Gospel: Bless You

Have you ever wondered why people say, “God bless you!” when you sneeze? During the deadly Roman Plague of 590 A.D., Pope Gregory I ordered that anyone sneezing be blessed immediately since sneezing was often the first sign that someone was falling ill with the plague. By 750 A.D., it became customary to say “God bless you” as a response to sneezing.

But many centuries prior to this, Peter concluded his sermon in Acts 3 with a reminder that God indeed wants to bless us, not that we might be delivered from a deadly physical plague but a deadly spiritual one. Listen to his closing words: “Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (v26).[1]

First, Peter wanted his audience to understand the One God sent to bless. He tells us that God raised up His Son Jesus to be the One sent to bless. The words “raised up” don’t refer to His resurrection here but rather to His appointment (see v22). Jesus was appointed to send God’s blessing.

When we consider our sinfulness, it is astounding that God sent His Son to bless us rather than to blast us! But John 3:17 says, “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” God did not send Jesus to condemn us, because we were already condemned. But Christ came and died upon a cross for our sins that we might have that sentence of condemnation lifted and be blessed with God’s forgiveness.

Second, Peter wanted his hearers to understand the ones God wanted to bless. He said that Jesus was sent “unto you first.” His listeners were Jews, and Jesus Christ first came to His own people (Joh 1:11) with an offer of God’s blessing. But notice that Peter did not say “unto you only.” The offer of God’s blessing is available for every single person in the world, including you. Again, John 3:17 says that “the world through him might be saved.” The verse before it reads, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Don’t miss the fact that God wants to bless you.

Finally, think about the way God wants to bless you. God has something in particular He wants to do for you, and it’s found in the last phrase of Peter’s sermon – “turning away every one of you from his iniquities [or sins].” God wants to set you free from your sins because your sins will take you to eternal judgment and keep you from His heaven.

The prosperity gospel, which promises the physical blessings of health and wealth, is not found in the pages of the Bible and is far more deadly than the plague of 590 A.D. But the gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, promises the spiritual blessing of salvation from sin, and all who put their trust in God’s Son receive forgiveness, peace, joy and eternal life. Let God bless you right now by receiving Christ as your personal Savior.

[1] All Scripture quotations in this article are from the KJV.