Welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. If you’re sitting comfortably, I’ll begin……..
The telling of stories has a power that cuts across generations and cultures.
Stories can stir memories and help to connect us.
The youngest of toddlers can tell your their favourite stories, and often recite them word for word.
The summer months are full of people discussing which of the latest novels are going in their suitcase to be read at the beach.
As we get older we remember the stories that we loved as children, and so we read them to the next generation at bedtime or as they sit on our lap.
I am just finishing a book called “Even Better than Eden.” The sub-title is ‘Nine Ways the Bible’s story changes everything about Your Story.’
I’d like to read an extract from the introduction:
“There’s another story, a story that is found in the pages of the Bible – from the book of Genesis through the book of Revelation – that shapes and defines where I came from, why I am the way I am, what my life is like day to day, and what is ahead for me in the future…….And whether you know it or not, this same grand story – the story found in the 66 books of the Bible – shapes the world you live in, who you are, and what you want too. That’s why you and I need to know this story. It is where we find the answers to our questions about what really matters now and into eternity. This story has the power to change everything about our stories.”
Raised a Jew, Peter knew the story of the Bible, as did his audience. The Jewish people were prolific storytellers. The Jews cultural, social and religious identity was inextricable linked to stories of their ancestors that had been passed down the generations.
However, many Jews believed that the story had stopped, or paused. They knew the story was meant to have a fantastic ending, but it seemed like the author was experiencing writers block.
But Peter knew that actually the story was still being written, the author was most definitely still at work; it was just that the Jewish people were not on the right page.
So, as they stand in front of him, astonished and amazed at the beggar who is now walking and leaping around; Peter re-caps the earlier chapters:
“Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead.”
In verses 12-15 of Acts Chapter 3, Peter reminds those listening that they are men of Israel. Just by using that phrase, he connects them straight back in to the stories of the past – the story of their nation, the story of where they had come from, the story that shaped their whole world view, the story of God and his relationship with their people.
Recalling the story of the God of Abraham, those in the crowd were reminded that God calls individuals to himself, that he wants a relationship with people. In fact his desire for close, personal relationship is such that he actually wants to dwell with us. The story of Abraham reminded those listening that their story was one of covenant and promise; a promise that God’s people – his family – would be blessed for all generations.
Then Peter turned to the story of the God of Isaac, and the Israelites listening remembered that this story was about sacrifice. God would provide a sacrifice, so that none of his people had to die. God wanted to rescue his people, but they would need to trust him with everything, even the things most precious to them.
And then Peter drew them back to the story of the God of Jacob. What would this story evoke in their minds? Well, first they might recall that the chapters of Jacob’s life were not exactly easy reading – he stole, cheated, had a broken relationship with his brother, went on the run to save his life, and had a problem with having favourites, both in his marriages and with his children. But despite this, the pages of this story showed the Jewish people that no matter what you have done, God still chooses you and wants a relationship with you. And in this part of the story God gave Jacob the same covenant promise that he had given to Abraham – you are my family, my people, and I will bless you for all generations.
Those in the crowd knew what these stories meant to them, but do we know what they mean for us? Because the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob; is also the God of you and the God of me.
So today, let’s take some time to reflect upon why we need to know the earlier parts of the Bible; let’s make sure that we understand how significant and important these stories are to our own story.
Remember that the main plot line of the whole book is God’s desire to have a close, personal relationship with us. Remember that this story is about sacrifice. God is our rescuer, but we need to trust him with everything. And finally remember that no matter what has happened or how broken things are, God has chosen us, we are his children, and he promises to bless us today, tomorrow, and until the very last page of the book.
And the story has definitely not ended; the author is still very much at work. Even death could not stop this story. Jesus – the son of God, raised from the dead – is the Author of Life; and the story that he has written through all of time not only has the power to make the lame walk and leap, but it has the power to change every life.
Tomorrow we’ll look at our own part in this story, but now let’s pray.
Heavenly Father, thank you that the Bible is your story of love for us. We are sorry when we do not give enough time or attention to the Bible, and knowing the story it contains. Give us a new desire to read your Word to us. Amen.
READING: Acts 3:11-16
While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: ‘Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 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. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.‘