2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Just try and imagine being part of a culture and faith that has been passing on the promise of a Messiah for hundreds, even thousands of years. Imagine tucking your children in at night and reminding them that He will come. Imagine if you can being part of the generation that believes He will finally come in your lifetime.
Now imagine standing there in the streets of Jerusalem and learning for the first time that He was here and you were part of the crowd seven weeks earlier that cried "Crucify Him!" Talk about a gut punch. How do you recover from that? What do you say to your children?
"Men and brethren what do we do now?"
For me the worst part of regret is that no amount of feeling bad changes anything. Nothing that has been done can be undone. So where does that leave us? Where did it leave the crowd that day? What is Peter's response?
Are you ready for this?
First he said repent. That's not a word we really use anymore. It simply means to turn away from something you were doing or thinking because you now recognize how wrong/bad/destructive/untrue it was.
When Dr. Phil asks someone "How's that working for you?" he is essentially in a sarcastic way telling them to repent.
This crowd had bought into the view of Jesus that was being pushed by the religious leaders. They needed to let that view go and take a second look. They needed to repent.
Then Peter says they need to be baptized in the name of Jesus "for the remission of sins".
For such a brief statement it sure packs a lot in. Speaking of 'in', the literal definition is "on the basis of". You need to be baptized on the basis of, on the foundation of, the name (character) of Jesus. Why? For the remission of sins. Here is the definition of remission: a sending away, a letting go, a release, pardon, complete forgiveness.
There is nothing we can do to alter or change our past. The way we have treated people or treated God is done. Our actions are irretrievably committed and no amount of regret erases a single thing. All turning away (repenting) does is ensure we stop repeating the cycle. However even that positive consequence of repentance is not what Peter is getting at here. Quite the opposite actually.
Peter is talking about turning from an entire mindset and belief system that I'd contrary to the name (character) of Jesus. The truth is that Jesus was murdered to preserve a religious system and culture that was rooted in performance. It was a system where worth and advancement were entirely dependent on the achievements of the individual. You must observe Sabbath precisely. You must wash your hands a certain way. You must pray a certain way. You must dress a certain way. You must behave in certain ways etc... and if you succeed you will be rewarded.
'Repent' says Peter. 'Be baptized' which is dying and being buried to the old ways and rising clean and new to live under a completely different system.
What is this new way? On the basis or foundation of the name of Jesus.
Did you know the early followers of Jesus were simply known as "the people of the Way"? You see with Jesus the foundation of our success is not our own achievements. The foundation is His character. A character that is unchanging and unchangeable. A character that cried out (as He was being murdered by the very crowd that stands before Peter now) "Forgive them Father, because they don't know what they are doing."
Blinded by self-obsession and the mantra of religious performance they couldn't see what they were doing. Jesus at the time was simply a threat to their carefully crafted security blanket of customs and rules.
Turn from yourself and whatever you think you are or are not (both are self-obsession). Bury it. Wash it away. Get rid of every trace. Build on the foundation of His character. Build on the Way, the Truth, and the Life for no one comes to the Father but by Him.
Think about it. Our foundations are already cracked and broken and there is nothing we can do about it.