Peter’s words, shook his listeners deeply. Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, was Israel’s long awaited Messiah – and they had crucified him? What have we done? What is going to happen to us now?
That was Peter’s opening. Once he explained who Jesus was, he began to talk about the good news God had promised centuries earlier through the prophet Joel; “Everyone shall be saved who calls on the name of the Lord”. Even us? Even the ones who were part of the problem? “Yes,” Peter seemed to reply,”Even you.”
Peter’s words ring out just as clearly to us today. Yes, even you! Everyone who turns to Jesus will receive mercy. That is how gracious and generous he is. No one is excluded. “The promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off.”
This is truly great news. We all need mercy. Even if it is hidden deep in our consciences, we all sense that we have sinned. We all have a sense that we stand guilty before God and are unable to remove that guilt on our own. And so we all wonder, in one way or another, What am I to do?
Peter answered this question quickly and confidently: repent! It is that easy. Just turn to Jesus, and tell him you are sorry for what you have done. Tell him you need his forgiveness. He is a loving and merciful, and he will forgive you!
When the people accepted Peter’s words, something else happened to them. They were not just pardoned for their sins; they were also filled with the Holy Spirit. Through baptism, they received God’s power to help them live in a new way. The very same thing happens every time we confess our sins – we receive a fresh outpouring of the Spirit.
No one is outside the bounds of Jesus’ mercy. Even now, two thousand years after his resurrection, he is ready to pardon you and fill you with his grace.
So the next time you wonder, What am I to do? remember that the promise of mercy is for you. Confess your sins and be set free. Do not ever underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to bring you new life!
-word among us