An Activity – Spreading the Message
This game is a great way to demonstrate how God uses us ordinary people to spread the message of his kingdom. If you have a lot of people, make three groups of 15, otherwise, play the game in three rounds, and see which way wins.
For team 1 (or round 1), choose a single messenger and scatter the other 14 people around the room. Give the messenger a Bible verse to communicate and at the word ‘Go’, the messenger runs from person to person telling them the message. See how long it takes until everyone has got the message.
For team 2, again choose a messenger, but this time arrange the rest of the team in a line, close enough that each can whisper to the next. The messenger tells the first in line, who tells the next and in line, and so in to the end.
For team 3, arrange the team into a triangle. Have 8 people in a line for the base of the triangle. Four people should stand in front of them, so that each of the four will tell two on the row behind. In front of the four have two people, each of whom will tell two on the row behind. Finally, have the messenger at the front who will start the whole thing off by telling the two.
Hopefully, you should find that team 1 is the slowest, team 2 is faster, and team 3 is the fastest of all. If you are doing this with a class of pupils, you can use 31 children, adding another row of 16 to the triangle for an even more marked difference.
The point of this is that work of spreading the message of God’s kingdom cannot be left to the professionals, like in team 1. It is far too much work for one. We all need to pass on what we know. It the work of all of us.
Who are you talking to?
Or, if you’re a grammar pedant, ‘To whom are you talking?’
Or, if you’re a film buff, ‘You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?’
Now we have a title to suit everyone, let’s get to the question. Who is Peter talking to in this passage?
At first glance, it seems an easy question. It says it right there in the introduction, verse 14: ‘Peter stood up and addressed the crowd’. Job done. Sermon finished. Final blessings then off for tea and biscuits!
Sorry. It’s a bit more complicated than that. And a whole lot more interesting.
Our passage comes just after one of the most tongue-twisting parts of the whole Bible. Here is the bits that tells us about the crowd.
“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages … And at this sound the crowd gathered and … asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs …’ Then Peter stood up …“
So the crowd was the whole known world. All places. Peter was talking to those representing all of us, wherever we are. And whenever too: ‘the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off.’ All places, all times.
It’s like Peter was an early-model Dr Who, with a TARDIS that covered all of time and space. He was talking not just to the crowd in front of him, but giving the message even to you and to me, right here, right now.
God has all kinds of ways of telling people about himself. He uses the witness of creation and the inbuilt sense of God that is present in everyone. (Every culture ever known has had some form of divine – it is one of the few constants of being human.) For the descendants of Israel God used the teachings of Moses and the prophets, and for the nations around them, he used the nation of Israel. (They weren’t a particularly good example a lot of the time.) But most of the time, it seems that he likes to use people.
God’s supreme revelation was Jesus, of course, but considering that God is the Omnipotent Lord of the Universe, I have to say that I don’t think that was a particularly efficient way of getting the message across. Three years of full-time talking and only eleven guys and few women had partly got the hang of it … sort of? Not exactly broadband.
Why doesn’t God just beam his revelation right into the brains of everyone? Or use today’s mass-media? Or make it all so blindingly obvious that everyone would be instantly convinced and there would be no need for anyone to find faith.
Why spend three years doing something that God could have done in a flash (like he did with Saul/Paul)? I suppose there are two reasons: relationship and … well … relationship.
It takes time to build a relationship, and that’s why Jesus spent three years doing what could have been done in three seconds. God does not want obedient automata, he wants children giving a free response to free grace, and that means no Cyberman-earpod faith-downloads.
And as well as children, God also wants a body here on earth, so that needs more than just me and you and you. It needs us. We must have horizontal relationships as well as vertical. Links with real, flesh-and-blood, irritatingly fallible people.
So, on the Easter morning, what was the first thing Jesus told Mary to do? To tell. To tell the disciples, including Peter. And here we see Peter passing on the message. And the message was not to stay with the crowd there that day, it was for ‘those who are far off’ as well. And that’s you. And me. And all the people we know. And all the people they know.
This is good news, and it’s not for us to keep.
Whom will you tell?
Acts 2:14a, 36-41 New International Version
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd:
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
New International Version (NIV)
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