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JESUS, LORD AND CHRIST

Acts 2:22-2:47
Key Verse: 2:36

Today’s passage is an account of the first Christian sermon ever preached and Peter’s first message among his eight messages in Acts. In the last lesson, when people were bewildered at the work of the Holy Spirit, some even some making fun of the Galilean apostles, Peter explained about the work of the Holy Spirit by quoting the prophecy by Joel. God’s outpouring of the Holy Spirit will cause “your sons and daughters [to] prophesy, your young men [to] see visions, your old men [to] dream dreams…And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” These words of prophecy were great and the fitting explanation for the coming of the Holy Spirit. But Peter did not stop there. Continuing his message, he had to speak of Jesus, whom men had killed but God raised to life. Peter had a clear view of Jesus as well as the Holy Spirit based on the Scriptures. In today’s passage let think about who Jesus is through Peter’s message and how the Christian community began.

First, the first Christian message by Peter (22-36). Look at verse 22. “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” Peter began with these words as he spoke of Jesus. He focused on Jesus’ powerful life with miracles, wonders and signs. Thus Jesus was accredited by God to the Israelites. Jesus of Nazareth, the historical Jesus, did what no humans could do. The story of the four Gospels ends with the words, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” Even when we think about only the wonders and miraculous signs he had performed, he was outstanding and matchless in human history. Jesus once said, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves” (John 14:11). Jesus did not carry out supernatural works secretly in a remote place; he did it among the people. On one occasion, when a large crowd went along with him, Jesus raised a widow’s only son, a dead young man who was in a coffin being carried to a graveyard. Then people said, “A great prophet has appeared among us; God has come to help his people” (Lk 7:11-16).

Then what did Peter say further about Jesus? Look at verse 23. “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge and you with the help of the wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” Jesus was not handed over to them because he did something wrong or had no power to resist them; it was according to God’s deliberate plan. Although they had many chances to seize him, they could not do so, because God’s set time had not yet come. At the right time, the very time God had set, he was arrested to be tried. It was God’s exhaustive plan. Yet, Peter said, “And you, with the help of the wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” They had committed the crime of murdering the innocent Son of God. Then regardless of man’s terrible crime and wickedness, what did God do? Look at verse 24. “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” This is the first resurrection message delivered by men after Jesus rose from the dead. The agony of death is for everyone. No one could be freed from the agony of death. But God freed Jesus from the agony of death. For it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. Death could keep its hold on everyone but not on Jesus, the innocent Son of God. The resurrection of Jesus is the greatest news mortal hears could ever hear. Jesus himself gave many convincing proofs of his being alive to his disciples. It had to be believed throughout generations. God raised him from the dead.

Now Peter confirms the truthfulness of Jesus’ resurrection through the words of the Scripture. Look at verse 25. “David said about him: ‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’” When we read this Psalm (16:8-11), we see that this is David’s own confession of faith and then there is the conversation between David and God. Undoubtedly, these words show David’s resurrection faith, which was the source of his strength and joy. But what can be the correct and full understanding of this Psalm? Let’s see Peter’s view of this Psalm. Look at verses 29-31. “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.” Through the illumination of the Spirit Peter could understand this Psalm correctly and deeply that David spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, not the resurrection of himself in this Psalm. In this way Peter proved the resurrection of Jesus Christ based on the Scripture. God did not raise Jesus from the dead all of a sudden. He raised Jesus according to the Scriptures. This supports the truthfulness and authenticity of Jesus’ resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus is more than certain.

Then Peter declared, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.” It is God who raised Jesus who was buried in the tomb to life, not abandoning him to the grave. In these words Peter assures that the resurrection of the Christ is the fact: “We are all witnesses of the fact.” We cannot be witnesses of some assumptions and theories. People are to be witnesses of facts, sure events. Resurrection witnesses are needed in the world, because the resurrection is so new to mortal mankind and the resurrection of Jesus was seen by his chosen ones only, while his death on the cross was displayed to the world. This is a repeated teaching in Acts. As we studied, in choosing another person in the place of Judah Peter said in 1:22, “…For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” Here Peter clearly said, “God raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.”

Look at verses 33-34. “Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’”” In these words of the Psalm Peter talked about how Jesus could pour out the Holy Spirit on his people. This is through his ascension and exaltation by God. His exaltation is also according to the prophecy in David’s Psalm. Now he is sitting at the right hand of God.

