Volume 19, Issue 14 (April 2, 2017)
“They Were Cut to the Heart”
By Kyle Pope
On the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts chapter two, we are given a glimpse into the heart and soul of the Jewish men and women who first heard the gospel preached to them on that monumental day. Acts 2:37 tells us—“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?’’’(NKJV). What resulted from this condition of heart was the conversion of some three thousand souls (Acts 2:41) who “...continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers”(Acts 2:42).
In our day we have become very familiar with the story of Jesus’ death by crucifixion. Gold crosses hang from the necks of athletes and musicians, celebrities and models. On these ornamental crosses may be portrayed the anguished artistic representation of the dying Christ—yet people most often focus on the music, athletic skill, or beauty of the model or celebrity, not the reality of the One who died for us. God forbids the worship of images whether of true Deity or idols (Exod. 20:4-5), but what does it reflect about our culture that such images have become a casual accessory with no thought of the event portrayed?
In the church we assemble each Lord’s Day and celebrate the solemn memorial that commemorates Jesus’ death. Around a nicely polished table we break bread, which is to represent the body of the Son of God surrendering to death. From a clean cup arranged in a shining tray, we drink a sip of juice, which is to represent the blood stolen from the Savior’s veins by the stakes and spear of His filthy executioners. As we observe this memorial, we must constantly chase from our minds thoughts of the meal at home after services, the past week’s activities, the television program of the past night, an assignment at school, or the unpaid bills waiting for us. Yet, how often can we truly say we are “cut to the heart?”
Is the world so unfamiliar with the truth of the death of Christ that it is untouched by its horror? Have we as Christians become so familiar with the account that we are callused to its cruel heart-stirring realities?
When David sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba and then conspired to have her husband die in battle, the horror of his own behavior escaped him. Only when the prophet Nathan came and told him a veiled story about a rich man’s cruelty in taking a poor man’s lamb was his heart stirred to anger, then repentant sorrow (2 Sam. 12:1-7).
Are we like David, when it comes to our attitude towards Jesus’ death? Does a news report about some tragic loss of life cut us to the heart more than the message of the crucified Christ? Can we be captivated by a heartbreaking drama in a book, movie or TV show and yet remain untouched by the drama of the gospel?
The challenge for us is to realize everyday the reality of Christ’s death for us. This is not about emotionalism, but about the rational realization of what Jesus’ death was and should mean to each of us. We must keep it from becoming something that we accept casually and unemotionally and instead let it stir our hearts daily to greater faithfulness to the Lord and to His people. If Christians in this age would allow the message of the crucified Messiah to touch us as it did those on the day of Pentecost it might be that the message of the gospel would again “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) today as it did when it was first preached.