Message: Easter in Acts
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Purpose: Jason Calvert
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Acts 12:1-18 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: You may recall that in Acts 2 Luke sets the scene and describes the mission of the Church. The early Church members waited for the blessing of the Holy Spirit on their lives. When the Holy Spirit descended, they shared the story of Jesus with everyone in their own cultural expression (through different languages). Here, Luke reveals the leap in the mission. James, the brother of Jesus, was to take the lead. Peter was to go into hiding. Paul was to go to the Gentiles. Acts 12 serves as the marker in the transition of the early Church, and I would argue that it was no accident that this transition occurred over Easter.
It is simply too easy for us to read the first few verses and completely miss what I call the “Technic” connections (complex ideas requiring deeper analysis). Why did Luke tell us twice about the season in which this took place? Why did he explain that it was “during the days of the Unleavened Bread” (Acts 12:3) and “after the Passover” (Acts 12:4)? What is it that is so important here? What was happening to the Church to “advance” the mission? How does Passover connect with Easter?
Passover is the ultimate celebration each year within the Jewish community. It serves to remind the Jewish people that God saves. You would think that their minds and hearts would have been focused on repentance and appreciation during this time. Yet, just ten years earlier, several of the Jewish leaders were plotting and maneuvering to arrange for the death of Jesus Christ. Please do not think for one moment that this is a Jewish problem. History shows many leaders of all faiths who at some point plotted to kill people with whom they disagreed. Not least the leaders who killed more than 6 million Jews in the last century. This is sadly a human problem known as sin. But tragically, during the sacred time of this Passover, these particular leaders arranged for the execution of James and arrested Peter. Rather than focusing on gratitude, as is the custom at Passover, they moved to the classic oppressors’ agenda of power and control. Could it be that we do the same with Easter today? Do we ignore all that Easter has called us to remember?
Recalibrate: What does Easter mean to you traditionally and what would you like it to mean?
Respond: Share a prayer of thankfulness for being rescued.
Research: Read the Passover story in Exodus.
Japhet De Oliveira is senior pastor of Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado.
Play Peek-a-Boo or Hide-and-Seek with your toddler. Knowing that you will always find them or that you are there when they open their eyes brings so much joy to them and you. Know that when we close our eyes, God is with us, even when we are hiding.
We start this story with Peter in jail with no way of escape. Have you felt trapped before? Maybe you are struggling in school and you have no friends and the teacher is mean. Know that God has a plan to make something good happen.
Have you ever heard a songwriter’s song, pastor’s message, teacher’s lecture, parent’s advice, social media personality’s perspective, and/or a marketing department’s commercial that was totally out of touch with your actual life? Have you ever been presented with a thought in the name of religion or spirituality and your initial reaction was, “This has absolutely nothing to do with my real life?” The passage this week begins with this exact scenario. The story takes place during Passover. Do you remember the point of Passover? This Holy Celebration was a remembrance of God’s supernatural protection of His people. Verses 1-3 indicates that it was during this time that James was killed and Peter was thrown in jail. The religious spiritual message didn’t seem to connect with the church’s present reality. It appeared to have nothing to do with their actual life. The good news . . . in the midst of this perceived irrelevance, God blows them away with His incredible relevance. I wonder how God’s planning on shocking you.