Walker, MN

EASTER 3 “This Jesus Whom You Crucified”
April 23, 2023 Acts 2:14a, 36-41
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ;

YOU crucified your Savior! That’s what Peter says to the crowd, who were wondering what all the fire & wind & commotion of Pentecost Day are about. He says, what you see & hear today is another fulfillment of Jesus-of-Nazareth, who is the promised Messiah God sent for us = and you killed Him! *Boy, are you & I glad we weren’t in that crowd that day?
But wait! These words are not only for that crowd, or that day == these words are being spoken again today, to this crowd gathered in Immanuel Luth.church. What Peter says is true for us ALL: Let all this house know for certain … “that God has made HIM both Lord and Christ, this Jesus, whom YOU crucified.”
The whole point of saying it like that, of hearing the Law of God like that, is to make the truth of our sin hit home in us. But we don’t want to believe that we caused Jesus’ death; I mean, we love Jesus! We would never want to hurt him, let alone kill him. That can’t be US.

So when we read this portion of Acts 2, we don’t think about ourselves, we think about those terrible people back then; the Jewish leaders who arranged to have the cruel Romans crucify him; and the awful crowd who cried out, “His blood be on us, and on our children!”
We read these words, but tell ourselves we would never have joined-in to participate in something so horrible. And maybe not! … not directly.
After studying the Scripture, our father in the faith, Dr. Martin Luther, was one of the few theologians of his time who understood that the Jews were not to blame for Jesus’ death. Even today, there are groups who are ‘anti-semitic’ in that way; they point the finger of blame at the Jewish people for killing Jesus of Nazareth.
But what does that mean? Do they think that, if it wasn’t for the Jews, Jesus would’ve lived a very long & prosperous life? But that is not what Jesus explained to those Emmaus disciples using Moses & all the prophets. Jesus came into the world to suffer & die!
And besides that, the Greek word ‘you’ that Peter uses is the inclusive ‘you’ = you-all.
Dr. Luther put the blame squarely where it belonged: on himself, and on you, and on me. Peter talks to ALL of us, including himself.
*Who killed Jesus, the Christ? I did; You did; We ALL did. It’s true; admit it & confess it. It was sinners; and the sin which caused His death was not just ~ /the sin of Judas-the betrayer, /& the corrupt High Priest, /& the jealous pharisees, /& Pilate condemning an innocent man, /& the soldiers following orders, /& the crowd of Jews in a frenzy shouting ‘crucify him’.
Every sinner has had a hand in the sin which killed the Lord of Life. Jesus died under the penalty of sin; and IF you & your sin is NOT included in that, then your sin is NOT forgiven by His cross, because there is no other source of forgiveness in God’s court-lof-law.
The Law is what brings us to repentance: our sin killed Jesus. That’s part of what Jesus was explaining to the Emmaus disciples. What Peter said on Pentecost Day is spoken rightly to US this morning: ‘God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom YOU crucified.’ OUR sin killed Jesus = … *now what do we do?

The news of the Law is heavy; and that’s the paradox of the Gospel message of Jesus & His cross. +There is bad news before there is good news. +The truth is tragic before there is ‘glad tidings of great joy, which shall be for all the people.’ +There is condemnation & death, before there is reassurance & new life. And the amount that we might tone down the bad news, is the same amount that we will mute the good news. Any time we down-play the wickedness of sin, we take away from the glory & honor of Christ as Savior. If we are tempted to shift the blame to someone else for Jesus’ suffering & death, then we are also shifting away from our self the relief of forgiveness & life.
A person who is not very thirsty, will not be very thankful for a drink; but a person who realizes how dangerously dehydrated they are, will be overjoyed for a sip of God’s cool water. The Pharisees rejected Jesus’ position as Savior-from-sin; they said ‘WE don’t need a savior, we have Abraham as our father’. And Jesus told them, ‘well, that’s why the tax collectors & prostitutes are entering the kingdom of heaven ahead of you.’ A person who does not see or admit their sin, has no need for a Savior; and without God’s One Savior, they will not see heavenly life.
In a similar way, when Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do’, was He only talking about those who cried out ‘crucify him’ or who drove the nails into His hands? I think He was saying ‘Father, forgive ALL my murderers their sin’ = including us.
The holy blood of the Son of God which covers them back then is the exact same blood that must cover all sinners now, or else we are not forgiven. If we are not the ones who crucified Jesus with our sins, then the good news of forgiveness that Peter proclaims to the guilty is not for us. There are just two ways to stand before God on the Last Day; with the Savior, whom WE helped crucify = or without the Savior, on our own. And the truth is, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, & the Life; and no one goes to the Father except thru Him.

