By Pastor David M. Choi
As we’ve already seen with Peter (Acts 2:14-41) and Stephen (Acts 7:1-53), it is now Paul’s turn to preach and proclaim the gospel. They are in the synagogue. The reading from the Law has been given. “Before we dismiss, is there any other word of encouragement for the people? If so, say it.” Paul stands up – and he must stand up – because the Law no longer has the final say. He cannot let the people leave unless they also hear from the good news of the gospel.
Paul begins to preach, and he preaches a different kind of sermon. Like his fellow Jewish laborers of the gospel, the sermon is in the refresh telling of the story of Israel, that is, of God’s mighty deeds and wonders of unrelenting faithfulness to a wayward nation for thousands of generations. See what the Lord has done, and how he has now come to you in the person of Jesus Christ. He has come to be with his people and to truly set them free.
How should we be able to understand this as anything else but God’s love letter to his people and to the world? Though you have not loved me, I have always loved you. Though you have given up on me, I have never given up on you. I have seen the anguish of your suffering, and I have heard your cries for peace, for justice, and for mercy. Truly, you do not deserve it, and yet I freely give it, because I still keep you in my heart. And now, in Christ Jesus, my love is yours.
Through the mouthpiece of his servant, Paul, the Spirit of God addresses those listeners in this passage. This love letter is written to them, and they are utterly astounded. Clearly, for them, it’s not sufficient to hear it just once. They want to hear it again and again [and again and again and again and again and again and again] (vv.42-43). God’s love is that good. But now, we see that it also becomes a love letter written to us, because Jesus desires for us to share in God’s love as well (vv.46-47). And we, too, never get tired of hearing it.
With this love letter, the same Spirit is addressing us today, and is inviting us to be embraced by the truth of this awesome reality. For some, we have heard of God’s love, but have yet to truly give ourselves over to God’s embrace. What are you waiting for? Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart (Hebrews 3:15). For others of us, while living in stress-filled times, we ended up closing ourselves off to God, falling out of touch with him. Inside, we miss him so desparately, but we’re not sure if his love letter has expired, if his patience for us has run out. But Jesus is still here. He is standing at and knocking upon the door of your heart. Why the delay? Hurry. Let him in. It is not proper to keep a King waiting.
Lord Christ, our dear Savior, our precious brother and friend, inscribed in your flesh is the Father’s love for the world. Inscribed in your wounds is our eternal salvation. Inscribed in your heart is true freedom from sin. Inscribed in your body is at last community and union with God. You rule us and this world by the power of your resurrection, and you send your Spirit to go wherever we go. In your Spirit, your love embraces us, and through your Spirit your love sustains us. There’s nothing to ask of you, except to express to you our gratitude as we go about worshipping you this day. Amen.