These pulpit notes are provided unedited and will thus contain some grammatical or typographical errors.
It is Holy Week. Jesus Christ has been rejected by man and crucified alongside criminals. Many who looked upon him considered him cursed of God and suffering the death which any blasphemer deserves.
The Jews would later come and ask Pilate to have the bodies taken down from the crosses before Passover. Pilate would agree and send centurions out to break the legs of the crucified in order to expedite their deaths. However, when they came, they found that of the three, Jesus had already died.
John tells us that prior to Christ’s death, he cried out “It is finished”, bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Joseph of Arimathea who carried Christ’s cross then comes to Pilate and asks for the body of Christ. He and Nicodemus prepare the body of Christ and lay it in Joseph’s new tomb, not far from the cross. We are told in the book of Matthew that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary sat opposite the tomb and watched as the men anointed the body according to the burial custom of the Jews and laid him there.
And then, Matthew tells us:
Matthew 27:62-66 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.
Jesus is dead, his body is buried, and the tomb is sealed.
- As far as the Jewish leaders are concerned, it is over. Jesus, the threat to their power and authority. The one who denounced their hypocritical, godless faith and drew the people away from them – is dead.
- As far as Pilate and the Romans were concerned, The Jews lust for blood has been satiated and the cause of the near riot and possible insurrection is dead.
- As far as the followers of Jesus were concerned, their teacher, their friend, and their Lord, their messianic hope is dead..
- The dreams of people crushed
Mark 16 tells us that on the first day of the week – Sunday, the disciples could be found mourning and weeping over the death and burial of Christ. (Mark 16:9-12)
He was certainly friend and master, but he was also their messianic hope.
Thousands upon thousands had seen and/or been affected by his miracle working power. They were convinced that He was the one. The son of David, the great prophet, the final priest, the coming King – the Messiah. Now, his disciples are absolutely disheartened, despondent and hopeless. The fact is, since early in Christ’s ministry his enemies were seeking to put him to death and now, they had succeeded. From an earthly perspective, the enemies had won, Christ is dead and all messianic hope is lost.
BUT THEN SUNDAY CAME
So, on that Sunday morning the women – Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome (Mark 16:1), went to the tomb
…as they went…
Matthew 28:2-4 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
..when they arrived…
Luke 24:2-9 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.
Jesus was not dead, he was risen. What did this mean? Jesus Christ was indeed the Son of God. He did indeed perfectly fulfill the law. He did indeed suffer according to God’s predetermined plan. He did indeed defeat death, and sin, and Satan. He did indeed rise from the dead, just as he had predicted.
The women went, the first witnesses of the resurrection and told the others. The Bible then gives us the accounts of a flurry of post-resurrection appearances of Christ to his disciples.
- The same day he appeared to Mary Magdalene. (Mark 16:9; John 20:17)
- He appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5)
- He appeared to two despondent disciples who were taking a road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-21)
- He appeared to the disciples, minus Thomas (Luke 24:36-43)
- He appeared to the disciples with Thomas (John 20:26-31)
- He appeared to the 7 disciples who were fishing (John 21)
- He appeared to 500 at once (1 Corinthians 15:6)
His post-resurrection appearances occurred over 40 days. Luke summarizes for us:
Acts 1:3-4 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
But Jesus did not rise bodily from the grave and appear to his disciples so that he could set up his earthly kingdom as many had hoped and imagined. Luke continues…
4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me;
So, the disciples have had quite the amazing few weeks. They have gone from the fearful, disappointed, disillusioned, depressed followers of a crucified messiah, to the joy-filled, hope-infused, passionate followers of the risen Son of God.
Having now been fully convinced of the reality of Christ’s bodily resurrection and his identity as the Son of God, they obey him and go and wait in Jerusalem just as he had told them. There they prayed and waited for the Holy Spirit to come, as Jesus had promised.
