39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
Peter is reminding the Jewish people standing in front of him of the promised Messiah. He tells them how Jesus has fulfilled that prophesy and that now they need to accept him and be baptized in his name. They are the chosen ones; the promise has been fulfilled; what more do they need to know? It is written that about three thousand were baptized that day. But Peter is talking about more people than those there in Jerusalem that day. He mentions those who are far off.
That includes us! Even from the start, the apostles knew that this was only the beginning of what would become Christianity. For a while, the followers of Jesus were considered to form a sect within Judaism. It was only later, when it was obvious that this was causing major problems with the Romans, that they were kicked out of the synagogues and were not welcome in the temple. Just as Jesus had predicted and the Pharisees had feared, Jerusalem fell to the Romans and the temple was destroyed. At that point, Christianity became a religion on its own. By this time, followers of “the Way” could be found throughout the Middle East and Europe. More were added as people saw how well they cared for one another and continued to thrive in spite of continued persecution by the Romans.
We know that the Jewish converts were not happy when Gentiles began to believe in Jesus through the efforts of Paul, but eventually saw that salvation was for all. We need to thank Paul and those who listened to him as they prepared the way for us.
Lord, you led Peter to see that the Jews were not the only ones who benefited from Jesus sacrifice. We are thankful for the great gift that is for all who believe. Amen.