Cut to the heart!
There is a portion of Holy Scripture which for me really cut to the heart. It comes to us from Acts Chapter 2 verses 14a, 36-37: But Peter standing with he eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
The reality of what these people, who heard the message of conviction from Peter, were experiencing had to be a total shock to them. Yes, this Jesus that they were a part of putting to death, and who came back to life, truly was the person he said he was. The horror of their heinous crime literally came bearing down on their souls. In panic they cried out to Jesus’ close followers seeking guidance to try and reconcile in some way the crime they had committed.
For me, I realize that I was also a part of putting Jesus on the cross. Jesus went to the cross carrying my sins, as well as the sins of every other human being. When the prophet Isaiah was speaking about the Passion of the Christ in Isaiah 53:4-6, he was talking to you and me in a more futuristic context. “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Most definitely, you and I could be under the heavy burden of guilt just as those people listening to Peter were. Yet, because Jesus did die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, we have the wonderful blessing of knowing we have been atoned for by His great sacrifice. As Christians and disciples of Christ, we are not bound by the chains of anguish and despair. No, we have been freed to live as redeemed children of God and to share the message of salvation which comes in having a personal, saving relationship with Jesus. Guilt can be an effective tool at times, but I believe Jesus would rather have us use His love (the Gospel) to change hearts and lives. Pastor McCarty