Baptism of the Lord (A) January 13, 2008
Christ is Lord of All (Acts 10:34-43)
Justin M. is a college-educated businessman, described in Thom Rainer’s book The Unchurched Next Door (Zondervan, 2003, 13). Justin is climbing the ladder of success. He is also a self-professed atheist. He never attends church, never prays, because “God is nobody to me.” Twenty-something and never married, his belief about Jesus Christ is straightforward: “It’s all a fabrication. I don’t usually give it much thought.”
Ironically, his last roommate was a pastor. Justin liked the pastor because “he was caring and never bothered me with any talk about religion or god.” Justin does not believe in heaven or hell. He says, “Life is what we make it, and then we die.”
The apostle Peter had a kind of live-and-let-alone attitude also until God opened his eyes to see the truth of a Savior for the entire world. The key verse of our text is inserted as a parenthesis: “He is Lord of all” (v. 36c). It came as a profound discovery to Peter, and with it three earth-shaking revelations.
I. Here is the end of our racial enmity.
“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality” (v. 34). This is the confession of Peter, a traditional Jew, standing before a gathering of Gentiles. In his wildest imagination three days earlier he would never have imagined this moment. Most of us are bothered less by Jew/Gentile animosity than by white/black tensions. It is the same problem, and the cure for either is the lordship of Christ. We are brothers.
In Christ there is no East or West, In him no South or North,
But one great fellowship of love Throughout the whole wide earth.
Join hands then, brothers of the faith, What-e’er your race may be;
Who serves my Father as a son Is surely kin to me. (John Oxenham)
II. Here also is the motive for our missionary mandate.
“In every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him” (v. 35, NASB, ‘77). What seems so obvious to us today was a profound admission for Peter. He was just coming to the realization that his kinship to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was more than great privilege. To be one of “the sons of Israel” (v. 36) was also a great responsibility. Peter broke a barrier that he knew could get him in trouble with the fellowship of Jewish believers back at Jerusalem.
We look back and wonder why they did not learn earlier. Didn’t Jesus stop at Jacob’s well and declare himself as the Messiah to the despised Samaritans? Did he not go to Syrian Phoenicia and minister to one trusting Gentile mother there? And didn’t Peter himself preach on the Day of Pentecost the fulfillment of Joel’s prophesy? God would pour out his Spirit on all flesh! (Acts 2:17). It is a mystery that the twelve did not embrace this profound truth earlier. It’s almost as great a mystery that so many of us still balk at crossing boundaries to take the good news.
III. Here too is the energy for our great evangelistic enterprise.
“And He ordered us to preach to the people…that this is the One who has been appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead” (v. 42-43). It is through the name of Jesus as all the prophets bear witness that “everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
Mark Driscoll has always been a high achiever. His high school student body in Seattle elected him president of the class. He was also captain of the baseball team. About that time, an attractive blond named Grace gave him a copy of the New Testament. He didn’t start reading it, however, until he went away to college at Washington State. When he did read it, however, it changed him profoundly. Jesus became Savior and Lord of his life. He also heard from God that he should marry that attractive blond.
After college he went back to Seattle. In 1996, at age 25, he founded Mars Hill Church. In eleven years, it has grown to 6,000 members. Mark considers that “just a mile marker on the road to 20,000 and beyond.” This often-controversial young pastor is still an adrenaline junky, not only leading his church but 170 other churches around the world in his Acts 29 Network. (Collin Hansen, “Pastor Provocateur” Christianity Today, Sept. 2007, 44-49).
What a difference Christ makes when we own him as Lord! (Austin B. Tucker)