And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name.15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,
16 “‘After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins,
and I will restore it,
17 that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord,
and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,
says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known from of old.’ – Acts 15:12-17
Whenever Christmas or Easter rolls around we preacher types look for some new angle on the old, old story of Jesus’ birth or his death and resurrection. There is good cause for this, people who have heard the stories over the years can too quickly become jaded by it. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ve heard all that before,” we imagine them to say. So we look for something new.
In fact on this occasion Paul and Barnabas are telling the Jerusalem church leaders something really and significantly new: The Gentiles were receiving the Gospel, and were coming to faith, and were manifesting signs and wonders as testimony (not to themselves, but to Paul, Barnabas, and now the leaders in Jerusalem) of the legitimacy of their conversion and faith. This is new. This is very new!
But not so fast. This is really not new at all. This is a 750-year-old story – if not older. Paul quotes Amos and Isaiah, who had expressed these things as fait accompli when they wrote those words. God had already made up his mind to save the Gentiles. It was a done deal, for what God decides, God does.
This is good news for us today, for God decreed that the Good News of the Gospel would be spread from Jerusalem, to Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). So it is an old story of sin and grace, love and redemption, mercy and justice, from the foundations of time. That’s an old story worth telling and sharing. Thank God someone shared it with me…and you…and your brothers and sisters in Christ. I wonder with whom he would have you share it this week?