Last week we heard about the Holy Spirit coming to Jesus' disciples after Jesus had gone up to Heaven. The sound of rushing wind, what looked like fire resting above each of their heads, it must have been incredible (and a little scary!). And then they spoke to the crowd, in many different languages, telling everyone how great Jesus is. After that, Peter stood and spoke to the large crowd of people who had gathered, and this week we'll be looking at what he had to say to them. Watch the video:
Today's Bible passage comes from Acts 2: 14-24; and verses 32-39. The Good News Translation is below, or you can use a different translation if you like. (It's a fairly long passage today. If your children are younger, feel free to just read the first half of it.)
But Peter stood up with the eleven apostles, and in a loud voice he spoke to the crowd: “My fellow Jews, and all of you who are in Jerusalem, listen to me. Pay attention to what I have to say. These people are not drunk, as you think; it is only nine o’clock in the morning! But Joel the prophet wrote about what is happening here today:
‘God says: In the last days
I will pour out my Spirit on all kinds of people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
At that time I will pour out my Spirit
also on my male slaves and female slaves,
and they will prophesy.
I will show miracles
in the sky and on the earth:
blood, fire, and thick smoke.
The sun will become dark,
the moon red as blood,
before the overwhelming and glorious day of the Lord will come.
Then anyone who calls on the Lord will be saved.’ Joel 2:28–32
“People of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus from Nazareth was a very special man. God clearly showed this to you by the miracles, wonders, and signs he did through Jesus. You all know this, because it happened right here among you. Jesus was given to you, and with the help of those who don’t know the law, you put him to death by nailing him to a cross. But this was God’s plan which he had made long ago; he knew all this would happen. God raised Jesus from the dead and set him free from the pain of death, because death could not hold him.
So Jesus is the One whom God raised from the dead. And we are all witnesses to this. Jesus was lifted up to heaven and is now at God’s right side. The Father has given the Holy Spirit to Jesus as he promised. So Jesus has poured out that Spirit, and this is what you now see and hear. David was not the one who was lifted up to heaven, but he said:
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit by me at my right side,
until I put your enemies under your control.”’ (Psalm 110:1)
“So, all the people of Israel should know this truly: God has made Jesus—the man you nailed to the cross—both Lord and Christ.”
When the people heard this, they felt guilty and asked Peter and the other apostles, “What shall we do?”
Peter said to them, “Change your hearts and lives and be baptized, each 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. This promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away. It is for everyone the Lord our God calls to himself.”
We all do things wrong, and we need to be forgiven. But God promises that if we turn back to Him and say sorry for our sin, he will forgive us. (If you have never accepted Jesus or asked for his forgiveness before, after you've done this exercise, also pray the prayer at the very bottom of the page.)
(For those too young to write or draw, talk them through the following exercise. Feel free to write/draw for them, or just explain/do it verbally).
Get some paper, a pencil, and a felt tip pen (the chunkier, the better, and preferably in a fairly dark colour). Find some space where you can write, or draw, and spend some time thinking of specific things you've done that you want to ask God's forgiveness for. Write or draw those things in pencil.
Then tell God you're sorry for those things. Ask Him to forgive you, and to help you not to do them again. Now read the following Bible verse, and copy it out in your nice dark felt pen. Write it over the top of the list you've already written or drawn.
"If we confess our sins to God, He will keep his promise and do what is right: He will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing." - 1 John 1: 9
You should be left with a piece of paper - and on that paper is a faint list of the things you've said sorry to God for, and which you can trust that God has now forgiven you for. Hopefully you can no longer read your list of sins, because God's promise of forgiveness is written boldly across them, blocking them out. Trust and know that God always forgives us when we ask Him to.
Lord Jesus, we're sorry for the times when we've disobeyed you. Thank you for dying on the cross to take our punishment, and rising again to prove you are more powerful than even death itself. Thank you that we can have the Holy Spirit living in us, helping us to know you better and follow you more closely. Help us to be more like you each day. Amen.
If you've never accepted Jesus or prayed for God's forgiveness before, you might want to pray the following prayer also:
"Jesus, I know that you made me and want me to obey you with all my heart. I know I have sinned and wanted to be my own boss. I am sorry. I know that you gave up your life to save me from these sins and make me your child again. I accept your promises and ask you to please save me now and forever. Amen.