And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm,
‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.’
As to his raising him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, ‘I will give you the holy promises made to David.’
Therefore he has also said in another psalm,
‘You will not let your Holy One experience corruption.’
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, died, was laid beside his ancestors, and experienced corruption; but he whom God raised up experienced no corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; by this Jesus everyone who believes is set free from all those sins from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, that what the prophets said does not happen to you:
‘Look, you scoffers! Be amazed and perish, for in your days I am doing a work, a work that you will never believe, even if someone tells you.’”
As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people urged them to speak about these things again the next sabbath.
Did you hear the one about…stop me if you’ve heard it before… oh, you have?
I have three hobbies – supporting Liverpool FC; listening to, and playing, acoustic music and watching comedians. Alright, I suppose technically that’s four but bear with me. Occasionally, the first and last of those could be considered the same thing. Liverpool last season where a bit like the Robin Hood of the Premier League – we took from the rich and gave to the poor. But it’s the promise, or at least the hope, of being entertained that links all three (or four – I can’t decide, you’ll have to make up your own minds.)
But whilst I’ll watch Liverpool as often as I can, and go and see the same band or musician more than once I won’t go and see the same comedian twice on the same tour. Why? Because it will just be the same old same old. The same set list, the same jokes. And, whilst I can listen to the same song being played time and again (that is, after all, why we buy music) a joke is the same every time – same build up, same punch line and, once you know what the punch line is, there’s little point in listening to it again. A joke is never as funny second time around.
And yet here we have Paul and Barnabas on tour and the people of the church in Antioch asking them to do their set again the next week. In the same place. To the same crowd. Talk about a tough gig!
They’d heard the set ups, They already KNEW the punchlines – what was going to be different?
Clearly the people in Antioch were mind-numbingly bored. Or maybe, just maybe, they were so deprived of good news, or found the good news that Paul and Barnabas were telling them so exciting, that they wanted to hear it again and again and again.
The description of Paul’s speech in Acts sounds like a good set up… he sets the scene, quoting Psalms, he gives context to the story reminding the audience about David and then he delivers the punchline.
And what was this good news? What was the punch line? Because of Jesus, you can be forgiven for your sins.
And nobody laughed – but the crowd went wild.
Loving Lord, The news always seems to focus on the bad things The things that are going wrong in your world Help us to remember that there is good news, too, And that you have called us to share that good news with others. Amen
Leo Roberts is the Children’s and Youth Development Officer for the North Western Synod.