14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them:
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
I live on a relatively quiet urban street in Portland. The neighborhood has changed since I moved in 15 years ago. As an aging generation of folks have moved out, a younger generation of people have moved in. In these days of pandemic isolation, I have enjoyed watching the families take their daily stroll down my street. I think I have seen a half-dozen fathers teaching little people how to ride a bike.
It strikes me from this reading that the first proclamation of Easter which we read in Acts was not really good news. In fact, it was a declaration of failure and rebellion. The people to whom Peter preached had killed Jesus but it did not work. Not only did this plot against Jesus fail, but his resurrection was proof that they had worked against God himself!
The people believe what Peter says and they are cut to the heart. “What shall we do?” they asked. Peter’s response is pure Gospel. Jesus’ resurrection is not only proof of their rebellion it is also the gracious word of God’s forgiveness for sin, even that sin. There is no sin for which Jesus has not died.
It is a normal human response to times of difficulty and stress to take stock of one’s life. There is much to grieve on every human part. As I walked a few days ago I followed (at appropriate distance) a young father and his son who was perhaps 4 or 5 years old. The little one had a stick in his hand and was putting it to good use poking at things on the ground and in the bushes along the street. All the while he kept up a constant stream of chatter to which his father paid attention and occasionally got a word in too. I thought that this man was likely working from home now or, worse, laid off from his job. But I also thought that this little boy needed what this father was giving him right now as much as anything that money could buy.
Know that Jesus has risen from the dead to give you daily forgiveness and to give you a fresh start every day in him. Remember your Baptism today. It is the same baptism those 3,000 had that first Pentecost. What seems like a disaster might be another sort of opportunity, an opportunity to love people who are far more important than anything else.