38 “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you: 41 “‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.’” 42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. 43 When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God. 44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy. They began to contradict what Paul was saying and heaped abuse on him. 46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. 49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.
“I see the light!” The student exclaimed as he finally understood how to do the math problem. You any good at math? You haven’t seen the light with math have you? Others who have supposedly died and come back to life claim to have seen the light! Ever been there and done that? Didn’t think so. But to do mission work it is vitally important to see the light.
It was seeing the light that led Paul and Barnabas to the town of Pisidian Antioch. When they arrived, the people asked if they had an encouraging word to speak. Here is what Paul and Barnabas said, “I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.” Do you see the light? It is not figuring out math problems or dying and coming back from the dead. It’s him. It is the one in whom the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Do you see the light? It is the one who has justified you, acquitted you, declared you to be not guilty from everything you could not do yourself which is everything.
As Paul proclaimed this encouraging message of forgiveness of sins and justification some started to see the light so much so Paul and Barnabas were invited to speak in the synagogue the following week. When the people of Pisidian Antioch gathered for worship the next week almost the entire city came together to hear the encouraging words from Paul and Barnabas. Just imagine, almost an entire city going to church. Do you see the light? It’s him.
There is not nearly the entire town of the 70,0000 plus gathered together. There is not even 700. So why are you? Do you see the light or guilt? I don’t like missing church because it makes me feel guilty. I don’t like feeling guilty. By going to church, I put in my hour, feel better about myself and maybe God will reward me with some kindness for keeping the 3rd commandment. See the light or obligated? I had no choice. My parents made me. My spouse made me. I had to sing. See the light or habit? Going to church is just something I do. I am not really sure why. How easy it is for the light to grow dim which is why Paul says this, Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you: ‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.’
70,000 people are not in worship because just as what happened in Pisidian Antioch has happened in Waukesha. There are voices speaking abusively about the light proclaiming the last thing you want to do is see the light. The light is not good. The light is a waste of time. The light will not bring you happiness. Find something else anything else beside the light. The light hurts my eyes. Seeing the light is so hard. Because of
this I am going to echo Paul’s words: Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you and you no longer see the light.”
Take care. Isn’t that why we are here? To take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to us and we add to the already too large of a number who do not see the light? Saints of God, see the light! It’s him. “Know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.” God declares you to be alright before him not because of what you do or do not do based on the law of Moses summed up in the 10 commandments. Your God declares you to be alright because of Jesus, the light of the Gentiles, your light. This is the message that motivates us to keep on coming to worship and gladly hear his word. This is the message our God uses to take care of us and make sure what the prophets have said does not happen to us. This is the message our God has used to open our eyes and see the words of Isaiah proclaiming, “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth,” is him- Jesus. See the light, Jesus has brought salvation to us.
You see the light? Now look around you and see the light? The light is you! Wait a minute. I thought you said the light is Jesus. The light is Jesus but look at what Paul does. He applies these words to you and me. Listen, “47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “ ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Do you see the light? You are a light for the gentiles. You are the ones to bring salvation to the ends of the earth because you have seen the light.
God has so filled you with his light that you are now a light for those in Waukesha bringing the salvation of forgiveness of sin and justification through Jesus in what we think and say and do.
You know what the challenge is being a light. A light doesn’t go unnoticed. You can’t hide in the shadows being a light. To be sure Paul and Barnabas got people’s attention. After our text, we are told, 50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.
None of us are naïve enough to think we can go unnoticed being lights in the world. That’s frightening. Who of us hasn’t received strange looks, piercing stars, venomous words for being a light. But you know what that will not do? It will not deter us from being a light. Even as Paul and Barnabas drew attention for being a light listen to what happened, 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. 49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region.”
Just as the sun cannot control when it rises or sets or a flashlight controls where it shines, you cannot control the results of being a light. For who of you can possibly know the ones who are appointed for eternal life.? We do not have that luxury to pick and choose where we shine our light. We cannot control whether or not a person will take care and see the light of salvation. A light cannot control the results but through you the word of the Lord spreads not just in Waukesha but to the very ends of the earth. Yes, you are going to have those who want nothing to do with you, so what do you do? Do what Paul and Barnabas did, move on.
I see the light. You do not have to come back from the dead or finally understand how to do a math problem to see the light. Through Jesus you have seen the light of your salvation. Having seen the light, you are now lights as you proclaim the good news of salvation to the ends of the earth. Amen.