One of the church reformers with Martin Luther was Philip Melanchthon; he once wrote Luther a letter where he itemized a whole bunch of small sins & whether he should feel bad about them or not = things like: /unkind words he’d spoken, /laziness with his work,
/a bad attitude toward his students, etc. Luther wrote back, mocking his attitude & saying:
‘gee Philip, maybe you ought to go out & commit a real sin, like rob a bank or kill someone! Then you can (and I quote) “join us in the company of real and hardened sinners, who have had to flee for refuge entirely under the cross of Jesus Christ!”
I’m sure Melanchthon understood Luther’s point == it’s not that little sins aren’t bad; but if we don’t see ourself as a truly wicked & terrible sinner, who has no hope apart from Christ, we will not find the real relief & joy & peace which our Savior Jesus won on the cross and thru the tomb.
We are not going to go out & rob a bank this afternoon; we don’t need to. We have already committed the most serious crime of all: You murdered the Lord of Life; & I killed Jesus by hanging Him on a tree. *Is there anything worse than that? Our sin-fingerprints are all over the scene of that crime. BUT, when the Almighty’s crime-report comes back, it quotes 1John 2, which says: Jesus “is the propitiation {or payment} for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

If we’re not sure we’ve contributed that much to the crucifixion, in the Small Catechism, Luther helps us. He says, when confessing our sins, we should consider our place in life according to God’s Ten Commandments: *are you a father, mother, /son, daughter, /husband, wife, or worker? *Have you been disobedient, /unfaithful, /or lazy? *Have you been
hot-tempered, /rude, /or quarrelsome? *Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? *Have you stolen, /been negligent, /wasted anything, /or done any harm?
Large or small, every sin convicts you & pays the same wage =death. And, in God’s accounting, every sin either goes to the cross, or else is unforgiven. Each day, in all kinds of ways, you show yourself to be a sinner; & no sinner can enter heaven after killing the Son of God. BUT, for each & every one of His killers, Jesus willingly died, & with death He said: ‘Father, forgive them.’ Our fingerprints are on the cross; and altho the Law convicts us, Jesus says: ‘I forgive you.’ And with His resurrection, Peter says we “Know for certain that God has made HIM both Lord and Christ,…”
The One we killed refuses to press the charges of the Law against the repentant. Instead, what the Lord gives to His confessed killers is … /mercy, / forgiveness of all sins,
/and a place in His kingdom forever. That’s the kind of Lord He is, and that is His Gospel message to all. God extends mercy to His fallen creation; to all who admit their sin. Jesus has restored us, and in that – we rejoice. As we see the cost of our sin, we are strengthened to turn away from it; we now live in trust & obedience, until we enter our heavenly home.

This message of Peter is the same one we proclaim as Jesus’ church today; and that’s not always easy. We need to be patient with people who don’t want to admit their sin. God’s Law stings = we know! But without it, they won’t appreciate with us the amazing grace & glory of Christ Jesus to save us. We will continue to open God’s Word and let the Law & Gospel speak.
Jesus had to explain it for hours to those Emmaus disciples, and open their minds to it. From the Fall into sin, God has been working out the perfect plan of salvation. Eternal death was coming for us; but God-the-Son put himself in the way, knowing we would reject & kill Him. BUT that substitutionary death, by that spotless Lamb & holy blood, was the very thing God promised would set us free.
It was the perfect set-up; Satan himself was hoodwinked. The OT says, ‘cursed is the one who is hung on the tree;’ so Satan thought Jesus was cursed & defeated. But by being a curse for ALL sin, Jesus took away OUR curse, so that we would be blessed. Satan thought he was gaining the victory thru death; but, thru the cross, sin’s price was being paid, and we are redeemed.
When Peter preached to our partners-in-crime back then in Acts 2, when they heard this bad news, and saw their fingerprints all over the cross, they did not make excuses.
They were cut to the heart; realizing their guilt they said: “What shall we do?”
And Peter answers with God’s own gracious relief & comfort: “Repent and be baptized everyone 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 {even far off in the future}, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.

God has called to YOU thru His Gospel, and thru your baptism. God made you His own child. Tho we have the blood of Jesus on our hands, by that same holy blood God has promised that the penalty of death & hell will now ‘pass over’ us. Jesus’ blood has marked you as one of God’s own. His baptism has washed all our sin away, and given life in its place; …
a life of faith now, and eternal life to come.
This confession of faith is one of our hymns: “Chief of sinners, though I be; Jesus shed his blood for me.” You & me were guilty; but thru the cross & by God’s grace, we are innocent. This is because God has made HIM both Lord and Christ, this Jesus – whom you crucified.

In view of both the Law and the Gospel, *what shall WE do? We’ve done what Peter says: repent & be baptized. Now what? Now we will live the new life God has given to us in Christ. And His new life in us will save us from this crooked generation.
Paul writes a little summary for us to follow in Titus chpt.2:
‘For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness, and to purify for himself a people for his own possession, who are zealous for good works.’

Yes, this is how we walk our Emmaus road & live with our Risen Savior Jesus, whom God has made our Lord & Christ.