25 September 2019

It’s Wednesday, the middle of the week, and we’re reaching the middle of the story of Peter, John and the lame beggar who was healed.

Our Bible reading today is Acts 3 vs17-26, and we’re going to focus on verses 19-21:

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all things.”


Yesterday, we looked at the ways in which Peter’s address to the crowd reminded them, and us, of God’s story of love written through the pages of the Bible.  A story of relationship and covenant; sacrifice and rescue; promise and blessing.

However, what we didn’t focus on yesterday was the fact that Peter also reminded the Jews of their part in the most recent chapters of this book……the fact that they denied Jesus was the servant of God, didn’t recognise his Holiness or Righteousness, and turned him over to be murdered by the Romans.

You would be forgiven for thinking that this type of behaviour or attitude might see the Jewish people written out of the story for good.  And indeed those listening may well have thought the same thing, as they recalled these words from Exodus 32: “Then Moses returned to the LORD, and said, “Alas, this people has committed a great sin…….The LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.”

However, for those crowded into Solomon’s Colonnade one afternoon in first century Jerusalem, Peter presented a new message of hope.  And it’s the same message to us today in 21st century Sheffield.  “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.”

Peter deliberately uses these words in direct contrast to the Exodus 32 passage.  Rather than us being blotted out of God’s story, our sins are.  Instead of being written out, Peter tells us that we have a choice, a personal decision to make, that will enable our names to be written into the book by the Author of Life. And the answer as to how this can happen is clear in verse 19.  Repent and turn back to God.  On Thursday last week, Tom Finnemore wrote an excellent podcast all about repentance, and I really suggest that you make time to go back and listen to or read it again.  But today, let’s focus on the words “your sins will be blotted out.”

Now, when our eldest son was younger he loved the Usbourne puzzle adventure books.  I was reminded of his fascination with these ‘choose your own adventure’ stories, as I was preparing to write this podcast.  In our lives, we also have a choice about how the story goes for us.  One choice leads to a story that is marked by fear, slavery, the wilderness, a broken relationship with God, and ultimately death.  Or we could choose to turn a different way.  We can choose to repent, however painful and difficult that may be, and then move forward in our story with God.

And if we choose to take this second option, an amazing thing happens.  Everything that marked our separation from God, the places where we denied who Jesus was, the things we did that did not reflect his Holiness or Righteousness, all of them are completely blotted out.  As he died on the cross, Jesus took all our sins and wrong doings upon himself.  Those pages of our lives are wiped clean, erased, scrubbed away, obliterated.

And so when we turn back to God, and he reads the book that is our life, he sees pages that have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus.  There are no smudges, blemishes or pages ripped out.  The pages of our life have been washed as white as snow.  Fresh pages for a fresh life with God, because of what Jesus did on the cross.

And there is more.

There are three other things that are promised to us after we have turned back to God: Firstly, times of refreshing; Secondly, that there will come a time when all things are restored; And thirdly, in verse 26, we will be blessed.

This is a pretty amazing list.

Having our sins blotted out by Jesus’ death on the cross, means that the story of our life with God will be marked by times of refreshing and blessing.  It does not mean that difficulties or challenges will never confront us, but it does mean that we can live in the hope that there will come a time when all things are restored and made perfect as God originally intended.

We can read about this in the book of Revelation.  It describes the times in which the story will finally reach its fantastic and glorious conclusion.  And God wants us to be a part of it!

As we reflect on the amazing truths contained in today’s passage, let’s ask ourselves the following questions:

Do we live as those who have had their sins blotted out, the pages of our lives washed clean?  Or do we still feel smudged and stained, and like we are not worthy to be part of God’s story? If it is the latter, ask someone in your cell or cluster to pray with you this week.

And secondly, is there an aspect of our life, our story, right now, where we need to see a change or a break through?  If there is, ask the Holy Spirit to come and fill you, that you may know God’s refreshing, blessing and restoration in your life this week.


Lord Jesus, thank for blotting out our sins through your death on the cross.   Thank you that you chose to die for us, because you want all of our lives, all of our stories, to become part of your story.  Amen.

READING: Acts 3:17-26

‘Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.”

‘Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, “Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.” When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.’