The Key to History
Renew me day by day, Lord, so that I may shine with Your glory and bring honor to Your name.
Read ACTS 13:13–41
13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem. 14 From Perga they went on to Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath they entered the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent word to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have a word of exhortation for the people, please speak.”
16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: “Fellow Israelites and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; 18 for about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness; 19 and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years.
“After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
23 “From this man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. 25 As John was completing his work, he said: ‘Who do you suppose I am? I am not the one you are looking for. But there is one coming after me whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’
26 “Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.
32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm:
“‘You are my son;
today I have become your father.’
34 God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. As God has said,
“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’
35 So it is also stated elsewhere:
“‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’
36 “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.
38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:
41 “‘Look, you scoffers,
wonder and perish,
for I am going to do something in your days
that you would never believe,
even if someone told you.’”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Being left in the lurch (as were Paul and Barnabas when John Mark departed) when others let you down is hard. Praise God that he never gives up on us.
The departure of John Mark would have unintended consequences for their future partnership, but just then it left Paul and Barnabas short-handed for the task ahead. They left the plain and headed into the high mountains of Galatia where we read Paul’s first recorded sermon. As he had heard Stephen do, he made a sweep of Israel’s history, beginning with the Exodus and ending with King David, God’s man.
Jesus, King David’s greater son, fulfills the promises made to David. John the Baptist in his baptism of repentance prepared the way. Yet his message was ignored and Christ, though innocent, was put to death. However, that verdict was nullified by the resurrection, verified by his appearances to his followers. A different response is now required. The resurrection is a game changer and Jesus is now confirmed as God’s Son. This is good news, for he offers forgiveness for our failures. We can stand before God with the slate wiped clean (justified). The way to God is not through trying to keep the Law and earn his favor, but by trusting in what he has done through his son, Jesus.
Paul’s preparation for mission was well-used. He has taken time to review history and Old Testament teaching, seeing them through a new lens. Christ is the key that opens up and makes sense of both events and promises. Paul’s longing is that his own people will see Jesus as the fulfillment of all their hopes and longings and embrace him for themselves. He took time and care to speak in words and a tone they would understand and he used pictures to which they could relate. Each generation needs to do the same if people are going to believe that the Good News is also for them.
Paul’s message was in response to a request for “a word of encouragement” (15, NLT). How can your church be more encouraging? What part can you play?
Gracious Lord, I thank You for the power of the Gospel. When proclaimed in all its fullness, new life bursts forth.