In your Bibles, turn to the second chapter of Acts, and we’re continuing in our study of Peter’s sermon, preached on the day of Pentecost, the day the church was born. Now, I might preface our message this morning by saying it’s very basic what we’re talking about because you have to understand that Peter is preaching to a group of people who don’t know scratch, which is vernacular for nothing, about theology and have really never been able to interpret anything because they have no precedent. And so everything he says is very, very basic. And what we’re going over here is the beautiful, marvelous, eternal story of Christ and the provision of His salvation for us in His death and resurrection.
And we trust that God will enrich your heart even though much of it is familiar to many of you and to others of you who maybe are not quite so familiar with it, that it might come as a moving power in your life to bring you to Jesus Christ. But all of us certainly need to know how better to communicate Jesus Christ, and we need to know how to understand this Scripture which God has given to us.
So as we come to Peter’s sermon, and we’re taking it in many parts, we come this morning to that part of the sermon which is the main theme stretching from verses 22 to 36, and within the context of that, majoring particularly on verses 30 - pardon me, verses 24 and following, dealing with the resurrection and the ascension of Christ.
Now, the resurrection of Jesus Christ as well known to all of us is the cornerstone of Christianity. It is mentioned at least 104 times in the New Testament. It is without question the most profound and prominent point in biblical history and in all redemptive history. When the apostolic company, for example, after the apostasy and suicide of Judas, met together for the purpose of selecting one to complete their number again to twelve, in the process of their selection, the statement was made that the reason for which one was to be chosen was that he might be a witness with us of the resurrection.
That become the very chief thing, the great issue in the proclamation of Jesus Christ, that He was alive, for that’s what sets Him apart from every other religious leader who ever existed. He came out of the grave alive. The crucifixion loses its meaning without the resurrection, as we well know. The resurrection becomes in Scripture the crowning proof not only of Jesus’ deity but the guarantee of our own resurrection. And if you remove the resurrection, then the death of Christ is the heroic death of a noble martyr or it’s the pathetic death of a deranged mad man or it’s the execution of a fraud, and it can’t be anything more without the resurrection.
And so we would conclude, then, it’s not primarily His teaching, it’s not primarily His miracles, it’s not even primarily His dying that is the key, it is primarily His rising again. Unless Jesus Christ had risen, there would be no church. At the death of Christ, the disciples were scattered like chaff in the breeze. They were regathered when He arose from the grave and the church was born, and this became the cornerstone of all great apostolic preaching, and it’s still the life blood of Christianity.
When the Jews, for example, in Acts 26 caught Paul in the temple and attempted to kill him, the Bible says that he received help from God and preached unto them resurrection. In Acts 17, when Paul was preaching to the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill, the subject of his sermon was the resurrection. When the disciples and apostles were filled with the Spirit of God some days after Pentecost, the Bible says that with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And the resurrection was the key to Peter’s great sermon. He spends one verse, verse 22, on the life of Christ. One verse, verse 23, on the death of Christ, and then he spends from verses 24 to 32 on the resurrection. This takes the overwhelming portion of his sermon.
Now, we’ve already begun to study Peter’s sermon, and we’re studying it rather slowly because we want to get everything out of it that’s there because it sets so many precedents for us in terms of ministry, terms of preaching patterns. We’ve learned to begin with that the Spirit of God set the stage for this sermon, did we not? That all of the events of the day of Pentecost were one great big living illustration to grab everybody’s attention. It was Pentecost, 50 days after Passover, the city was jammed with hundreds of thousands of Jews, both those who lived there and those who were pilgrims from other lands. They were there to celebrate the feast. The Spirit of God came with a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and that sound gathered all of these people together.
The Spirit of God baptized the believers into the body of Christ, indwelt every one of them, and then filled them with power. They spoke the wonderful works of God in languages they did not know. And the people were brought together and confounded by all of this, and they heard them speak the wonderful works of God, their own God, Jehovah God. And they were confused because they believed that these people were followers of one who was a blasphemer. And they believed they were satanic, but they couldn’t figure out if they were satanic why they were announcing the wonderful works of God. And it is at that point, with the Holy Spirit having provided the living illustration, that Peter stands up in verse 14 and begins to preach.
