Call Upon This Name
Rev. Kurt Lantz Holy Trinity B Acts 2:14a, 22-36
May 30, 2021 Resurrection Lutheran Church St. Catharines, ON
People of the new Israel, hear these words:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The second reading this Trinity Sunday, continues from what we heard last week on Pentecost Sunday. Peter’s sermon continues as he addresses those from all over the known world who heard the good things of God spoken miraculously in their own family languages. In the first part of his sermon Peter emphasized that the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to speak the Gospel in all the home languages of those present as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel who said, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). That “everyone” includes you.
As he continued his sermon, Peter went on to tell the people why they needed to call upon the LORD to be saved; who the Lord is to whom they needed to call; and how to call upon that name. That continues to be the key message for us today.
Why should we call upon the name of the Lord? Why should I pray at home? Why should I gather with other Christians to call upon the name of the Lord? And once we are convinced that we need and ought to do that, then we need to know how to do it. How does one pray properly so that God will hear and answer in mercy and grace?
It made sense that the people to whom Peter preached needed to call upon the Lord to be saved. These were the Jews who had come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. The Jews were also required to come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread which was kicked off by the celebration of Passover, which is when Jesus was crucified. So these were the people who were in Jerusalem when Pontius Pilate gave in to the shouts from the multitude, and had the accusation posted on the cross of Christ: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.
Peter was bold enough to preach to the crowd that they crucified this Jesus whom God had sent, as He Himself proved through the miracles and wonders that Jesus did among them. “This Jesus... you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23). They didn’t drive in the nails themselves, and yet it was they who had done it by their desire to get rid of Him. We didn’t drive in the nails either, but have we likewise desired to get rid of an inconvenient Jesus when His Word points out our sins or condemns our religious hypocrisy?
This is why we need to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved. We are no different from the religious people who were pious enough to come to the big religious festivals, but would rather not be confronted about their hypocritical lives in which they took note of the faults of others and considered themselves to be better. So, although we didn’t hammer the nails, we crucified Jesus of Nazareth by our own desire to have Him shut His mouth about what we do and point His finger at someone else. And since we continue to do this, we still need to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved.
Peter then, went on to tell the crowd who it was that they were to call upon, and he hit them right in the gut when he preached to them from the psalms of David and concluded: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).
His first point had been “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The many languages that the disciples spoke that day proved it: everyone... even you. But the Lord upon whom you are to call for salvation is “this Jesus whom you crucified.” The one whom you rejected and killed is the only one you can call to save you. The one who suffered the agonizing death of the cross because of your desire to shut Him up, is the only one to whom you can call. He is both Lord and Christ.
Peter revealed in his sermon that this was the plan of God all along in order to provide salvation for everyone. “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed” this Jesus (Acts 2:23). He knew beforehand that we would do this to Jesus. He knew it so certainly that it was part of His plan to save us from this very sin. God foreknew it. David foresaw it and spoke about it in the Psalms. God sent Jesus. You killed Him. But “this Jesus God raised up... Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured [Him out]” (Acts 2:32-33).
This is the definite plan of God, which Jesus Himself laid out for Nicodemus when they met at night. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16). It is what David saw and Joel prophesied: “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
We need to be saved because our sins nailed Jesus to the cross. The Lord upon whom we are to call to be saved is the same Jesus who was crucified. God raised Him from the dead and exalted Him at His right hand. From Him came the Holy Spirit to proclaim that our salvation is in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone. It is there, prepared for us by God from the foundation of the world, testified in the Psalms and the Prophets, and by Jesus Himself, and now also by the Holy Spirit at work in the Word preached by Peter and pastors. Call upon this name for your salvation. For the forgiveness of your sins just call. “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
So how are we to do that? How are we to call upon His name? That’s exactly what the crowd asked Peter at the end of his sermon. “What shall we do?” Peter answered simply and gave them direction as to how to call upon the name of the Lord for salvation. It didn’t involve a three day consecration and the sacrifice of seven oxen and seven rams. It didn’t involve a pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year. It was and remains simply: “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” (Acts 2:38).
With repentance, that is sorrow over your sins and the desire to be saved by Jesus, be baptized. That is what Jesus Himself told Nicodemus. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Jesus also laid it out for the disciples after God the Father had raised Him from the dead and He was being exalted to the Father’s right hand. He told them, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
Throughout the Book of Acts we see that this is how people called upon the name of the Lord to be saved. They were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. This is how everyone is saved. “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself” (Acts 2:38-39). “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
When you are aware of your sins, that they are the sins that crucified Jesus, Lord and Christ, then call upon the name of the Lord into which you were baptized. “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...” Call upon Him and He will save you from your sins. Call upon Him remembering that you are baptized in His name. Call upon Him remembering that there is forgiveness of sins through your baptism into His name. Call upon Him knowing that you have received the Holy Spirit through baptism into His name. Call upon Him and be saved, for He has called you to Himself.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.