Acts of the Apostles
What Christianity is all about
How would you respond?
· Church experience – nice people, warm fellowship
· Psychological needs met
· A code to live by; a way of thinking that makes sense of the world
How Peter responded:
· Not intimidated, but emboldened
· Rejection of alcohol claim
· Bible based explanation
o It refers to Joel’s prophecy: this is that
o No accident: God’s promises being fulfilled
o Last days – proved by:
§ The outpouring of the spirit – not a drizzle but a deluge!
§ Personal knowledge / relationship with God – this not limited by age sex or status
§ To continue until the end of time when judgment will come and salvation is seen to be needed
§ The scope of this salvation is wide “everyone who calls...”
Having identified the significance of the events as introducing the last days, Peter continued by speaking about Jesus and his important, essential, and vital centrality.
How important it is to put, and keep, our focus on Jesus!
If people’s opinions, ideas, interests or emotions were placed at the centre then Christianity would be different for every individual. However in Biblical Christianity historical facts occupy the centre stage and challenge us to face up to reality and not to live either in a dream world or in denial.
So when Peter preached the first sermon of the Spirit age he focused on the historical Jesus, the real Jesus, and in doing so he sets the tone that Christians everywhere at all times ought to follow. He tells his hearers about Jesus!
I wonder what you could tell those to whom you speak.
Just note Peter’s drive in these verses. Having explained the significance of the phenomena which had drawn the crowd together, he immediately turned to speak about Jesus. For Peter Jesus was the one who had given the gift of the promised Spirit v.33.
Salvation is a central aspect of the period of the last days and Peter declares that it is by calling on the name of the Lord that a person is saved – it is clear from what he goes on to proclaim that the Lord in question is Jesus himself!
Listen to what I’ve got to say, Peter begins in verse 22, and Jesus is at the heart of it all! And the Jesus that Peter presents is carefully described in what follows.
Never for a moment does Peter lose sight of the amazing historical character of Jesus of Nazareth, a man a real man. You can see him emphasising this again and again:
v.23 this Jesus (this one)
v.32 this Jesus
v.36 this Jesus
Let’s consider just which truths about Jesus the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to present as being of first importance as he preached to the waiting crowd. It could be summed up in the words of one of our hymn writers:
These are the facts as we have received them,
these are the truths that the Christian believes,
this is the basis of all of our preaching:
Christ died for sinners and rose from the tomb.As we consider these facts you need to ask yourself some questions:
Do I know these facts? And do I understand them?
But you mustn’t stop there, you must go on and reflect:
Do I believe them? Are they precious to me? And do these facts affect my life in any way?
If they don’t then it may well be that whatever you might say you are it is unlikely that you are a real Christian and so you will need to think again with Peter about this man Jesus of Nazareth.
This is what Peter had to say.
Jesus was a real man with a real and extraordinary, history. Luke is summarising Peter’s sermon who – you can read Peter’s sermon in about 3 ½ minutes and you all well know that sermon is never that short!! No, Peter would have given much more detail. Jesus was a man and that meant he had parents and maybe Peter referred to his birth and Bethlehem before explaining how he came to grow up in Nazareth there he worked as a carpenter until about the age of 30. It was then that he embarked upon his three short but wonderful years of ministry.
These were rich years filled with:
· Mighty works
God worked through him in a very public manner. Jesus was known as the man who went about doing good and those listening to Peter were all very well aware of that.
The mighty works referred to his miracles which were acts carried out with divine power: they included hearings, exorcisms, nature miracles and much more. Then at the same time as doing individuals enormous good these mighty works also caused onlookers to stop in amazement and rethink their prejudices – these were wonders that grabbed the attention. In this way they served as signposts pointing to a greater and deeper reality. One example will serve to show us how this all came together. Do you remember the paralytic who was lowered through the roof by four of his friends who wanted to bring him to Jesus presence? Jesus spoke to him and said your sins are forgiven. The accompanying miracle served to demonstrate his proper authority make such a declaration. (Mk.2:1-12)
It was this one, Peter went on to say, who came to a bitter end. He was crucified and it was people just like his hearers who bore the heavy weight of responsibility. Why so? Because Jesus died for sins.
My friends, that includes you too, your sin led to Jesus being put on the cross. You too are involved in this.
But Peter had more to say – Jesus’ death was all part of God’s predetermined plan. His being crucified was no accident nor a dreadful mistake, it was the means that God had chosen to offer salvation to a sin-sick world!
And because it was God’s plan it was successful – it could not be anything else! So Jesus who died soon became Jesus who was raised up – why? Because death could not hold on to him. And this had already been prophesied in the Old Testament. This is the perfect, innocent Son of God we’re talking about here. The amazing thing is not that he rose from the dead but that he had died in the first place having been willing to suffer for sinners. But having once offered his life in such a way death hadn’t a hope of retaining him. And neither will death be able to hold on to those who are united to him by faith either.
Peter quoted Scripture again and again to demonstrate the truthfulness of his understanding of Jesus. He could do this because God’s plan had been formulated long before the events that were taking place had occurred. Now, if God’s plan spoke of resurrection then no-one should be surprised when Jesus was raised from the dead. And that is what Peter with his companions were busy telling their hearers for they were witnesses of that very resurrection!
Peter had come to hold his Master in the highest esteem. He had risen from the dead and was now in the presence of God occupying the place of authority and honour at his right hand. And this too was something that was announced beforehand in the pages of the OT. Peter knew that some of his hearers would try to maintain that the reference applied to King David and, while in some respects it did, it could never be fully fulfilled by him and Peter wanted to point that out. There are still people around who want to misinterpret God’s word and to misapply it and you need to be careful not to be misled by them.
Peter was moving towards the conclusion of his sermon and now he declared that the extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit that had been responsible for attracting the crowd that was listening to him was to be explained as the gracious work of Jesus who was keeping his promises now that he was ascended into heaven.
But what was the point of it all? What did Peter want his hearers to understand? What did he want them to grasp in particular concerning the person of Jesus?
Well, this is what he wanted them all to know and it is something that we too need to know and to grasp for ourselves too.
v.36 “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Does this thrill you? Or is it little more than words? Oh how lovely it is to know this Jesus because he is just the One we need.
The Christian faith is all about Jesus and unless we face up to the historical reality of Jesus then whatever else we might like to call ourselves we are unlikely to Biblical Christians embracing the Christianity of the Bible.
You see the real historical Jesus is the One we all need. We don’t primarily need a philosophical system, nor do we need some psychological uplift to help us with our wayward emotions. We don’t need some religious trappings spiced up with a few religious experiences. I’ll tell you what you and I need:
· We need a Saviour who is able to save us
· We need a Saviour who is willing to save us
Jesus is that Saviour, the very One you and I both need. Appointed and anointed by God to redeem us for sinful slavery, to restore us to a living relationship with the Living God and to rule over us for our eternal well-being.
This Jesus, divinely appointed and divinely enabled is ready to save all those who call upon him. I did that in my early teens and I’ve gone on doing that ever since. Do I regret my choice? No, I most certainly don’t – the only regrets I have are of not following him more closely, of not loving him more dearly and of not esteeming him more highly. I commend Jesus to you this morning. You will never find another who surpasses him, you’ll never find another who is more worthy of your time and energy than him, you’ll never come across another who deserves your praise and adoration more than he.
Call upon the name of the Lord and you shall be saved (v.21) and he won’t deceive you, he won’t fail you. You’ll find him to be more than you ever expected him to be and you’ll have a happy eternity of finding out more of his infinite worth and value.
Jesus is both Lord and Christ.
And to God be the glory.