Peter said, “I really am learning that God doesn’t show partiality to one group of people over another. Rather, in every nation, whoever worships him and does what is right is acceptable to him. This is the message of peace he sent to the Israelites by proclaiming the good news through Jesus Christ: He is Lord of all! You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism John preached. You know about Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit and endowed with power. Jesus traveled around doing good and healing everyone oppressed by the devil because God was with him. We are witnesses of everything he did, both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 4but God raised him up on the third day and allowed him to be seen, not by everyone but by us. We are witnesses whom God chose beforehand, who ate and drank with him after God raised him from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
This is one of my favorite passages in the New Testament, so I was pleased when it was assigned as my text for this Lenten Blog Tour. To me, it is one of the best capsule summaries of the good news. Peter brings to these outsiders, these non-Jews, the full story of God’s actions to redeem the world through Jesus the Messiah.
We hear this story during Lent as we move toward its dramatic climax. We are reminded as we hear Peter’s words that it is not just a story for us or our tribe. It is not meant to be a story told to reassure a club of insiders who huddle together for mutual support.
It is the declaration that God is God of all. It is the announcement that Jesus came for all of us. It is the promise that all are invited into the life of God.
In the ministry of Jesus, there were times of when he withdrew. He pulled back from the villages to escape the crowds or went off into the darkness to pray alone. Each time, though, he returned to the throng and the crowd and the press of life. He returned to preach and teach and heal.
This season of Lent is in part about withdrawing. It is a time to reflect and take stock. It is a time for silence and ashes and darkness. Such things are necessary for us. But they are not final.
Like Peter we are called to be bearers of a message. We are called to proclaim to those who have not heard the upending and unexpected news that God does not play favorites. God does not care only about the beautiful and the well-connected and the wealthy. God is not the pet of some private club. God came for all. God bled for us all. God has room for all.
Thanks be to God.