January 19, 2020
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:
41 “‘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.’”
42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him.
46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.Acts 13:38-49
When was the last time you and your family shared a meal together? I wonder how many people made it their New Year’s resolution to eat more meals together as a family. There have been numerous studies on all the benefits to sharing a meal together as a family, but honestly, do we really need a study to tell us that it is good to share time together as family? In our reading from Acts 13, after gathering together to share in the Word of God, the two missionaries, Paul and Barnabas, left the people of Pisidian Antioch with this message to digest, forgiveness of sins through Jesus alone has been shared with you.
Well into his first missionary journey, Paul and his fellow missionary Barnabas had made it to the city of Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath, they went to the synagogue so that they might share the good news of Jesus with God’s people, the Jews, who were expecting the Savior. After the Scriptures were read, they were asked if they had a message for the people. Paul was ready with a message and gave a sermon outlining the history of the Jews. He began with the stay in Egypt began by Abraham’s grandson, Joseph, and his eleven brothers with their father, Jacob. Then, Paul continued to retell of the deliverance from Egypt, the forty years in the desert, God overthrowing the nations in Canaan to make it Israel’s home and ending with the time of the kings of Israel, especially mentioning King David. Paul then linked Jesus back to David revealing he was the promised Savior who was born out of God’s people. Although, Jesus was the promised Savior, his own people rejected him sentencing him to death on the cross. Yet, God worked through their rejection fulfilling all the prophecies about Jesus. Then, after Jesus was raised from the dead, he appeared to many witnesses. Paul was also a witness to the resurrected Jesus, and God had called him to share the message of Jesus’ salvation to the Gentiles leading Paul to say the first verse from our reading from Acts 13, 38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.”
Paul’s sermon about the forgiveness of sins through Jesus was met with mixed results. Even though Paul came to the most likely place to find people who would be glad to hear that the promised Savior had come, there were still some of the Jews who rejected his message. They rejected because they were offended by what he said about the law of Moses. Paul made it clear that the law of Moses was not given so that Israel or anyone could keep the law in order to be righteous. Instead, the law pointed out the sinfulness of Israel and all mankind. Since the law was powerless to give mankind a path to righteousness, there had to be another way, or else all mankind would perish in hell. The sacrificial system that God gave Moses was a clear indicator that the law was not able to be kept. If God had intended to give his law to Moses so that people could keep it, then making sacrifices for not keeping God’s law would be unnecessary. So it was that God gave both his law and the sacrifices to Israel to point them away from themselves and to the promised Savior. Only through the Savior would there be forgiveness of sins and a way to be perfect, righteous and holy before God.
Paul warned all those who rejected his message that they would perish. Paul quoted the prophet Habakkuk as a warning for anyone who doubted Jesus’ salvation, 41 “‘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.’” The something mentioned by Habakkuk was Jesus. It pointed to his perfect life and innocent death, and encompassed his miraculous virgin birth, many miracles and healings, and his resurrection. Most of these events happened during the lifetime of almost everyone listening to Paul, yet they did not believe. Even with Paul telling them what he had seen, they rejected Jesus. Their rejection was the same as those who saw Jesus, rejected him and screamed for his crucifixion. The rejection of Jesus by his own people was prophesied in our reading from Isaiah 49, 7 This is what the Lord says—the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers.” The nation of Israel, the Jews, God’s own people rejected Jesus. Yet, even their unbelief was used by God to bring about the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God. Plus, God sent Paul to the Jews in the synagogues first when he came to a new town on his mission trips. The message was always that Jesus had kept the law of Moses perfectly for us and gave his holy life as a payment on the cross redeeming the world. The sins of the world were paid for on the cross, but for those who scoffed and rejected in unbelief, they would not receive the blessing of forgiveness or eternal life.
The warning Paul spoke at the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch remains true for you and I. Whether removed from Jesus by almost two decades or almost two thousand years, those who scoff at him will perish. As believers, our scoffing takes a different form than the more confrontational Jews, the ones who did not believe, at Paul’s time. You and I scoff when we become comfortable with excuses to avoid being in God’s Word. This can take the form of not attending worship and Bible Study, and not making an effort to plan ahead to watch the sermon online if you know you won’t be here on Sunday. However, it also takes the form of not sharing what Jesus did with others. Now, Paul and Barnabas were specially commissioned as missionaries and they were taking God’s word to the ends of the earth. You and I are also called to take the gospel out into the world, but for now let’s focus on the part of the earth closest to each of us.
One way that we scoff at the forgiveness of sins through Jesus is to not share that message with our children. Not sharing Jesus with our children takes many forms: not taking your kids to church, not praying with them before meals or bedtime, not reading the Bible with them, not asking them what they learned in Kingdom Kids, not telling them what you learned in Bible Study or from the sermon, and being comfortable letting them try out other churches or other religious as if they were options rather than taking the time to proactively tell them about the other religions of the world and how they go against the Bible, the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and our Savior Jesus. Now, to be clear, no parent has the power to control whether or not their child believes, but you can control whether or not they hear about Jesus and his forgiveness, and you can show them how much it means to you that Jesus is your Savior and how important it is to hear and study the Word of God. As one who believes in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, you cannot let you child think you believe it is ok for them to find their own way to have eternal life. You have lots of good priorities when it comes to taking care of your kids, but Jesus is the number one priority. When he is not it puts you and your children in eternal danger.
Thank God that he gave us Jesus to forgive us for all our sins. Jesus has forgiven all your sins, even the sins of turning away from him, being an example of unfaithfulness to your children and being careless in your sharing God’s Word with your children. In Matthew 19, 14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Jesus loves all children, he loves your children, he loved them enough to die for them, he gave them his word, and he sent the Holy Spirit to work faith in their hearts. The message of the forgiveness of sins through Jesus was meant to be shared so that you, your children and everyone would hear it. In our reading from Acts 13, Paul wrote, 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” God shined the light of Jesus on you and now you get to share his forgiveness with others.
You get to share the most important message of all time with someone when you share Jesus. When you share Jesus, you get to be like John the Baptist from our gospel reading in John 1, who, 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” And, when his two disciples heard what he said, they turned to follow Jesus. And, then one of those disciples had to do the same as John and share who Jesus was as we read, 41 “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).” For those who believe in Jesus, who are struck by God’s law to see their sin, imperfections, hardships, stress, anxiety, sickness, lack of understanding and death, and are then healed by the gospel. They have to share the good news of life, peace, wisdom, love, purpose and forgiveness through Jesus.
You are blessed to have so many ways to share the forgiveness of sins through Jesus. You and I are the result of what happened in Acts 13, 48 “When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.” And, 49 “The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.” And, eventually that message was shared with you. Today, by God’s grace, you and I get to worship God in freedom. We are gathered together in one of the safest places in the world. We have access to the Word of God through our phones and Bible written in our language. We have the Forward in Christ Magazine, Meditations, Luther’s Catechism, the People’s Bible series, etc. to help us read God’s Word. Give thanks and share the forgiveness of sins through Jesus with those around you, especially your kids. Bring them to worship, have devotions and prayers at the dinner table and before bed, talk about what happened in Kingdom Kids, Bible Study and worship, tell your children what it means for you that Jesus is your Savior when you face troubles, sickness, even death. Share with them how to praise and thank God when for the blessings in your life like a home, job, education, safety and security.
When was the last time you and your family shared God’s Word with one another? My friends, forgiveness of sins through Jesus alone has been shared with you, go share the message of eternal life through Jesus with someone too. Amen.