“Word for Today” – Acts 4 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

September 24, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

Red Velvet Cake 1Last month was my aunt’s birthday and Melody and I decided to have her over for a homemade birthday supper, complete with homemade birthday cake.  In our house, I do most of the cooking, especially when it comes to desserts, and so I was responsible for baking her cake.  I settled on a red velvet cake, my aunt’s favorite.  And if I do say so myself, it turned out pretty well – a beautiful two layer cake with white icing.  I was quite proud of my culinary masterpiece until Melody walked into the kitchen.  “Hey,” she said inquisitively, “What’s this red stuff on the counter…and on the linoleum…and on the rug?!”  Then I saw it.  I had made a mess out of the kitchen.  There were red specks – or perhaps, more precisely, red stains – all over our kitchen and even on my shirt.  The cake was certainly tasty, but it was not tidy.

In our reading for today from Acts 4, Peter and John are confronted by an angry mob of religious leaders who are disturbed that the disciples are “teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead” (verse 2).  Peter and John are finally hauled before the high priest and are called to account for a man they had miraculously healed in some days earlier (cf. Acts 3:1-10).  The high priest and his attendant cronies demand to know: “By what power or what name did you do this” (verse 7)?  Peter answers:

Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.” Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (verses 8-12)

Peter’s closing words here concerning salvation are some of the most famous in all Scripture.  They claim unambiguously and unequivocally that salvation is found only on Christ.  What is especially interesting to me, however, is that this response concerning salvation is given to a question concerning a miraculous healing of a cripple.  Why would Peter and John answer a question concerning healing with a statement of salvation?

The Greek word for “save” is sozo.  Notably, this word is often translated not only as “save,” but as “heal,” and is used regularly of Jesus’ healings (e.g., Matthew 9:22, Mark 6:56, Luke 8:36).  Thus, healing is equated with salvation in the gospels.  But wait a minute! How can salvation be equated with physical healing?  I thought salvation was spiritual eternal life with God!

Salvation is indeed spiritual eternal life with God.  But that’s not all it is.  For like my red velvet cake left specks of sweetness all over our kitchen, God’s Son Jesus Christ, when he came to this earth, left specks of salvation all over his earth – foretastes of what our final and full salvation with God will be like, where there will be no more sickness, weakness, death, or pain.  And so it is when Peter utters his famous words – “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” – the healed cripple is “standing there with them” (verse 14).  For he is living, breathing proof of the specks of salvation that God so generously showers on his people.  This is why “there was nothing the religious leaders could say” (verse 14).  For God’s very salvation was staring them in the face.  They could not deny it.

On the one hand, our salvation is still in the future.  It has not been and will not be realized fully until the Last Day.  On the other hand, specks of God’s salvation abound.  From creation itself to modern day miracles to Jesus’ body and blood in Communion, we see specks of God’s good salvation day in and day out.  So look carefully today.  For God’s specks of salvation are all around you.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Acts 3 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – Acts 5 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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