Up until now, Paul had been recounting the history of his people. Addressing the synagogue that day, Paul placed them in the story that God had been sharing.
But here in verse 26, Paul shifts to let them know that the story is still being written, and that they are witnessing history.
“Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.
“We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:
God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. As God has said,
“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’
So it is also stated elsewhere:
“‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’
“Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.
“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:
“‘Look, you scoffers,
wonder and perish,
for I am going to do something in your days
that you would never believe,
even if someone told you.’” Acts 13:26-41
Paul’s sermon gives us insight into how he viewed the ministry of Jesus and the advancement of his Kingdom.
1.) The Message is timely. Paul starts by saying that the message he has been sharing was meant for here and now. It was sent to them. It was relevant, timely, and appropriate. It was a message that they needed to hear. Our whole model of church is built counter to this belief. We structure our gathers once a week, saying that it’s something that can wait. We offer half-hearted invitations for people to come, “if they aren’t busy.” We create games to let them have fun, because deep down we believe that the Gospel isn’t really that good, and people won’t believe it if we can’t package it with a water balloon toss. But for Paul, the belief and the visible presence of the resurrection was enough to motivate him to share and demonstrate the need for a changed life.
2.) Identity creates bonds. Paul addresses the crowd by saying, “Friends.” There is a bondage between them that unites them. Often, when wanting to live missionally or share our faith, we forget that we have bonds with people. Christianity has, for some reason, taught us that the unChristian would should be feared and avoided. But I think we fundamentally miss the message of Jesus in that. We have a world in need of loving embrace and tender compassion. People, regardless of their faith affiliation, still want to be good parents, successful business persons, and loving spouses. We have bonds and similarities that we can use to create lasting friendships, and in that, we can model how our faith guides us.
3.) The Gospel is for everyone and it starts now. There is a common blogging technique that opens up a limited enrollment opportunity a few times a year. I receive weekly emails to, “Sign up now or this opportunity goes away for an entire year.” It’s meant to drive me to their site and enroll in their course. It’s great business, but it’s not a great Gospel. What Paul makes abundantly clear in this sermon is that the Gospel is here and now present for everyone. Jew and Gentile, Male and Female, Rich and Poor, Slave and Free, all are welcome to experience the work that Jesus has done.
It is important for us, in the ventures of missional living, to embrace what we see Paul modeling for us. The Good News, trust me on this, really is that Good. It should empower us to create bonds and identify with those that are different from us. And it is a message that starts now and embraces all of humanity.