It would be impossible to overestimate the importance of this portion of Scripture. We’re looking at Acts 2, versus 14 through 36, the first sermon preached the day the church was born. The first truly apostolic sermon recorded in Scripture, the first apostolic sermon ever preached.
Everything that happened on that day was building up to this sermon. The Lord chose this day for maximum impact.
The Feast of Pentecost
This was the Feast of Pentecost, 50 days after Passover. Christ had been crucified on Passover. 50 days later came this great Feast of Pentecost, Pentecost meaning 50, in which there was a celebration of the Feast of Harvest.
The feast was the right feast to select because the feast was a celebration of God’s provision for a harvest. And of course, the coming of the Holy Spirit on this day signaled God beginning to gather the great harvest of His redeemed church.
Baptized with the Holy Spirit
The church, the believers, were, that day, baptized with the Holy Spirit, placed into union with one another and union with Christ. They were then filled with the Holy Spirit. They became a powerful force. They launched immediately into evangelism. Immediately.
The very first thing the church did
The church immediately went into action, and the very first thing the church did, Peter representing the church, took the lead. He preached a sermon. He preached a powerful, evangelistic sermon, at which people 3,000 people were converted.
Launched the Messianic age
Now, this is such a monumental moment that you have to understand: this is what officially launched the Messianic age. In redemptive history, this day launched the Messianic age. How long have they been waiting for that? Since Genesis 3, since Genesis 12? Throughout all of redemptive history, waiting for the arrival of the Messiah? Waiting for the inauguration of the Messianic age?
Audio miracles, video miracles, linguistic miracles
Obviously, something monumental had happened. Audio miracles, video miracles, linguistic miracles, and then God’s glorious works are being declared. Something happened to the people who made up that little group of 120. They were, up to this point, afraid, and hesitant, and powerless, and hobbled by questions, and fears, and doubts. And then, all of a sudden on the day of Pentecost, there’s this explosion of the new age.
The first sermon
And the first sermon goes like this: “This is the Messianic age, therefore the Messiah has come. Let me tell you who He is.” And Peter tells them, “It is none other than Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had just crucified.”
…and it goes on to give the full prophecy, all the way down to the very end of the Messianic age, where the “sun is turned into darkness,” verse 20, “the moon into blood, and the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.” The Messianic age has begun with the coming of the Spirit; it ends with the destruction of the world.
The theme of the sermon
…starting in verse 22, we come to the second part of this great sermon: the theme. The introduction, explaining Pentecost; the theme, exalting Jesus Christ. Here, verses 22 all the way down to verse 36, Peter presents Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.
His subject is Jesus Christ.
What Joel 2 prophesied is happening
Jesus of Nazareth, whom you crucified, “both Lord and Messiah.” That’s his sermon. This is the Messianic age. How do you know that? Because what Joel 2 prophesied has started to come to pass. Supernatural communication. The pouring forth of the Holy Spirit. This is the beginning of that era. And if it is the Messianic era, then the Messiah has come; let me introduce Him to you. It is no other than the one you crucified.
Peter proves his claim piercing 3000 hearts
So, Peter has to set out to prove this claim, to prove to his people that Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had crucified, was in fact, their Messiah. His argument is so powerful; it is so unavoidable that 3,000 people are stabbed, that’s the word in verse 36, they are stabbed in the heart. Or verse 37, rather. They are pierced. Peter uses reason and argument based on Old Testament passages.
His first line of evidence that Jesus is the Messiah is that God has attested to that through miracles, wonders, and signs.
The Holy Spirit convicts them
And he says, you know this. “As you yourselves know.” God was manifesting His power in Christ to attest to the fact that He is God’s Messiah. As you yourself know, because all these miracles are done before you. “As you yourself know” is a convicting statement. The Holy Spirit convicts the Jews of sin and rejecting massive evidence of Christ’s miraculous approval by God, demonstrable proof that He was the Messiah
God did this, he says. It was done by God. Later in the verse, “which God performed.” He repeats it twice. You saw it, it was in your midst, you know it, you have sinned against light.
God’s predetermined plan
This Man delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”
He was surrendered to His enemies. But know this: “This Man was delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.”
It’s a predetermined plan. That literally means to set boundaries, to mark out a boundary. This is all what God has done. It means to be appointed, to be designed, to be decreed, to be determined, to be set. Christ was delivered to death because God planned it, and God ordained it.
Never a time of decision
Edgar James writes, “To say that God made a decision based on preknowledge would mean that there was a time of indecision”
…There was never a time of decision, so there was never a time when God got information He didn’t have. It’s impossible.
If they knew the Old Testament
If they knew the Old Testament, they would’ve known that the Messiah had to die. Isn’t that what He told His disciples on the road to Emmaus? Didn’t He go back into Moses and the law, and the prophets, and the holy writings, and speak of the things concerning Christ? If they knew the Old Testament, they would know.
He is not a victim. Jesus is not a victim. This is all in the plan of God, but you are guilty. You are guilty.
The great culmination of Peter’s sermon
Here is the great culmination of Peter’s sermon. The greatest accreditation of Jesus as Lord and Messiah: His resurrection. This becomes the major theme of all apostolic preaching. It starts in verse 24. “But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” The Messiah’s sufferings were foreordained, predetermined by God. So was His resurrection.
Here’s how blunt Peter is. “You killed Him. God raised Him.” You killed Him. God raised Him. All through this sermon, by the way, Peter emphasizes the difference between how God treated Jesus and how Israel treated Jesus. You killed Him. God raised Him.
This becomes thematic. Look at chapter 3. Peter preaching again, verse 14. “You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,” Barabbas. “You put to death the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.” You killed Him. God raised Him.
For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him.” You fulfilled prophecies you didn’t even recognize.
Peter is going to prove from Psalm 16
Peter is going to prove from Psalm 16. What he does starting in verse 25 is a really beautiful expression of how Psalm 16 is to be understood. And you’re going to find that wonderfully rich, but we’ll have to wait till next time…