Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
All of Israel
Peter begins his speech, on the Jewish festival of Pentecost, by addressing the
whole house of Israel. This is a wonderful expression from the Hebrew scriptures (e.g. 1 Sam. 7:2; Ezek. 37:11). The house of Israel has been scattered and divided for centuries by this time. Many were lost in exile of the northern tribes, and the others were scattered during the Babylonian Exile. Even though some returned, some did not. After the exiles, the house of Israel was never again united. Even so, they were not abandoned by God. The LORD who once called his people together, would not allow them to remain forever apart. The coming of Jesus is a step in the restoration of Israel to its inheritance. Therefore Peter proclaims to all Israel, whether at home in the land or in the diaspora, the time of fulfillment is near. Through Jesus, physical distance is no longer a barrier to the promises. In his own body, he unites his people and once again makes them whole. However, this wholeness comes with a price.
Pierced to the Heart
[W]hen they heard this, they were pierced to the heart. This is a beautiful and telling phrase. The house of Israel is pierced to the heart upon hearing that they have participated in killing the messiah. Jesus too was pierced to the heart, for the sins of the people. Now, they must confront what they have done. This is an essential element of the Christian mystery. The work of Christ does not merely free us from sin and death but draws us deeper into the drama of salvation. God will not save us without us. He wants all to participate in his plan actively. Thus, when the house of Israel hears of its actions, they are called to unite themselves fully with Jesus. Just as he suffered and was pierced to the heart for the sins of the people, so must they be. They make salvation their own and actively spread its effects by becoming like Jesus. Uniting themselves to the crucified messiah, the listeners are given the freedom to submit to God’s plan. They receive baptism and the Holy Spirit. Then the new believers devote themselves to the apostolic life.
The process of conversion seen in the crowds is the same process of conversion which we undergo. We too must be united to the passion of Jesus so that we may rise with him. When we have been pierced to the heart, we gain the heart of Jesus. He gives us the freedom of conversion which empowers us to be his disciples and live the apostolic life of fellowship, prayers, and the breaking of the bread.
 I. Howard Marshall, “Acts,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic; Apollos, 2007), 542.