Acts 2:1-41

Read the passage here: Acts 2:1-41

As a preacher, my ears naturally perk up at this first sermon of Peter’s. So bear with me a moment as I consider this example of proclaiming the gospel. Here he is a fisherman from Capernaum boldly addressing the crowds gathered. Peter interprets the Scripture; gives an analysis of their current context; and ends his sermon with the stunning line,

“…know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Luke says, “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart.” The Greek text literally reads “stabbed in the heart.” Now that’s preaching that connects! Garrison Keillor once observed,

“I’ve heard a lot of sermons in the past ten years or so that make me want to get up and walk out. They’re secular, psychological, self-help sermons. Friendly, but of no use. They didn’t make you want to straighten up. They didn’t give you anything hard. At some point and in some way, a sermon has to direct people toward the death of Christ and to the campaign God has waged over the centuries to get our attention.” (quoted in Called to Be Church by Anthony B. Robinson and Robert W. Wall

Wow!
Have you ever experienced a sermon that reoriented your point of view so much that it “cut to the heart?”

We know Peter from the gospel of Luke (and the other gospels). He is not preaching from a lofty tower of self-righteousness. This is a man who knows the pain and guilt of his own betrayal of Jesus. He has been one of the disciples who over and over again misunderstands Jesus’ ministry and message. He is an imperfect messenger. And yet through the gift of the Holy Spirit to the whole community he is able to be the spokesperson–notice he does not do this alone, Luke writes, “But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them…”

What do you see as the role of a faith community in the practice of preaching? What part does the Holy Spirit play?

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