The text for this lesson is Acts 2:22–24, 36–41.
- Through Peter’s bold proclamation of the Gospel and God’s gift of Baptism, God brought many to faith, forgiving their sins for Jesus’ sake and giving them eternal life.
- Law: My sins crucified Jesus.
- Gospel: Through His Word and Baptism, God washes away my sins and gives me eternal life.
Following Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the eleven remaining disciples began the work of the Great Commission—to teach all that Jesus commanded and to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Among their many tasks was replacing Judas, who had betrayed Jesus and taken his own life. The lot fell on Matthias, recompleting the Twelve.
On Pentecost, fifty days after the Sabbath of Passover, the Twelve—most likely with other believers, 120 in all—are gathered together in one place (Acts 1:15; 2:17). Divided tongues of fire come to them and alight on each of those gathered. The Holy Spirit enables them to speak in various languages, but not just any languages. Our Lord empowers them to speak in the native tongues of those nations nearby whose citizens are in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, connecting directly into Jesus’ mandate to teach and baptize.
Peter, who had previously denied Jesus three times, now boldly takes advantage of this dramatic event to preach Law and Gospel to those present. Peter quotes the prophet Joel and King David in an effort to add force to his convicting message: they all are responsible for crucifying Jesus, even if they were not present at the very event.
Peter follows with a call to repentance and sweet Gospel, directing his hearers to Baptism and the gifts that it brings: faith, forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and the Holy Spirit.
In an act that harkened back to our Lord’s discipline at the tower of Babel, God multiplied the languages of the apostles. At the tower of Babel, God confused the languages of those present in order to stymie their pride and frustrate their efforts toward self-glorification. At Pentecost, God multiplied their tongues in order that they might more effectively fulfill the Great Commission and bring the saving power of Baptism to the lost.
Our Savior, Jesus Christ, Himself was baptized by John in the Jordan River. While Jesus had no need of the blessings that Baptism affords, our Redeemer underwent this Sacrament in order to empower it with His riches for our sake. In other words, by His Baptism, Jesus connected what He earned on the cross to our Baptism. As a result, we receive forgiveness of sins, deliverance from death and the power of the devil, and everlasting life.
There are myriad events in the Bible that point to forgiveness of sins conveyed in the washing of Holy Baptism. When God brought about a wrathful flood upon the earth as recorded in Genesis, Noah and his family were saved in the ark from the waters outside. After Moses and the Israelites escaped from slavery in Egypt, God opened the water to allow His people safe passage, yet closed it upon Pharaoh’s armies. In the same way, Christ’s death on the cross tore the temple curtain in two, symbolizing sinners’ renewed access to God through Christ.
Baptism also connects us to Jesus’ sinless life. When Jesus was weak and hungry in the desert, the devil tempted Him. Jesus resisted the tempter and remained the unblemished Lamb of sacrifice for us. Upon His death, Jesus also descended into hell to proclaim victory over the devil. Through Baptism, we share in Christ’s victory over temptation and are released from the tempter’s power.
Perhaps most powerfully, Baptism connects us to Christ’s everlasting life. Paul wonderfully illustrates how in Baptism we share in Jesus’ death and resurrection. As Jesus died and descended into the tomb, we die to sin as we descend into the waters of Baptism. As Jesus rose from death to life, we rise from the waters of Baptism in new life. As Christ lives eternally, so shall we.