And the first of his - at the first of his sermon is his introduction, and in his introduction, he explains Pentecost. He shows them what’s been going on and in effect he says, “What you have seen is the sign that the age of Messiah has begun.” And he says simply in verse 17, “It shall come to pass in the last days,” quoting out of Joel, “saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit.” And what Peter is saying is, “What you’ve just seen is the beginning outpouring of the Spirit of God announcing the birth of the Messianic Age. It is the last days.”
Do you know that the Jewish last days have now been going on for 2,000 years? The whole age of Messiah is called the last days. And we saw that in the Old Testament, they saw no parenthesis, no church age in the middle, they just saw the coming of Messiah and the kingdom, and once Messiah came, the last days had begun.
And so Peter says it’s the beginning of the last days. This was what we call the prefillment of what will be ultimately fulfilled in the tribulation in the kingdom when all of the prophecy running clear down through verse 20 will be fulfilled. All those wonderful signs that we saw in the earth and in the heavens and the miracles indicated in verses 17 and 18. And so he’s saying, “You’ve seen the beginning. You’ve gotten the beginning taste of Messianic times. Messiah has arrived.” And he says, “In view of that fact,” verse 21, “it’s time to call upon Him and get saved.” The word “saved” has to do with deliverance. Deliverance implies judgment, that you need to be delivered from. And so what he’s saying is you know it’s Messiah’s time, you know it’s the last days, and you know the last days is always connected with judgment, so you better get it right with God so you’ll be delivered from judgment. That’s, in effect, what he’s saying.
And so Peter begins in his introduction by explaining that Pentecost is proof positive that the Spirit of God is poured out, which means the Messianic Age has come. The Messiah for which the Jews had prayed and longed for for years and for centuries has arrived. Now, if there is a Messiah or if there is a Messianic Age, there’s got to be a Messiah, right? And that’s exactly what Peter wants them to know. And so now he says, “Now that I have explained that it is the Messianic time, let me tell you who the Messiah is.” And he moves from his introduction to his second point, the theme, the main body of his sermon. And in his theme, he spends his time exalting Jesus.
His introduction, explaining Pentecost; his theme, exalting Jesus, and he announces to them the astounding, overwhelming fact that the Jesus of Nazareth whom they had despised and mocked and looked down on is none other than God’s chosen and approved and accredited Messiah. And this stands not only, my dear friends, as a point of information, but as a fantastic indictment for they had crucified their own Messiah, using the hands of the Romans.
All right, let’s look for a moment, just reviewing the theme, at how it is that Peter presents the facts that Jesus is Messiah. First of all, he begins with Jesus’ life in verse 22. “Ye men of Israel, hear these words. Jesus of Nazareth” - and he uses their kind of derisive term for Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth, “a man approved” - or proclaimed, proven, openly declared - “by God among you by miracles, wonders, and signs.”
Remember we told you the difference? A miracle is a mighty deed, the wonder has to do with the effect that it had, and the sign has to do with its intention. Jesus did mighty deeds which produced wondrous effects for the purpose of acting as a sign pointing to a spiritual truth. Signs always point somewhere, don’t they? And Jesus’ miracles were never ends in themselves, they were to create wonderment that men might turn to look at spiritual truth. “And so God, through Jesus, approved His Messianic character, accredited Christ as the Messiah by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did by Him in the midst of you as ye yourselves also know.”
And he even indicts them because they knew. You remember Nicodemus, who came from the Sanhedrin in John 3, said to Jesus, “We know that no man can do the things you do except” - what? - “God be with him.” They knew that he was doing things that were divine. Even Caiaphas and his cohorts admitted that He was doing miracles, that’s what upset them so much. There was no question about the miraculous nature. Many of the people had even eaten the things that He’d produced out of His own hands. They had seen Him heal time and time again. And so God had accredited Jesus Christ in the view of the whole world and established the fact by the very miracles that He did that He was none other than Messiah. The life of Jesus was living proof and living proclamation by God Himself that Jesus was Messiah, the Lord.
