GETTING THE MESSAGE/Acts 2:24-36
In his sermon the apostle Peter makes these vital points, viz. Jesus is the Messiah written about in the Old Testament. He has conquered death by his resurrection. He is now at God’s right hand, the King over all. He has poured out the Holy Spirit as evidence of his rule (and grace). He will be the judge of all men.
Peter tells the multitude that Jesus of Nazareth is the one all these truths are connected to, and that they were complicit in his death. Imagine conspiring to put to death the Son of God, through whom all was made, who is the anointed one of God, and to this all Scripture testifies. But we are all complicit in Christ’s death, so we need to hear Peter’s sermon.
Peter states that Christ Jesus rose from the dead, he didn’t see corruption. He says Psalm 16 pointed to this (verses 25-28). If you have seen a dead body, you have seen a terrible sight. Jesus was dead, yet he is now alive. Peter says “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death (verse 24).” The expression means death tried to bind him, hold him, but it wasn’t possible. He burst through the bonds, conquering death.
His resurrection declares his atoning work on the cross met the demands of God’s righteousness, and those who believe in him are justified by his blood. He is alive forever more, and all those united to him are also. Psalm 116 anticipates the joy of those in Christ: “I lift up the cup of salvation…precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”
Apart from Christ, we have reason to dread the presence of God; but now his presence is life and joy. We are dressed in the righteousness of Christ; we have borrowed clothes, white robes to appear before God in, provided by the Son of God.
Christ is the bread of life. Manna was a type of Christ. Manna was sweet; Christ is a delight to the soul of his people. God gave manna freely from heaven; so Christ is a free gift, enduring the shame of the cross so we would know God. Everyone could gather manna; rich, poor, old, young. And there was enough for all. No need to envy the grace of others, there is a sufficient portion for you.
Who can plumb the depths of the salvation of God in Christ? Our understanding of it is dependent on our seeing that it is entirely undeserved. Peter is proclaiming God’s offer of salvation to enemies of God. There is none in the crowd who have honored God, or sought to glorify God. Rather they have lived in rebellion to God, despite having privileges beyond others in the world, and were determined to see the Son of God crucified.
Even now, though Christ is King over all, how much there is of rebellion. There aren’t many who bow before the King. But Christ didn’t die in vain. The Spirit of God was not poured out in vain. God will have a people his own, who proclaim the name of Christ and who glory in that name. As Paul told Timothy in difficult times, “God knows who are his.”
All those who come to Christ confess they were his enemies. They come for forgiveness, and receive it; life also. Peter quotes Psalm 110 with respect to Christ’s kingship; his enemies will be his footstool. The psalmist warns enemies of Christ; those who don’t come to him for salvation remain enemies. They will face him as judge, not as savior.
There is almost an implied universalism in our day; that all will be accepted in heaven. We hear everybody has their own unique story, which is true enough, but it isn’t a good story with a good ending. The Son of God sent into the world to die an accursed death, suffering the wrath of God for sinners, is a warning to those who reject him.
But believers can rest in peace. God’s perfect sacrifice gives us a sense of perfect security. He spares us because he spared not his own Son. And we have the words of Christ to us: “He that believes in me shall never die.” As soon as our life of nature is gone, we enter into his glory forever. So believe in him, look to him, rest in him; find life in him.