Now, let’s read in Acts 2 to see what happened next:
Acts 2:1-41 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians–we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” …
The Jewish leaders were fearful that the disciples might steal the body of Jesus and start a rumour that he had risen from the dead. They were concerned that if the rumour-mill got churning that Christ’s resurrection might become some sort of urban legend and would garner and even bigger following.
But what do we see in our text? Pilate, or Herod, or the Jewish Leaders, or the Centurions were absolutely powerless to stop the birth of Christianity. God launched his church, not with the whispers of rumours but with the earth-shaking, miracle-producing descent of the Holy Spirit of God (Acts 2:1).
As Christ’s opponents would soon learn, more powerful and more concerning for them, would not be the rumours of resurrection, but the undeniable evidence of resurrection as seen in the newfound boldness of Christ’s disciples as a result of the descending and indwelling Holy Spirit. Look at how Peter is immediately empowered and emboldened by the Spirit in verse 14. He stands and preaches to the Jews who had some weeks before rejected and called for the crucifixion of Jesus:
…14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know– 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.’ 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Peter, he who denied Christ and wept bitterly as His Lord as taken to be crucified. Peter who was so slow to believe. Peter who rebuked Christ when he prophesied his death and resurrection and then completely missed the significance of those events. This Peter stands before thousands of Jews – with a new-found, holy spirit empowered boldness and delivers a powerful sermon with the resurrection as his main point.
This morning, I’d like to look at Peter’s powerful sermon and examine his 5 main points regarding the resurrection. In doing so, we will see how the resurrection is central to the Christian faith, and that event which demands repentance from all men.
First of all, we see from Peter:
1. His Resurrection was determined by God from the beginning.
Acts 2:22-23 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know– 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
First, Peter would have his audience know that although Pilate, or Herod, or the religious leaders, or the murderous mob might think they were in control of the events of the past few days, they were not.
Although these Jews were entirely culpable for handing Jesus over to the Roman authorities to be crucified, and that with no legal justification, this does not mean that God was not in control. All these events unfolded according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.
Any power or authority which these sinful men had over Jesus, was permitted by God according to his own plan to effect salvation for mankind. Jesus said as much during his trial before Pilate:
John 19:10-11 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”
The apostles also recognized this duality. Both the guilt of Jesus’ conspirators and the fact that God was working through it all. As they prayed in Acts 4, they said:
Acts 4:27-28 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.
From the moment Adam and Eve sinned, condemning man to utter sinful depravity, the Lord set in motion a plan to reconcile mankind to himself. In order for this reconcilation to take place, God’s justice against sin would have to be satisfied while also providing a means of escape for sinners.
Jesus accomplished both of these things through his crucifixion. He bore the wrath of God against the sin of the world, and then defeated sin’s penalty by rising from the grave. In doing these, he both satisified God’s justice, and made a way of escape for all who would believe in him. It is in this way that, according to Paul in Romans 3, God remained just while also becoming the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26).
And make no mistake, although Jesus’ death was according to the Father’s predetermined plan, Jesus gave himself willingly.
John 10:17-18 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
So, Peter preaches – you are guilty of delivering your Messiah over to lawless men, to be killed. However, do not think that Jesus was not entirely in control of his own life, or that the Father was sitting idly by. All these events were in fulfillment of thousands of years of prophecy which foretold God’s plan to accomplish salvation for mankind.
And notice what else Peter says in verse 22:
Acts 2:22-23 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know–
Peter is driving home the point that not only are these men guilty, but they have absolutely no excuse. God attested to Jesus’ identity by doing many mighty works, and wonders and signs, right in their midst. They had received clear revelation from God that Jesus was His Son, sent to reveal the Father and the way of salvation. Had these men known the scriptures, and if they had a genuine love for God, as they claimed, they would have responded to this clear evidence and received Jesus as their Messiah.
Instead, this clear evidence served to expose the rebellion of their own hearts. They rejected Jesus in the face of incontrovertible evidence that he was exactly who he claimed to be.