Then secondly - and we’re still reviewing - verse 23, Peter talks about His death as being another verification of His Messiahship. It says in verse 23, “Him” - that is referring to Jesus of Nazareth - “being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken Him by wicked hands, have crucified and slain.” In other words, what we saw from this is - and here you have the two sides to the divine paradox, absolute sovereignty and human responsibility - they had by their own act of will, their own evil natures, crucified Jesus Christ using the Roman hands to do it.
But they had not done this as a shock to Jesus. He was no victim. It had all been planned by - watch it - the determinate counsel and foreknowledge, which means foreordination (we saw that last time) of God.
Now, we studied in John 19 the crucifixion. Do you remember? That’s a wonderful passage. You really ought to study that one and be familiar with it. Do you remember that every single thing that occurred on the cross was a fulfillment of the Old Testament? When Jesus died, He was not a victim, He was fulfilling to the very letter every single detail of Old Testament prophecy. God had in His own counsel preplanned this thing all the way down the line. And so he says not only does the life of Jesus Christ accredit Him as Messiah, but so does His death.
You study any passage of the Old Testament that speaks of Messiah and you’ll find it fulfilled in Jesus Christ. You study from the beginning of His death every single little event until the time that He died on the cross, and you’ll find that every single one of them is fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy to the very letter. Both verbally predictive and typically predictive prophecies.
And so it is the determinate counsel and foreordination of God that made it happen. And yet that doesn’t take away from the guilt of those who killed Him for they did it by their own will. So Jesus is seen to be Messiah by the life that He lived as God did miracles through Him. He is seen to be Messiah by the death that He died, how that God was accrediting Him by Him fulfilling everything in the counsel of God to the very letter. This had to be the Messiah - had to be.
Thirdly, and we come for our major study this morning to this point. Peter says “He is accredited by God through the resurrection.” And this begins in verse 24. If Messiah’s sufferings were ordained by the foreordination of God, so was His resurrection - watch verse 24 - “whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” Now here, we have God again getting involved. It’s God who did the miracles. It’s God who set the plan in order in verse 23. It’s God who raises Him up in verse 24, and this gets repeated several times down here. It’s God in verse 33 who exalts Him. It’s God in verse 36 who declares that that He’s Lord and Christ. It’s God doing the whole thing.
Jesus never came on a humanitarian mission. He never functioned out of His own desires and His own designs. He was on a divine schedule preplanned by the God of the universe and God Himself was activating the plan through Jesus Christ. And so we see that it begins “whom God hath raised up.” Now, this introduces the resurrection. Jesus was dead, but God raised Him up. The greatest accreditation of Jesus as Lord and Messiah is, in fact, His resurrection. And this became the major theme of apostolic preaching.
Now, all through - and I want you to catch this point, it’s very important. All through this particular sermon, there is a dichotomy implied between Jews - or I should say between the Jews as they thought they were and the Jews as they really were because they constantly felt that they were plugged into God and Peter constantly shows them they were not. Now watch the - catch this thought here - and, unfortunately, there’s a division between verses 23 and 24 when the flow really gives you this dichotomy. Watch this, the end of verse 23. “Ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain whom God hath raised up.”
Now do you see a little bit of contrast? “You killed Him, God raised Him.” Now, this becomes a - kind of a recurrent theme throughout all the apostolic preaching in the book of Acts. For example, in chapter 3, Peter’s preaching again. Verse 14, “But you denied the Holy One and the Just and desired a murderer to be granted unto you” - now watch, here it comes again, “and killed the Prince of Life whom God hath raised from the dead.” You see? He sets the Jews at opposite ends of the world from God.
