“But you denied the Holy and the Just and…….killed the Prince of Life whom God raised from the dead.  Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did your rulers…”  Acts 3: 14,15, 17

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart and said to Peter….’Men and brethren, what shall we do?'” Acts 2:37

“And the high priest..saying: ‘And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intent to bring this Man’s blood on us!'”  Acts 5:28

Filter: (verb) to act as a filter for; to slow or partially obstruct the passage of  (www.dictionary.com)

You’ve probably been in a class or perhaps at a party where you’ve tried an experiment or played again around filtering communication.  It starts with one person being told something just to them.  They in turn tell one more person, who tells another, who tells another and so-on until the message is passed to the last person.  The last person and the first person compare messages and often times the message is vastly different at the end then at the beginning.  Why?  It is because we filter the messages that we get.  Based on our experiences, beliefs, upbringing among many other things, we take the words we hear and then add our meaning to them.  Then we act on them.  But as you can see from the definition, filtering is going to cause the obstruction of some of the message. Depending on how much of the original message is obstructed, our actions may be extremely detrimental to ourselves and others because of our filters.

Jesus has been crucified, raised from the dead and has ascended back to His Father in Heaven.  Jesus has forgiven and reinstated Peter and given His great commission to His disciples.  So Peter and the disciples go forth, starting in Jerusalem and start to preach the good news of the gospel.  He preaches Jesus Christ as the Son of God, condemned by His own people, crucified, buried, risen and now at the Right Hand of God.  But Peter doesn’t stop there.  While He accurately portrays the evil of the people, he also states that it was done out of ignorance.

Now the filters kick in.  First, there are some who hear it; probably some of the same ones who stood in the crowd yelling for Jesus to be crucified and their filter is one of responsibility, one of guilt and one of remorse.  How do we know? By their actions.  They  do not hurl accusations and excuses back at Peter.  They don’t shout for him to be quiet.  No, they ask Peter, now that they have done this terrible thing, what can they do now?  Is there a possibility of atonement?

Unfortunately, the repentant filter was not the only one being used.  For many of the Jewish Leaders, including the High Priest, heard only accusation, threat, blame and judgement.  They did not hear or completely ignored (probably because this uneducated commoner was calling them ignorant) Peter’s comment about their actions being out of ignorance.  How do we know? By their actions.  The leaders arrested Peter and others.  The leaders beat them.  The leaders threatened them.  The leaders accused Peter of trying to condemn them of being guilty of murder when they believed themselves innocent of blood (they forgot they told Pilot, let His blood be on them and their children).

How did these filters effect the people using them?  Well we know those who heard Peter, were convicted in their hearts, repented and then joined the church, had their hearts changed and rejoiced in the risen Christ.  We know that they joined the first church, sometimes by the thousands in one day.  As for the others, not much is written in history specifically about them.  We know that they were not able to stop the preaching of Jesus.  Scripture tells us they lived in fear; both fear of the people who were listening to the disciples and fear of the Romans and how they might react.  Historians tell us the Caiaphas was removed as High Priest by the Roman procurator, Vitellius.  We don’t know how many were alive to see the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD.

So what does all of that have to do with today?  Because today, we also hear things, we hear the preaching of the gospel and we read things, we read Our Father’s Holy Word in the bible.  What do our filters tell us?  Are we hearing and reading words of threat, judgement, division and hate?  Or are we hearing words of peace, mercy, forgiveness and best of all love?  Based on what our filters have obstructed; what do our actions look like?  Do we act out of judgement, arrogance, self-righteousness and pride?  Or our actions based on humility, meekness, kindness and forgiveness?  You see, the filter that the enemy, the devil wants us to use, blocks messages of hope, redemption, forgiveness and love.  His is the filter of the world.

But Our Heavenly Father has seen fit to give us His Filter, a perfect filter, in the person of the Holy Spirit.  This Filter allows the message of hope, peace, joy and everlasting love to flow through unobstructed.  This Filter insures that the Message of Our Heavenly Father, through His Son Jesus Christ flows swiftly and clearly into our hearts.  With the Filter of the Holy Spirit in place, we can act in ways where the world sees the Light of Jesus Christ through us, beckoning all to come to Him.  The world’s filter tries to take out all things Holy.  The Holy Spirit’s filter removes all things worldly.  The question for you and I is; which filter will we choose?

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, You have taken great pains to communicate Your Word to us; the prophets of old, the disciples of newer and Your Very Son, Jesus Christ.  We humbly confess that we sometimes use the wrong filter, filtering out messages of peace, joy and love for worldly message of  judgement, pride and hate.  Forgive us Most Merciful Father and grant us the strength to resist the worldly filter and hold fast to the Filter of the Holy Spirit.  Put Your Message through Him in our hearts.  That our actions may show that we are Yours and bring praise to Your Most Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen