Sermon 15-4-12


Second Sunday of Easter

Sunday of Divine Mercy

Acts 4: 32 to 35

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any [of them] that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

Well, Karl Marx would have loved to have been there. This is the way the original Christian Community under the guidance of the Apostles lived.

Is this too idealistic? Can we live like this?

Of course we can! This is a matter of faith, love of our neighbours and friendship.

How could anybody possibly sell his house and use up the money on his daily living and the daily living of his friends? Well, governments in Western Society have sold national assets, like for example their telecommunications company, to pay off some of the national debt. (Do you know, that in the Lord’s prayer it says according to Mark 6: 12, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.’?)

Is this sustainable? No! So how could the Apostles have possibly organised their society like this? Well, they thought the day of final judgement is very near. They anticipated it probably during their lifetime.

1. Cor. 7: 29:But this I say, brethren, the time that remaineth is short …’

But isn’t this communism? Shouldn’t you just work for financial rewards? No, not according to today’s text!

But isn’t Communism associated with repression and suppression? Well, let’s read on:

Acts 4: 36 to 5: 10: And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his woman, sold a possession,

And kept back part of the price, his woman also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

And it was about the space of three hours after, when his woman, not knowing what was done, came in.

And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.

Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

And guess what:

Acts 5: 11: And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

Evil tongues might ask the question why Ananias and Sapphira fell down and gave up the ghost.

The problem with such societies is always the lack of faith of some, sometimes very influential persons. In Spartan society money and the possession of gold or other valuables was illegal. Yet from the fifth century BC on Sparta used money, gold and other valuables to hire mercenaries. Spartans did not rely on their bodily strength and their readiness to die. There was doubt! Even the famous Spartan general Gylippos kept some gold which he had earned himself in being hired out by his city as a general to Syracuse in its defence against Athens. When this was found out, he fled Sparta and was condemned to death in his absence.

Do we have faith? Do we believe in loving our neighbours as much as ourselves, or would we say about a homeless person, ’He had a fair chance like everybody else. Why would I give to him?’