From yesterday’s second reading…
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
In the name of + Jesus.
When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the apostles, and through their preaching of Christ, to the thousands that were saved that day, the LORD used Peter to deliver an important promise. Having heard Peter’s sermon, that the Jesus who had been crucified was risen from the dead and was Lord of all, the crowd was “cut to the heart,” and asked, “What shall we do?”.
To this, Peter gave the response, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit..” That’s a four-fold gift! 1) Repentance worked by the Holy Spirit in Peter’s preaching, whereby they were cut to the heart. 2) Baptism, with water and the word in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, whereby they were incorporated into Christ. 3) The forgiveness of sins, given through Baptism, and 4) the gift of the Holy Spirit. Repentance, Baptism, Forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit: what gifts they received!
And to whom were those gifts given? “To you and your children, and all who are far off.” The gifts Christ gives are gifts He freely gives to all nations (Matt 28:19). If God’s people are a family—brothers and sisters in Christ—then the promise given by the apostles which is attached to the Gospel in Word and Sacrament is a promise given for all. God’s family is a family of faith, and in that faith is a perfectly united one. In much the same way, when Peter’s sermon was heard, and the people wondered what they should do, Peter’s response was not a response for some of the crowd, and the gifts which were given and received were not gifts that were available only to some. On the contrary, the promise was for them and their children.
Repentance, Baptism, the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit were there for the entire household: men, women, children, and yes, even the youngest of them all—babies.
And this is just another way we learn to understand Jesus’ words in yesterday’s Holy Gospel, where he says about infant babies, “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” The Kingdom comes through the promise. The promise is given through the Word. The Word is given through Preaching and in the Sacraments (Baptism, Lord’s Supper, Holy Absolution). And all of this is for the entire family.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word, and unite our families through your word, to daily be cut to the heart, and through the preaching of Christ, continue to receive the gifts You freely give for the forgiveness of sins. Amen.