This is a very important point. In any kind of evangelism, in any kind of commitment to a real presentation of the gospel, we must begin by setting men at the other end of the world from God. They must know they are rebels against God. Nicodemus came to Jesus and he was a pretty good guy. If anybody was a goody good-good, he was. I mean, he’d made it all the way on self-righteousness to the place of prominence in the Sanhedrin. He may have been the number one teacher in Israel. Now, you might have expected Jesus to say, “Well, Nicodemus, you’re pretty sharp. I mean you’re moral and you do a lot of wonderful things. If you just did one little thing, you’d be all right.” And Jesus says, “Nicodemus, you know what your problem is? You’re you. Just go back and get born all over again.”
In other words, “You’ve got to realize, Nicodemus, you’re at the other end of the pole from God. And the further you go in self-righteousness, the further you go the other direction.” And so what Peter does here, really, is separate totally these Jews from God. “You killed Him, God raised Him.” Do you see?
Now, this occurs again in chapter 10 and in this case, dealing with gentiles, 10:39, “And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they slew and hanged on a tree Him God raised up.” You see? There’s that same dichotomy again.
And over in chapter 13, verse 29, I like the same thing here. “And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree and laid Him in a sepulcher, but God raised Him from the dead.” You see, there’s that same disparity. “You killed Him, God raised Him.” Now, that is to show them that they are at the other end of everything from God because the Jew always prided himself on his proximity to God. And he always rested (Romans 2) in the knowledge of the will of God, see?
In Romans chapter 2, I’m going to read you a couple of verses there. Verse 17: “But if thou art called a Jew” - and here’s a classic definition of the religious Jew - “if thou art called a Jew,” here’s what you’ll do: “restest in the law.” That was characteristic of a Jew, that he made his boast in the law. Not the keeping of it, but the possession of it. Do you see?
That’d be like you driving in a 35-mile zone going 110. I mean really just ripping through. See? And some policeman’s able to catch you and he pulls you over. And he says, “Man,” he says, “you are really in trouble. Get out of the car.” And you say, “I’m sorry, officer, you can’t give me a ticket.” “Why?” “Well, because I have right on the car seat right beside me the vehicle code. I’ve got it.” He’s going to say, “Well, what does that have to do with anything? You’ve got it, you’re doubly responsible.” The Jew kept going, “Well, I’m okay, I have the law. Never kept it, but I have it.” You see, the Jew made his boast in possession, not in obedience, and it was empty. It was empty.
I can’t fault their zeal, for they were zealous, but they were zealous in their own self-righteousness in the possession of the law and in circumcision, not in obedience. And then watch this in verse 17, “And makest thy boast of God,” verse 18, “and knowest His will.” The Jew always thought that he knew God and knew God’s will. And Peter starts out by driving a gigantic wedge between the Jew and God and saying, “You don’t God and you don’t know God’s will at all.” “Whom you killed” - God what? - “God raised.” “You don’t even know where you are. And don’t you see this is where every man must begin? He must begin by realizing he is absolutely separated from the mind and the will of God.” Only in Jesus Christ can a man be reconciled to God.
Now let me show you how Jesus brought this to the attention of the Jews in John chapter 8 in a very familiar passage and one that gives us good illustration for this. John 8, Jesus was in a dialogue with the Pharisees, the religious leaders, commonly in the gospel of John termed “Jews.” That seems to be a title John reserves as opposed to “the people,” which means just the general populace. The term “Jew” is referring primarily to the leaders. In verse 37, He’s having a little debate about the fact that they really don’t know the truth and they aren’t free and they’re saying they are free, et cetera. Verse 37, “I know that you’re Abraham’s seed,” physically they were of the seed of Abraham, “but you seek to kill me because my word hath no place in you. But I speak that which I’ve seen with my Father.”
In other words, “You say you’re Abraham’s seed” - and they not only meant it physically but spiritually, they were - they believed they were his seed by faith, too. And He said, “What’s strange is you claim to be Abraham’s seed, but you want to kill me. That’s a little incongruous.” He says, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father” - and then watch this shot - “and ye do that which you have seen with your father.” Now, there’s the dichotomy, right there. It hits them. He’s saying, “We’ve got different fathers.” Then answered - they answered in verse 39 and said unto Him, “Abraham is our father.”