But, as we’ve said, even this played out according to God’s predetermined plan. God’s plan for redemption included both the death and the resurrection of his Son, and nothing would prevent it from being carried out.
[His resurrection was determined by God from the beginning]
2. His Resurrection verifies the authenticity of God’s Word.
Acts 2:24-31 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.Notice what Peter says in verse 24, “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” It was an impossibility for Jesus to remain dead. It was impossible for him not to be raised from the dead. And why? Because he is the Son of God? Yes, that is true but that is not what Peter says here. Because he himself was not a sinner? Yes, that is true, but that is not what Peter says here. What he says is that it was not possible for Jesus to be held by death, because of what the scriptures say.
Look in verse 25 where Peter appeals to the book of Psalms. He says, “For David says concerning him,” and then quotes Psalm 16:8-11. After the quotation, in verse 30, Peter refers to David as a prophet.
Peter’s point is that not only did the events of Jesus crucifixion unfold according to God’s predetermined plan, but that Jesus’ resurrection was also clearly promised by God, through scripture.
In Psalm 16, David looked forward the one who would sit on his throne eternally. He saw the coming Messiah, the greater Davidic King. He saw a future descendant who, unlike any other Davidic King, would not see an end to his reign. Whereas death and the grave would claim every other King, the Christ could not be held by them. He would rise again, escaping corruption.
Peter appeals to the prophecy in Psalm 16 as evidence that the resurrection was not only foretold but inevitable. It was impossible for it not to happen.
God’s predetermined plan, and the scriptures prophetic testimony both pointed to the fact that the events of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection were all according to divine design. If Peter’s audience knew God and his word as well as they claimed, they could have known these things.
This is not the only place we see an appeal to the Old Testament scriptures to prove that the death and resurrection of Jesus were both necessary and inevitable. Jesus himself, in speaking to some disciples after his resurrection, says:
Luke 24:25-27 … “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
So, on one hand we see the scripture validating the authenticity of the resurrection and on the other hand, we see that the fulfillment of these events serving to validate the authenticity of God’s word.
These events were foretold, and so they happened. They happened and so they fulfilled what was foretold. It’s in this way that Jesus’ resurrection verifies the authenticity of God’s word.
But, not only does Jesus’ resurrection verify the authenticity of God’s word, but it also verifies his own words. How so? Because Jesus foretold his own resurrection.
John 2:19-21 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
Matthew 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
Matthew 26:32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”
Jesus himself set the standard for his own authenticity as the Son of God and for the veracity of His words – if he rose from the dead as he said he would, then he must be who he claimed to be and all that he taught must be received and obeyed; if he died just like every other man and did not rise, then he is not who he claimed to be and can be dismissed as just another false teacher.
The scripture and his own statements are validated through the resurrection. On the other hand, if he did not rise, neither the scripture, not his own claims would be true.
In fact, if he did not rise, then faith in him would be entirely pointless. The apostle Paul made this abundantly clear in his letter to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 15:12-19 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
No resurrection – no risen Christ
No resurrection – preaching vain, faith vain
No resurrection – false witnesses
No resurrection – still in sins
No resurrection – dead are all perished in Hell
No resurrection – no hope, miserable lifeNo resurrection, Christ has not credibility, the word of God has no credibility, our faith has no purpose
[His Resurrection was Determined by God from the Beginning]
[His Resurrection verifies the authenticity of the word of God]
3. His Resurrection is central to Christianity and the focus of our witness
Acts 2:32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.
The only reason that Peter had anything to say in front of the crowd of thousands on the day of Pentecost is that God has raised up Jesus. Peter and the other disciples all stood as witnesses to the resurrection. And you know what? To this day, the resurrection of Jesus is the only reason any of us as Christians have anything to say.
This truth underpins everything else we as Christians have to say. The disciple’s encounter with Jesus after his resurrection was so powerful and so important that it was the key subject of their witness wherever they went. In fact, in the book of Acts, every time the disciples are called witnesses, it is in reference to their witness of his resurrection. For example:
Acts 1:22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us–one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.”
