With this kind of text, there is almost too much to preach in one sermon. I wonder whether Peter got it all done in 10 verses? For Easter, obviously vv. 39-40 are central. The one who was put to death has been raised from the dead. Unless there is a resurrection from the dead, our faith is futile, as Paul wrote: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and cyou are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). But indeed Jesus has risen from the dead!
What difference does the Resurrection mean for me?
This forms the heart of the Christian Gospel and affects every area of theology and life. For Peter, it meant a complete upheaval of what he thought he knew about God. The separation of Jews from Gentiles was centuries old, since Jews were the “special” people of God. God had warned them, however, not to think that this specialness was related to the Hebrews themselves ([God said:] “Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people…” Deut. 9:6); rather it was God’s faithfulness to the covenant promise that he made.
Peter raised within that false understanding had to unlearn his own prejudice. In Acts 10 he had the revelation that turned him around. Now the message of Jesus Christ (Gospel) especially the resurrection from the dead becomes good news (Gospel) for Gentiles. No longer was prejudice the guiding principle, nor pride, nor one-up-man-ship.
Has the resurrection of Jesus made any difference in my life? Do I hope only that this life will get better? Or do I look beyond the grave, beyond immediate gratification?
As a result, does the Gospel (including the resurrection) make any difference in my treatment of people? Am I looking for them to “become like me” as conditional of acceptance? Do I think in my mind, “Why do those people have to live here?” “What do they expect of me?” Maybe the right questions are: “How can I be a (second-hand) witness of Jesus Christ to the people around me?” “What does God expect of me here?” “How can I live out the Great Commission [Matt. 28:18-20] in the midst of people where I live?”