5.24.13 "Cuts to the heart hurt!"

Acts 2: 36-41 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus, whom you crucified.

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?”  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.  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.” 

And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”  So those who received his word were baptized and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

I’ve been trying to visualize this scene playing out in my head.  I picture Peter and the other 11 apostles standing in the temple.  As Peter starts to speak I can’t help but assume that the twelve felt some sort of righteous indignation towards the crowd.  They knew who’d just been unjustly executed, and as Peter starts to speak it’s almost as if he is rubbing their actions (and their ignorance) in their faces.

He lists the reasons why everyone should have known exactly who Jesus was, and he speaks to where Jesus sits now…at the right hand of God.  He reminds the people “this is who you crucified.”  Maybe it’s just me, but I read a little condemnation into Peter’s tone.

But I love how Luke describes the reaction of the crowd in v. 37.  He says, “they were cut to the heart…”  Outside of the book of Psalms I struggle to remember such an eloquent metaphor of emotion anywhere else in scripture.  It’s perfect…and so disarming for me.  I instantly lose my desire to say “I told you so!”

And although this is only Luke’s recollection of the moment, I get the feeling that Peter changes his tone as well.  Rather than continuing to condemn, he dives right into the solution.  “Repent and be baptized…”  I can almost picture Peter smiling as he continues, “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.”

I remember filling out a “personality questionnaire” a while ago.  One of the questions was “What makes you emotional?”  That was a tough question for me to answer.  But I started to think about movie scenes that got me choked up.  I thought of several scenes that really hit me hard.  They all had to do with long lost family members or friends restoring a broken relationship.  Seeing two people forgive each other and heal the brokenness always gets me.  I guess I see that happening here…and it feels warm.

40 days earlier the apostles were worshipping Jesus as their Messiah, the son of God.  And the people in the crowd were executing him as a criminal worthy of the death penalty.

But here they are a few weeks later, cut to the heart…desperate for forgiveness.  And so I love how the tone of the moment changes.  Once fundamentally opposed, now they refer to each other as “brothers”…joined in the mission.

I know that my “assigned passage” ended at v. 41 but if we read just a little further it says, “all who believed were together and had all things in common…they attended the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.” (v. 44-47)

I love it.