“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptised, 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. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
I was shopping in Bury St Edmunds recently, and decided to pop into the local branch of Debenhams (known locally as ‘the cow pat’ – Google it and you’ll soon see why!) for lunch. As I walked through the homeware department towards the café, I saw a sizeable crowd gathering. Being a bit of a sheep, I followed, to see what was happening. People’s attention had been caught by a man selling knives. Not just any old knife, though, but the sharpest knife in the world! These knives, we were told, made light work out of bread, could slice through tomatoes without them disintegrating, could be used for carving meat, and could even slice through bone (which sounds rather dangerous to me!). As he finished his spiel, the crowd was positively buzzing. How can we get our hands on these wonderful knives, everyone was asking. What can I do to get my hands on such an incredible tool?
The picture we get in the verses from Acts above is of a buzzing scene in which people are desperate to find out more. Peter, the apostle, has recounted the gospel message, telling the gathered crowd about the death and resurrection of Christ. The Holy Spirit had come upon the apostles and equipped them to speak in many different languages. The crowd was ‘perplexed’, and Peter explained the situation through his exposition of the gospel. He concludes with the statement above, “therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
At this, the people were ‘cut to the heart’. They were suddenly aware of the extent of their sinfulness, and they were ashamed. “What shall we do?” they asked themselves.
Peter responded by telling them exactly what they should do. They should repent of their sins. They should ask for forgiveness and turn away from their wrongdoing, resolving never to sin again. They should be baptised in the name of Jesus as a sign of their rebirth, their new start as followers of Christ. If they do this, then they will receive not just forgiveness, but also the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Peter’s reply here is a simple statement and affirmation of what we must do if we are to receive the Holy Spirit. We need to repent of our sin, and be baptised as a symbolic gesture of our new birth. If you’ve already done this, then you have the Holy Spirit! Peter’s statement is also an important reminder of the power of the gospel message. It was through hearing the gospel, preached by Peter, that the crowd were convicted of their sin and brought to their knees. Let us never forget the power of the gospel, and the importance of God’s word as we seek to lead others to Christ.