St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Take A Break

Sermon on Acts 3:19-26

Text: Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you — even Jesus. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’
24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.

Is it beginning to creep up on you? Are you starting to feel the stress of the holiday season? There is so much to do and so little time to do it. There are presents to buy and wrap. There are holiday meals to plan. There are the various Christmas parties to attend. What do you do to help alleviate the stress? Some people might make themselves a cup of tea. Other might put on some relaxing music. Still others might stop everything and go for a walk. All of these things have something in common. You are taking a break from what you were doing and focusing your attention elsewhere. This morning, I would encourage you to do just that, to take a break. TAKE A BREAK and 1. Enjoy Times Of Refreshing and 2. Look Forward To The Day Of Restoration.

Prior to our text, Peter and John were entering the temple. There they saw a man who was lame from birth, begging from the people who were entering the temple. When Peter and John walked past, he asked them for some money. Peter replied, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6) Taking the man by his hand, Peter helped him up. He was completely healed and began to walk and jump and praise God. This drew a crowd, who wanted to know how this had happened. Peter used this opportunity to tell those assembled about Jesus. He did not pull any punches as he spoke to the crowd. He said, “You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead.” (Acts 3:14&15) In conclusion, Peter spoke the words of our text.

Peter begins by telling the crowd, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” (Verse 19) This was in answer to a question that many of the crowd were likely thinking. They had been accused of killing God’s Messiah, the one that they had been waiting for for so many years. Now, they were wondering what they should do. Peter tells them to “repent.” They were to see themselves for the sinners that they were. This was a necessary step for the people to do. They were to repent for being participants in the killing of Jesus, as well as all of the other sins that they were guilty of. Then, they would begin to find that time of refreshing for their souls.

This is also something that will help us find refreshment for our souls. It is important for us to take stock of our lives and see how far short of the demand of perfection that God has for all people. Let’s take a few moments to think about ways that we have sinned in the last couple of days. Have we been impatient with someone who is taking too long to decide what they wanted or because they were moving too slowly? Has someone said or done something to you, whether intentional or not, that made you want to retaliate and do or say something that hurts them? When we are honest with ourselves, it doesn’t take too long to come up with a long list of sins that we have committed. The reason that this is necessary so that we might find that day of refreshing is we need to realize just how burdened we are by our sins. It’s only then that we can appreciate the refreshment that comes after.

The place for that refreshment is found in the one who coming we are getting ready to celebrate in a few weeks, Jesus Christ. That’s where Peter pointed his hearers on that day. He said, “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days.” (Verse 24) The “these days” that Peter is referring to is the coming of the Savior. All of the Old Testament had pointed to this time. They foretold of the birth in Bethlehem. They spoke of the suffering and death of the Messiah. The meaning of these events was spelled out for them clearly. For example, Isaiah wrote, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) He came to be punished so that the sins of the world might be paid for. Jesus’ resurrection was also foretold. Peter told the crowd that the Messiah that they were looking for for so many years had come and done exactly what was foretold. He came to pay for the sins of the world.

This is where we find our days of refreshing, as well. As we noted all of those sins earlier, it is easy for us to be weighed down by them. Indeed, they are a crushing weight. They would have eternally separated us from God. However, Jesus continues to make this invitation, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’ (Matthew 11:28) Those sins need crush us no longer, because he was crushed in our place. As a result, our sins have been wiped out. They have been erased completely. In these days of hurriedness and stress, take a break and enjoy the times of refreshment that come from knowing that the baby born in Bethlehem is your Savior.

In addition, we note that the meaning behind the word “repent” is to have a change of mind. Now, we see sin for the burden that it is and we want to avoid it at all costs. We, also, see the joy that is ours in serving our Savior. We look for ways to show our thankfulness and love by the way that we live our lives. As Christians, we find it refreshing when we get to serve our Lord, even if it is, at times, hard work. It is a joy, because we know what has been done for us. Take a break and enjoy those times of refreshing.

Peter, also, notes another time of refreshing in verse 21, “Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything.” There was an example of God’s restorative power standing right in front of the crowd. A man who had been born lame was able to walk and jump. That effect of sin in the world was gone from this man’s life. His legs had been fully restored.

Peter had in mind the ultimate time of refreshing in mind in the second sending of the Christ. The Christ, who came as a baby, who comes to the hearts of sinners and makes them saints, will come again on that day which the Lord has set as a time to restore everything. This is the Last Day, the day of restoration. The results of the fall into sin will be reversed, and as Paul wrote in Romans 8:21, “The creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” All of the effects of sin will be gone. There will be no more pain, illness, sadness, storms, droughts, or floods. Everything will be perfect. Peter looked forward to that day in his Second Epistle, “In keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13) What a comfort that is for us. As we go through this life, with all of its difficulties, it can weigh us down. How we long for that day when creation will be restored to the way it was when God created the world. When life seems overwhelming, take a break and think about that day of restoration.

Yes, the next couple of weeks will be demanding for most of us. There are deadlines to meet. There are many things that have to get done. However, dead friends, it’s good to take a break from all of that busyness. Go ahead and do those things that will destress you. Take that walk. Listen to that quiet music. Enjoy that cup of tea. Those things all have their place. However, take a few moments and think about what this season is all about. It’s all about the coming of your Savior. Take a break and find the refreshment in knowing that he came to rescue you from all of your sins, so that you might have peace with him. Take a break and think about ultimate restoration when he will come again in glory. This is the type of break that will fill your hearts with rest and peace. So, go ahead and take a break. Amen.