Acts 4:33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
The disciples continual preaching of the resurrection of Jesus became a persistent annoyance to the unbelieving Jews of their day:
Acts 4:1-2 ¶ And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus is the centerpiece of our faith. It is the apex upon which our entire message turns. To preach Jesus is to preach the resurrection. A Christian faith, or denomination without a physical, literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus is apostate. It is heretical. It is a pointless, powerless, perversion of the truth.
It’s not surprising then that when we eavesdrop on Peter’s witness to Cornelius in the 10th chapter of Acts, we find him sharing the good news of the resurrection:
Acts 10:39-43 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
The same is true as Paul preached to the philosophers in Athens:
Acts 17:18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”–because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
We Are Witnesses
As Christians, we are witnesses of the resurrection. Because you and I have seen the resurrected Christ? No. We are witnesses of the resurrection in a different way. First, we testify to what the scriptures proclaim about the resurrection of Jesus. But secondly, we also testify to our own experience of resurrection power.
Jesus saved me and I know it because the Holy Spirit is present in my life and producing evidence of his presence. My life has been transformed just as Jesus promised it would be. He has given me a love for the Lord, an affection for fellow believers, and a distaste for the world, just as he had promised. The word of God, whether read or preached or sung, refreshes my soul. It challenges me, comforts me, convicts me, and changes me. I am now daily driven to prayer, resting in my renewed relationship with my heavenly Father.
You and I are witnesses of the new spiritual life which has been made possible, only by the resurrected Jesus. If Christ were not raised, the Holy Spirit would not have been sent, and you and I would remain in our sins. You and I would not have experienced spiritual renewal.
However, Christ has been raised. He has sent the Holy Spirit, and you and I have been raised from spiritual death. Our present spiritual growth, and transformation stand as witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus.
When Paul prayed for the Church in Ephesus, he prayed that they might come to the know:
Ephesians 1:19-20 …what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
If there were no resurrection, Christianity would have died in the first century. Why? Because there would be absolutely no evidence that faith in Jesus actually changes people. That is not what happened however. In fact, in response to Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, we will see 3000 Jews gloriously saved. Upon their faith in Jesus, they would receive the Holy Spirit and as a result, the church would be born. That church, committed to one another, loving one another, and behaving like Jesus with one another, would serve as a clear testimony that Jesus was alive, and making his people more and more like himself.
Acts 2:42-47 ¶ And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
You and I are witnesses to the resurrection when we continue in loving fellowship with fellow believers in the context of the church. This fellowship is supernatural. The love, unity and community which has been forged between all of us, from such diverse backgrounds and of such disparate personalities is only explained by Christ’s resurrection power.
John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (cf. John 17:23)
So, the resurrection of Jesus is central to Christianity and the focus of our witness. Our witness when we proclaim the gospel to the world, and also our witness when we live-out the gospel in the fellowship of the church.
[In God’s plan from the beginning]
[Verifies the authenticity of the word of God]
[Central truth of Christianity and Key to our witness]
4. His Resurrection crowns him Lord and Christ
Acts 2:33-36 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.’ 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
If Peter’s hearers were not already struck with fear and trembling at this point in his sermon, they would be now. Peter goes on to say that Jesus not only died according to God’s predetermined plan, and has been resurrected according to scripture’s prophecy, but that he now reigns as God’s appointed King.
Jesus is not only alive, but he is exalted. He is seated at the right hand of God – a position of power, privilege and preeminence. Further, it is Jesus who is responsible for the events unfolding before their eyes and ears.
The loving fellowship of unified disciples, the miraculous speaking in foreign languages, the spontaneous praise of God, the boldness of the disciples, it was all the product of the Holy Spirit. It was all produced by Jesus, as he sent the promised Spirit upon his disciples.
