Boldness

 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (Acts 2:29-36)
In the four gospels, Peter is not known for his boldness. Rashness, for sure, but not boldness. His lowest point as a believer comes only a few weeks before the Day of Pentecost. Jesus is arrested and Peter saves his own skin by denying three times that he even knows him. Something clearly changes in Peter when he’s filled with the Holy Spirit. His message to the people of Jerusalem is so courageous. It’s important that we understand how bold Peter is being here. He’s preaching outside in Jerusalem, presumably in the temple courts (the only place big enough to hold the number of people that respond), during a week when there would be pilgrims filling the courtyards. Saying that Jesus was and is the God of Israel by referring to him as “my Lord” would be heretical to his audience of Jewish listeners. What he says in the verses that we have read today was enough to get Peter stoned to death.

But then he goes even further. He reminds them that this is Jesus “whom you crucified”. We don’t know how many of the individuals in the crowd were among those who shouted, “Crucify him!”, so it seems as though Peter is speaking here about the guilt of the nation of Israel. Telling people that they and the rest of their nation are sinners is an interesting preaching strategy, but miraculously it is hugely successful here. Some Christians use this passage to insist that we must preach this bluntly all the time, but I think that’s missing the point. Peter isn’t creating a formula for preaching here – he is just sharing the Gospel as he feels led to do so. Peter is only able to preach like this because he has been transformed by the Spirit of God and has confidence in the Spirit’s power. Peter’s boldness comes from the Holy Spirit, and from his faith in the power of Jesus to save sinners.

We need to follow Peter in his boldness, and we can only do so by recognising that what we have gained in Jesus is far greater than anything that we can lose on Earth, including our lives. On the night that Jesus was arrested, Peter tried to save his own life and failed to witness for him. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gives Peter such an awareness of what he has in Jesus that he preaches boldly. Nor is this a one-off, because we see it again when the Holy Spirit continues filling Peter in Acts 4:8-13 and 18-20. What more could we see in our lives if we allowed the Holy Spirit to give us the same boldness as Peter, considering any loss we suffer for our words to be nothing compared to what we have in Jesus? Well, we can find out, because the promise of the Holy Spirit is available to us today! Ask the Lord to equip you to proclaim the Gospel with boldness to those around you too.
  1. Many people are fearful about sharing the Gospel. Note down some of the things that you are afraid might happen if you share the Gospel with your friends. How do each of these things measure up to Jesus? Ask God to take each of those specific fears away from you.
  2. What would it look like for you to share the Gospel boldly? What might God be calling you say to people today?
  3. Ask God to make you bolder by filling you again with the Holy Spirit
Father God, I thank you that you don’t expect me to go out all alone on your mission. You fill with your Holy Spirit to give me courage as I go out in partnership with him. Lord, please increase my awareness that you have sent me. I ask that you help me be bold and courageous in sharing my faith with others. Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were brought to you by Freddie Ingle, who leads our Kingston Venue.
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