April 21, 2019 – Easter: Is Anything More Powerful than Death?
Rev. Scott Strickman
Acts 2:22-41 (ESV)
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
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.
The world changing resurrection of Jesus brings life changing transformation to individuals who embrace something more powerful than death.
1. The need for transformation
- vv22-24 “Jesus… a man attested to you… with signs God did in your midst…. you crucified…”
- vv30-31 David “being therefore a prophet… foresaw and spoke about the resurrection”
- vv32 “this Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses”
- v33 “he has poured out this that you are seeing and hearing”
- v36 “let the house of Israel then know for certain…”
2. The promise of transformation
- v24 “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it”
- Song of Solomon 8:6 “love is strong as death”
3. The gift of transformation
- v37 “cut to the heart… ‘what shall we do?’”
- v38 “repent and be baptized… for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”
- v26 “therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh will also dwell in hope”
Questions for Reflection
- Is there anything more powerful than death? If so, what?
- How are you shaped by your own mortality? Do you avoid thinking about it? Is the way you think about death accurate and healthy? How does knowing you will die affect you?
- What do you find difficult in the claim that God raised Jesus from the dead? What do you personally need in order to believe this claim?
- What are some ways you would live differently if you believed the years you have on earth are all there are, as compared to believing that you will be raised to eternal life? What are practical implications of each approach to life?
- How should belief in the resurrection make your life on earth better? How can it inspire more honorable choices? What kind of outlook should you have, and how do you develop a more hopeful perspective?
- In what ways do the promises of the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit have the potential to bring deep transformation in those who believe this? How would thorough forgiveness change you? How does understanding that the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead inhabits those who trust Christ create a whole new outlook?
- How can you be more hopeful this year? How can you face your problems honestly, but also optimistically? What role does faith play in the details of your life?
Prayer of Confession
Our Father, today is a day to celebrate, but we must also acknowledge our present need of forgiveness and help. We confess our lack of understanding and faith. We have trouble conceiving of anything more powerful than death. We are weak in hope, and strong in a self driven need for significance. Forgive our unbelief. Forgive our rejection of you, in whatever form it comes. Transform us by your grace. Grant us life. You have promised it and we trust that you have spoken truthfully. Amen.