26Now listen, you descendants of Abraham! Pay attention, all you Gentiles who are here to worship God! Listen to this message about how to be saved, because it is for everyone.27The people of Jerusalem and their leaders didn’t realize who Jesus was. And they didn’t understand the words of the prophets that they read each Sabbath. So they condemned Jesus just as the prophets had said.
28-29They did exactly what the Scriptures said they would. Even though they couldn’t find any reason to put Jesus to death, they still asked Pilate to have him killed.
After Jesus had been put to death, he was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb.30But God raised him from death!31Then for many days Jesus appeared to his followers who had gone with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. Now they are telling our people about him.
32God made a promise to our ancestors. And we are here to tell you the good news33that he has kept this promise to us. It is just as the second Psalm says about Jesus,
“You are my son because today
I have become your Father.”
34God raised Jesus from death and will never let his body decay. It is just as God said,
“I will make to you
the same holy promise
that I made to David.”
35And in another psalm it says, “God will never let the body of his Holy One decay.”
36When David was alive, he obeyed God. Then after he died, he was buried in the family grave, and his body decayed.37But God raised Jesus from death, and his body did not decay.
38My friends, the message is that Jesus can forgive your sins! The Law of Moses could not set you free from all your sins.39But everyone who has faith in Jesus is set free.40Make sure that what the prophets have said doesn’t happen to you. They said,
41“Look, you people
who make fun of God!
I will do something today
that you won’t believe,
even if someone
tells you about it!”
42As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the meeting, the people begged them to say more about these same things on the next Sabbath.43After the service, many Jews and a lot of Gentiles who worshipped God went with them. Paul and Barnabas begged them all to remain faithful to God, who had been so kind to them.
44The next Sabbath almost everyone in town came to hear the message about the Lord.45When the Jewish people saw the crowds, they were very jealous. They insulted Paul and spoke against everything he said.
46But Paul and Barnabas bravely said:
We had to tell God’s message to you before we told it to anyone else. But you rejected the message! This proves that you don’t deserve eternal life. Now we are going to the Gentiles.47The Lord has given us this command,
“I have placed you here
as a light
for the Gentiles.
You are to take
the saving power of God
to people everywhere on earth.”
48This message made the Gentiles glad, and they praised what they had heard about the Lord. Everyone who had been chosen for eternal life then put their faith in the Lord.
49The message about the Lord spread all over that region.50But the Jewish leaders went to some of the important men in the town and to some respected women who were religious. They turned them against Paul and Barnabas and started making trouble for them. They even chased them out of that part of the country.
51Paul and Barnabas shook the dust from that place off their feet and went on to the city of Iconium.
52But the Lord’s followers in Antioch were very happy and were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Paul is passionate about the gospel he proclaims. He recognizes human failure, but that is background only. Against that backdrop he shows how the grace of God has been moving through people’s failures to accomplish his purposes. As Paul finished his sermon he restates the major events in the life of Jesus, and rehearses the ways that people responded to him. He finally concludes his sermon with a solemn and urgent warning to all who were listening to believe and not to reject the good news.
Paul beckons to people today as then to “listen to this message about how to be saved, because it is for everyone” (v 26). Paul’s sermon builds in intensity as he explains how God worked through the contours of Israel’s history until the full measure of his saving activity was revealed in Jesus. The apostle reaches the heart of his sermon with his forceful statement of the revolutionary truth made clear to him by God: “My friends, the message is that Jesus can forgive your sins! The law of Moses could not set you free from all your sins. But everyone who has faith in Jesus is set free” (vv 38-39). Everything that happened in Antioch was a result of people’s response to these verses. Many chose to respond in belief to Paul’s sermon, and Paul and Barnabas “begged them all to remain faithful to God” (v 43).
No one is excluded from Paul’s invitation. It is an open call to us personally to embrace Jesus now as our lord and saviour. Celebrate anew today the freedom from the power and penalty of sin that is ours in Jesus. Embrace through faith your freedom!
God our Saviour, You are not satisfied with human failure and have acted to deliver forgiveness for our sins through Jesus. We reject our faulty thinking and destructive behavior apart from you. And in faith we receive your freedom from the power and penalty of sin. In Jesus’ name, who is our cause to celebrate a transformed life, Amen.