asked Peter and John for money and was instead healed. His legs grew strong and he walked, more than that, he jumped around praising God. This man had been a fixture at that temple gate. If you went to the temple often, you knew this man by sight. He was there every day. Now he is walking and jumping and praising God. A crowd begins to gather wondering how this can be.

When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus…. 16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

The fake “faith healers” of today do things differently from Peter and John. The faith healers of today gather a crowd and make a big production out of the whole thing. They dance and prance on stage while showing off their supposed ability to heal. They may use the name of Jesus but it is not hard to tell that it is really all about them. Then they ask for money, lots of money.

Peter and John quietly heal a man who asked them for money and ask for nothing in return. The crowd gathers because the man who was healed was jumping on legs that were too weak to even take a step before. Peter and John deflect all the attention from themselves to Christ. They want none of the credit. They have no power to heal. They are not important. Only Christ has the power to heal completely as this man was healed.

Think about what Peter is saying to the crowd. He tells them that Jesus Christ healed this man. Nearly everyone in Jerusalem would have known about Jesus, who was called the Christ. It had only been about two months since Passover. What a Passover it had been. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to the praise of the crowds on Palm Sunday. He overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple and drove out those selling animals for sacrifice. Jesus caused quite a scene in Jerusalem. Then he was arrested and crucified for all to see. Pilate even put a sign on the cross so everyone would know what happened to Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews (INRI). Jesus was dead and buried.

How then, could a dead man heal a crippled man? He couldn’t. Peter says, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus….God raised him from the dead.” Jesus can heal this man completely because Jesus lives. The message of the apostles hinges on the resurrection of Jesus. If Christ was still in the tomb, they have no good news to share. If Christ is still dead, they would have no confidence to preach. But Christ is risen. He shows that he is alive and has power by healing a man’s body. However, physical healing is not the end of it. Christ wants to wipe away the sins of the people.

To Wipe Out Sin

Peter’s next words may seem strange and harsh for trying to bring these people to believe that Jesus is alive and is their only Savior from sin. But this is what Peter says:

The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life.

Peter does not give them any warm fuzzies here. He takes off the kid gloves and gives them the truth. If if was just that Peter accused them of being involved in getting Jesus killed, some of them would not feel guilty about it at all. Jesus was a trouble maker. He went against the Pharisees and Sadducees and against the Romans. He deserved what he got.

However, Peter makes it clear that they were responsible for the death of more than a human trouble maker. Jesus is the Christ sent by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You handed over the promised descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to a pagan, oppressive government. Jesus is the Holy and Righteous One, without sin and true God. You chose a murderer over the holy God. Jesus is the Creator of all things. You killed the one who authored all life. The sinful nature wants Jesus to be dead.

Our sinful nature continues to try to kill Jesus. When people ask why we waste our time at church, do we ever hand Jesus over to unbelievers by saying, “My parents make me go” or “I don’t know” or “I only go to take the kids”? Do we act as though Jesus is still dead as we secretly continue in our favorite sins? Do we choose to release Barabbas into our lives by choosing to fill our minds with music, movies, books and entertainment that glorify murder, adultery, greed and immorality of all kinds?

When our conscience accuses us, listen to Peter: Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.

The risen Christ has power to wipe out all sin. Christ suffered just as the prophets predicted and his resurrection proves that he has paid for every sin. Peter uses the image of Jesus wiping away our sins. Picture each and every one of your sins written on a chalk board. It would have to be a very large chalkboard. Jesus’ sacrificial death and victorious resurrection erases that board completely. There is not even a trace of chalk left on the board. For those in school now who don’t have chalk boards or even white boards, picture all your sins recorded on the smart board or computer. The list goes on and on. But Jesus’ death and resurrection have deleted every sin. Of course, with a computer, there is often a way to recover a deleted file. But Jesus has deleted it, thrown it in the trash, emptied the trash, removed every backup from the cloud and then written something else over than place in the computer’s memory. There is no way to recover a sin that Jesus has wiped away. Only the risen Jesus has power to completely wipe away our sins.

Because Christ has wiped away our sins, he will also wipe away the tears from our eyes in eternal life (Revelation 7:17, 21:4). Because Christ has wiped away our sins, he will never wipe out our name from the book of life (Rev 3:5). The joy of Easter does not and should not end with Easter Sunday. The risen Christ has power forever. He has used his power to wipe away our sins so that we may have joy with him forever.

Amen.