Following on from the last blog as to why Jesus is a blessing, Peter boils it down to Acts 3:26 and the reason “God raised up (resurrected) his servant,” which was (and is) “to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
So the reason Jesus was resurrected is very much something we experience personally, it’s very much meant to be a blessing, and it very much involves a noticeable transformation in who we are. So it should be easy for us to detect all three – but even more so with the help of what happened in Ephesus in Acts 19.
Because when Paul arrived in Ephesus in Acts 19, it was to a city heavily influenced by evil spirits (verse 12). So how could God “bless” people in such a city and turn them from their wicked ways?
Well, first of all, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul” in verse 11, which included dislodging the “evil spirits” that inhabited people (verse 12). When other Jews tried to cast out demonic spirits too, but couldn’t (verses 13-16), people were “seized with fear” and “held the name of the Lord Jesus in high honour,” verse 17, to the point of “openly confessing their evil deeds,” verse 18.
So here’s a city dripping with evil spirits and evil deeds, but in Acts 19:18 people are already confessing their “wicked ways,” and in verse 19 they’re even burning their sorcerers’ scrolls in a massive public bonfire. So, owning up to evil’s influence and turning from it, even in such an evil city as Ephesus, is possible – thanks to the resurrected Jesus doing what God sent him to do.
But it’s in the book of Ephesians by Paul that we get to see the blessings that come from Jesus turning people from their wicked ways – real examples, in other words, that we can expect to happen to us too.
We see God as “kind,” for instance, in Ephesians 2:7. What an easy but remarkable change that is to detect, especially when compared to our view of God before Jesus got to work on us. Now we see God as a loving, big-hearted and affectionate Being we can “approach with freedom and confidence,” Ephesians 3:12.
And instead of seeing people as enemies, we are freed from that evil too, just like the Jews and Gentiles had their enmity stripped away in Ephesians 2:11-19. We actually find ourselves happy being “completely humble, gentle, patient, and bearing with one another in love,” Ephesians 4:2. And being “kind, compassionate and forgiving each other” in verse 32 as well, rather than being eaten up with the evils of “bitterness, rage, anger and malice” (verse 31).
These are easily detectable differences that prove Jesus is on the job turning us away from our old wicked ways, just as “building others up according to their needs” in verse 29 is, and so is our revulsion of “obscenity, foolish talk and coarse joking” in Ephesians 5:4, or being addicted to “greed” (verse 3) and getting drunk (verse 18).
What maybe appealed to us before, but did no one any good, including ourselves, we now find we have no love for. What we find instead is our love growing for our mates and wanting the best for them (5:25-29), and for our children (6:4), and for those we work for or employ (6:5-9).
And when personally overwhelmed by the world in which we live we reach for the armour and protection God has provided for us – as described by Paul in Ephesians 6:10-17 – to remain positive, hopeful and encouraged, rather than try to fight through our problems ourselves.
These all make “Jesus being a blessing” in our own experience easy to detect, and they also prove it’s true that Acts 3:26 is very much something we experience personally, it’s very much meant to be a blessing, and it very much involves a noticeable transformation in who we are.