What they were experiencing in that moment was incontrovertible proof that Jesus was not only alive, but that he was reigning as Lord.
And notice what Peter says in verses 34-35, as he quotes Psalm 110:
34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.’
Not only is Jesus reigning in a seat of privilege and preeminence next to God the Father, but it is from this position of power that he would see his enemies defeated.
You can imagine that if you were one of those who called for the crucifixion of Jesus, or were indifferent to his murder, how these words would hit you. The one whom you victimized, now reigns with all the power to conquer his enemies.
The Meek Messiah has become the Risen Lord and he has all power to act as the Conquering King. As Paul would later say:
Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So that, now…
Romans 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Why must we confess the risen Christ as Lord? Because His resurrection guarantees that He will return as judge. We must repent of our sin and believe in him…
“…because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:31
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
And so, Christ rose. He was not resuscitated only to die again like Lazarus. He was resurrected. His resurrection affirms his deity, his identity as the Son of God, and the reality that he will return as judge.
Christ is the only risen Lord and the only one to whom men owe their allegiance. Christianity claims exclusivity because the resurrection demands it.
Peter and John after healing a lame man proclaimed:
Acts 4:10-12 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
And so, we learn that Peter’s message at Pentecost, all about the resurrection, demands a response. And we could say that this message, here at Calvary on this Easter morning, also demands a response. And what is that response?
[His Resurrection was in God’s plan from the beginning]
[His Resurrection Verifies the authenticity of the word of God]
[His Resurrection is the Central truth of Christianity and Key to our witness]
[His Resurrection crowns him Lord and Christ]
5. His Resurrection Demands repentance from all men
Acts 2:37-39 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
Peter’s sermon had its intended affect. God used the preaching of the resurrection of Jesus to convict the crowd of their own sin; to lead them to repentance and to faith in Jesus Christ.
“Repent and be baptized.” That is, turn from your sin. Turn from your rejection of Jesus. Repent and be baptized in his name. To be baptized in his name means to take his name upon yourself. Identify with Jesus. Trust him and him alone as your saviour. Confess him and him alone as your Lord.
In other words, repent of your sin and become a disciple or follower of Jesus. And what will the result be, according to verse 38? “…for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The free forgiveness of sin, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. That’s what the resurrected, exalted Lord Jesus gives to those who repent of their sin and believe in him.
The forgiveness of sin frees us from sins penalty, which is death, and It brings reconciliation between us and God. The Holy Spirit brings about new spiritual life. The Spirit makes us spiritually new, dwells with us forever, and continually makes us more and more like Jesus.
What incredible gifts. What unmatchable blessings. Forgiveness and the Spirit. And these are exclusively for those who believe in the resurrected Jesus.
We started out by saying that Christ’s opponents were concerned about disciples stealing a body and rumours starting about resurrection. It is amusing to see their meager efforts to stop the spread of Christianity in contrast to how God actually chose to launch his church.
In his providence, God arranged for these events to take place when thousands of Jews were present for the day of Pentecost. Then, with a massive audience, he sent the Holy Spirit with outward, undeniable signs, so that all men heard the mighty works of God spoken in their own language.
Beyond this, the crowds would be astonished by the powerful preaching of uneducated, and formerly timid men. These Holy Spirit empowered words would penetrate right to their hearts and they, overcome with guilt, and convinced of Jesus as the Christ, would themselves bow the knee and confess him as Lord.
If the corrupt religious leaders, or the civil authorities thought they might be able to keep a lid on this thing, they were sorely mistaken.
Christ is risen, he is Lord of his church, and the gates of hell will never prevail against it. All that he sends his Holy Spirit to do, will be accomplished.
Look what happens next:
Acts 2:40-42 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
And here we are 2000 years later. The Spirit is still making disciples. He is still convincing men of the gospel. He is still transforming skeptics and sinners, the fearful and lost, into faith-filled followers who have the resurrection on their lips and proclaim it boldly to all who would hear.
Is that you this morning?