Salvation Comes Through Belief In Jesus
Tuesday of Week 6 in Eastertide
Acts. 16:22-34 & Jn. 16:5-11
The response to the psalm, "You stretch out Your hand and save me, O Lord” sums up the theme of today's readings. God reaches out to save each one of us, and they show how His Spirit acts in different ways according to our needs.
Paul and Silas punished for preaching about Jesus, were flogged, thrown into prison and chained to the stocks. The other prisoners must have been amazed to hear them singing and praising God. They could have been overwhelmed with fear but the Holy Spirit answered their prayers, gave them courage, and saved them from despair. Very soon they were saved from their imprisonment in a most spectacular way.
An earthquake shook the prison, shattering the prisoners' chains and bursting the doors open. The jailer, who had been told to guard his captives closely, was terrified. He knew he would be punished severely by his superiors if the prisoners escaped, so he thought the only thing to do was commit suicide. It was Paul, filled with the Spirit, who saved the man's life by assuring him that he and his companions would not try to run away. When the jailer witnessed the power of the Spirit he admitted his need for salvation. It was then that Paul and Silas were able to instruct him and his family, leading them to believe in Jesus who has saved the whole world from sin.
The Holy Spirit does not always act in such a dramatic manner. In the Gospel Jesus explains that after His Ascension the Spirit will come into men's hearts, teaching the truth, strengthening the faith and comforting the sorrowful. It is unlikely that God will reach out to us in an earthquake or tongues of fire; His Spirit will come to us quietly, reassuringly, whenever we acknowledge our need of Him. We may be imprisoned by fear or despair or sin, but if we ask His help He will stretch out His hand and save us.
For the last few weeks Saint John has been sharing with us his memory of Jesus’ farewell message to His apostles from the Last Supper. They were sad at the thought of Jesus leaving them. He assures them He has to go but they are not to fear because He will send them the Advocate, the Holy Spirit: He will show the world how wrong it was about sin, about Who was right and about judgement. The apostles probably did not understand Jesus' words about the Holy Spirit's task but the Holy Spirit will help believers see that the basic sin which people commit is their refusal to believe in Jesus. Now we can understand how right Paul was when he told his jailer, “Become a believer in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” That message is as true and necessary today as it was when Paul spoke it.
Lord Jesus, may more and more people be given the gift of faith, because it is through believing in You that salvation will come to them.