Acts 2:14a, 22-32 (NRSV)
Verse 14But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Verse 22"You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know Verse 23this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. Verse 24But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. Verse 25For David says concerning him, 'I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; Verse 26therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope. Verse 27For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. Verse 28You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.' Verse 29"Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Verse 30Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Verse 31Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, 'He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption.' Verse 32This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.
The wind rushes in. The tongues of fire burn brightly. The people can suddenly understand one another. The Holy Spirit fills the room and Peter can’t help but preach! I’ll be honest. I usually read this passage and think, “Land the plane, Peter. The sermon could have been just a few verses and a shout-out to Joel that generations of confirmation students could have memorized.”
Still, I scan these verses and see my own messy sermon notes in his, a stream of things too big to put into words for one moment. And yet, we try. Because, who knows? There may be a nugget of grace spoken in passing that sets someone free.
I am grateful for the pearl in verse 24: “It was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” I have needed that phrase more than once when it seemed like death would have the final word. It paints an image of death grasping at Jesus, then stunned when the usual tricks do not succeed in keeping him contained for all of eternity. It gives me hope and courage. And so does the Spirit.
God of resurrection hope, stir up your power in us. Give us a brave word in the face of death, so that our trust in your abundant life prevails and expands to bless all people, through Jesus who is the first and last word. Amen.