Then here is Peter’s conclusion of his message. “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” What an amazing proclamation! The people in Jerusalem, when Jesus was on trial, shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” When Jesus was crucified and died helplessly on the cross, they thought he was gone and would be no more. The Jews and the Romans regarded him as one of the mortal human beings. But God raised him from the dead. He raised the Jesus in the tomb to life. Finally, Peter proclaimed, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” This was truly a revolutionary thing, the world-shaking event, in human history.

At the time of Jesus’ birth an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds in a field and said to them, “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” This was the message by an angel of the Lord. Here, Peter as a human, for the first time delivered the message of Jesus being both Lord and Christ. When Jesus was still alive, Peter made a confession of Christ, saying, “You the Christ of God,” when Jesus asked, “Who you say I am?” Then Jesus told him about his suffering, death and resurrection. Christ, Messiah, is God’s promised and anointed One. Jesus would be Christ through his death and resurrection to save mankind from their sins. And then when he ascended to heaven and sat at the right hand of God, he was confirmed as the Lord. God made him both Lord and Christ. Paul said of Jesus the same thing in Philippians 2:8-11, “…he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

In the first century the world was the Roman world; Caesar Augustus, the first emperor was ruling the world and thought and believed as the Lord. However, he left the world stage, another was raised in his place, inheriting his authority and power. At that time Christianity was born, but Peter was assured that God made Jesus both Lord and Christ, and let all Israel be assured of this. Since then almost 2000 years have passed and the message of Jesus being Christ and Lord has been spread to the world, including us. Still, the question remains in many people’s hearts, even in the hearts of many Christians: “Who is the Lord? Who is ruling the world?” In our times people regard science and human technology highly and control other human beings and rule the earth. We are surprised to hear about verichips and chem-trailers. Ungodly people are claiming there are more than two genders and try to let such a strange teaching creep in the minds of young children. Godless people seem to rule and control the earth in an attempt to make one global village, completely denying Jesus, Lord and Christ. Yet, all things are happening according to the Bible. The book of Revelation says about how the world will be going and gives us the sure hope. Revelation 11:15 says, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.” He reigns and will rule with his love and truth for ever and ever. Personally, many things make us worry living in this world. We need to set apart in our hearts Christ as Lord in accordance with Peter’s admonishment in 1 Peter 3:15. We must be assured that Jesus is Christ and the Lord. May we live in this world with this faith and see the world with this personal belief. He is Christ and the Lord over my life and family and over our campus and nation and over the whole world.

Second, the first Christian community (37-47). Look at verse 37. “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’” This was their sincere response after hearing Peter’s message. They were convicted of sin and conscience-stricken. They asked anxiously what they should do. How did Peter help them? Look at verse 38. “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of yours sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Peter did not merely comfort them. And he did not let them waver between Jesus Christ and the world. When they showed a right attitude, Peter gave them a clear direction: Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. This is the same as Jesus’ first message on earth, “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mk 1:15) Repentance is turning to God from our sins and from this world. Baptism is the expression of one’s repentance and declaration of faith in Jesus toward the world. This is the way to receive the forgiveness of our sins. Then Peter said, “And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” When we repent of our sins and put our faith in Jesus, God forgives our sins and the Holy Spirit dwells in us to guide our Christian life in this world. Peter continued, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Look at verse 40. “With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’” In our Christian life we should have a correct view of the generation and the world. Jesus once lamented, “O unbelieving and perverse generation…” (Mt 17:17; Mk 9:19; Lk 9:41). Those who repented and received the grace of forgiveness should save themselves from the corrupt generation. Paul said in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” All Christians need this direction after believing in Jesus. Those who accepted Peter’s message were baptized and about three thousand were added to their number.

After believing in Jesus and saving themselves from the corrupt generation, the believers need a new community. It is very important to have Christian fellowship in the world. Peter did not ask for private and individual conversions only, but for a public identification with other believers. Commitment to the Messiah implied commitment to the Messianic community, that is, the church. All believers need a new Christian community. What was the first Christian community like? Look at verses 42-47. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” The Christian community was characterized by Bible study (continuous learning of the Scripture), and prayer and holy fear, experiencing God’s living, sharing what they had, gathering together in the temple, having formal and dignified worship services, having informal meeting at homes eating together with glad and sincere heart, praising God, and evangelizing other people through their life and preaching. Then the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

We could hear the first Christian message by Peter, the crystal clear and powerful apostolic gospel. God raised Jesus from the dead. He raised Jesus buried in the tomb to life. He made this Jesus both Lord and Christ. May we put our absolute faith in this Jesus our Lord and Christ and save ourselves in this corrupt generation so that we can live in this world as his holy people and the witnesses of his resurrection and so build our Christian community for God’s world evangelization.

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