Sermon 1.8.17 Epiphany 1

Acts 10:34-38    Epiphany 1
Pastor Kenneth Frey    January 8, 2017

Acts 10:34-38  34Then Peter began to speak: “Now I really am beginning to understand that God does not show favoritism, 35but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.  36He sent his word to the people of Israel, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37“You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached. 38God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, because God was with him.

Jesus is baptized as Christ for all
1.  Jesus is anointed with the Holy Spirit
2.  To be King with power
3.  To be priest who makes peace
4.  To be prophet who proclaims good news to all


A Chicago bank once asked for a letter of recommendation on a young man from Boston being considered for employment.  The Boston investment house praised the young man.  “His father was a Cabot; his mother a Lowell.  He has Peabody’s and other fine Boston families in his ancestry.”  The Chicago bank wrote back, “We are not contemplating using the young man for breeding purposes, just for work.”  The bank didn’t care who he was, but what he could do.  

Similarly, our text tells us that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation.  For a Jew, that was a little hard to swallow.  Jews despised Gentiles.  With the history of Gentile powers dominating Judea for 500 years and the growing threat of Greek culture to their way of life, the Jews became even more hardened against Gentiles.  Just as a Jew who lived through the holocaust might see all Germans as enemies, so a Jew in the first Century saw all Gentiles as bad, the Romans especially.

Even the Christian Jews had not yet been able to break this cultural barrier.  It took this visit to Cornelius in Acts 10 and a vision from God to convince Peter that the gospel was not just for Jews, but for Gentiles as well. It took all this to convince Peter that Jesus was baptized as Christ for all.

Peter had gone to the house of the Roman soldier Cornelius at Cornelius’ request and there he had on of those “Aha” moments.  34Then Peter began to speak: “Now I really am beginning to understand that God does not show favoritism, 35but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. He finally got it.  Jesus is for all people. So he began to tell these Gentiles about Jesus.  You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached. 38God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, because God was with him. 

We call him Jesus Christ.  Christ is the Greek word which translates the Old Testament Hebrew word, Messiah.  It is more of a title than a name and it means, the Anointed One.  To anoint is to pour oil on the head.  Perhaps you have heard someone talk about a baby’s christening.  In the Roman church, when they baptize babies, they also christen them, that is, put oil on their heads.  Christening is anointing.  You can see the word, Christ, in it.  So to call Jesus the Messiah or the Christ, is to call him the Anointed One, anointed not with oil, but with the Holy Spirit and power.  38God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, because God was with him.

When Jesus went to be baptized, what happened?  As Jesus went into the Jordan to be baptized, the heavens ripped open!  The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove slowly descended from heaven and landed on Jesus, telling all who saw it that Jesus was the promised one, the fulfillment of the prophecy we heard earlier.  He is the Anointed One.  

Anointing is like an inauguration.  It was a custom used in Old Testament times for installing someone into office.  Samuel anointed David king of Israel.  Elijah anointed Elisha as a prophet and every High Priest was anointed into office.  So at his baptism Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit identifying him as the Christ, the Messiah.  Jesus’ baptism was his installation into office as our prophet, priest and king.

Peter hints at the kingly office of Jesus in our text.  38God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, because God was with him. In this presidential election season we hear candidates argue about who has more experience.  They will point to their record on foreign affairs or the economy.  Jesus’ miracles were his record showing him to be the true King, not just for Israel but for us all.  

Jesus is still King using his power for our good.  The Apostle Paul wrote, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Eph 1:22) 

All that power at work for us.  Do we daily access that power for ourselves through prayer?  Jesus will rule all things for the good of the church, including you and me, whether we ask him to or not.  But wouldn’t we want that power directed to our specific needs and concerns?  Wouldn’t we want that power at work on our health, helping with our marriage, beating back those sinful habits?  Then, let’s pray more.  Jesus is our King but he also wants us to participate in that kingdom.  He wants us to share in his rule of all things by bringing our needs to him in prayer.  Let’s use prayer daily as our conference call with the King.  That’s why Jesus was baptized.  He was anointed to be King.  He was also anointed to be priest.

Peter hints at that office also in his opening remarks to Cornelius, He sent his word to the people of Israel, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.. In order for there to be peace, hatred and anger must be removed.  David said of God, “You hate all who do wrong.”  Every death is a reminder to us that God hates sin and sinners must die.  In the Old Testament, he wanted the people to see how serious sin was by making them sacrifice bulls, sheep, goats.  These things reminded the people that there could be no peace with God until his anger against sin was satisfied through death.  But it took more than a bunch of goats.  

It took a perfect sacrifice.  It took the sacrifice of God himself.  So Jesus was anointed at his baptism to be priest to the whole world.  The writer to the Hebrews tells us, “Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (Hebrews 7:27) His one sacrifice on the cross fulfilled God’s anger against sin, all sin, every sin, of every person.  Jesus is sacrifice for all and he carried out the sacrifice himself.  He is priest for all.

He is our priest and we need him, don’t we?  We have been at war with God, born with a hatred in our hearts.  We have repeatedly launched attacks against him, vainly attempting to shoot holes in his will for us.  Try as we might, we could not defeat God.  All we have done is give God more reason to be angry with us.  But then Jesus comes with what?  The good news of peace, Peter calls it.  In the cross of Jesus Christ all God’s anger was buried with our sins.  We are at peace.  That’s good news.  

But there is still a problem.  Sinful human beings do not want to give up.  It isn’t that they don’t want peace and well-being; everyone wants that.  But people do not want to accept the peace terms that God offers.  That is not surprising.  We started the war in the first place.  It is understandable that we would want to fight to the finish.  Understandable, but horrible.  

But there is good news here as well.  The good news that communicates peace to us is also the power of God to bring that peace into our hearts.  That power is the power of the anointed Christ, God’s prophet to all.  That office is also hinted at in Peter’s words to Cornelius.  36He sent his word to the people of Israel, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. Jesus is the Prophet who brought the good news of peace to Israel. Just to Israel?  Peter thought so for a time.  But he had that “Aha” moment at the home of Cornelius where he announced, “Now I really am beginning to understand that God does not show favoritism, 35but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.  The good news was not just for Israel; but for all people.  It wasn’t just for Jews but for Gentiles as well.  It was indeed good news of peace for the world.  

God has brought that peace to us in his word and sacraments.  As we celebrate Jesus’ baptism today, we also remember our own.  Through baptism we have been brought into Jesus’ kingdom, we receive the good news that we are at peace with God.  In our baptism, all that Jesus was anointed to be for the world becomes our own.  In baptism he becomes my King, my Priest, my Prophet, my salvation.  But not just mine.  Its for all.

God had someone do for you what Peter did for Cornelius.  Maybe it was your parents, may a friend or relative, maybe your spouse.  Maybe you were baptized as an infant or maybe you first heard the word in old age.  But God had someone bring the good news of peace in Jesus.  God wants us to do the same for others.  Through the church, in your private life, in your culture or across cultures, God wants us to pass it on.  And he doesn’t care to whom.  After all, God does not show favoritism.  He doesn’t care who gets it.  He wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  He died for all.  He was baptized as Christ for all.  May we share it with all.