Jesus said unto them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.” “You sure don’t act like Abraham.” “But now you seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God. This did not Abraham.” Abraham didn’t go to kill people who told the truth from God. If you’re Abraham’s children, it’s not obvious on the surface. Then He says, verse 41, “Ye do the deeds of your father.” And then this reply, “Then said they to Him, we are not born of fornication. We have one Father, even God.”
Jesus said unto them, “If God were your Father, you’d love me for I proceeded forth and came from God. Neither came I of myself but He sent me.” In other words, Jesus says, “Boy if you really knew God, you’d know me right off the bat.” Right? They couldn’t miss Him. If they knew God, here He was. There wouldn’t be any problem of recognition, none at all. Verse 44, “Ye are of your father” - who? - “the devil.” Verse 47, “He that is of God hears God’s words. Ye therefore hear them not because ye are not of God.” And then they really got upset. They started calling Him names.
You see, Jesus drove a wedge right between God and these people because they had to know that they were at the other end from the will of God. And they were religious and they read the Old Testament and they took care of all the little nitty-gritty rules of the law, but they were a million miles from God. That’s where it had to begin. That’s where Peter had to begin. But their claim, and look at in verse 41, it’s kind of an interesting claim. They said to Jesus, “We are not born of fornication.”
Some writers think that that’s a slam at Jesus because at the early church, the early disciples of Jesus proclaimed that He was born of a virgin, but the Jews had a kind of a tradition going around that Jesus had been conceived by a Roman soldier by the name of Panthera who got Mary pregnant when Mary was unfaithful to Joseph, and that Jesus was born of a union between Mary and a Roman soldier who slept with her.
And this was the accusation thrown at Jesus. And some say that that’s what they’re saying that they’re making a nasty crack about Jesus. “At least we’re not bastard children.” But better than that - that may be true, but I’m not sure it is. Better than that, I’m sure of one thing that can be applied here. In the Old Testament, one of the loveliest descriptions of the nation of Israel was that which saw Israel as a bride. You know that one? That’s illustrated in the book of Hosea. You remember the story Hosea? Hosea married a wife and she turned out to be a prostitute. You remember her name was Gomer? I’ve always felt that anybody who’d marry a girl named Gomer was asking for trouble.
But anyway, he married Gomer and he loved Gomer and he betrothed Gomer as his wife, and then Gomer was unfaithful and became a prostitute and God said, “That’s how it is between myself and Israel. I married Israel as a chaste bride and Israel went a-whoring after other gods.” Now, when Israel went after other gods, she was said to “go a-whoring” and the apostate Jews are described in Hosea, I think it’s chapter 2, verse 4, as “children of whoredoms.” In other words, the apostate Jews were the offspring of the false union between Israel and false gods.
So when the Jews here said to Jesus, “We are not the children of any adulterous union,” they mean that “We have maintained our worship of the true God. We have never gone into idolatry,” you see? “We are not idolatrous children. We are not the children of spiritual adultery. We have always worshiped the true God.” Now, that shows you how locked into their era they were. They did not worship the true God. They didn’t know the true God. They were of their father, the devil. But because they had the system, they thought they had the reality.
Oh, is that dangerous. Oh, so many people have a form of godliness, but no what? Power. They have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge, and so they claim that they had never gone astray, they had always worshipped the true God. A claim that is so sickening with self-righteousness it’s almost unreal. And it was in the same self-righteous so-called worship of God that they sought the death of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. So as always, they claimed to love God and yet hated Jesus and Jesus says, “No.” You see, Jesus, before He could ever regather Israel into His arms, had to tell them where they really were at. And that’s what Peter has to do back in Acts 2.
Before Peter can ever talk to them about where they need to be, he’s got to show them where they are. And just in that subtle little statement that carries itself through Acts, “You have killed Him, God has raised Him,” is implied that constant dichotomy. And that constant issue that every man on the face of the earth must face, that he is a rebel against God. And I love the statement, “God hath raised Him up.” That almost becomes a title for God in Romans 4:24 when Paul talks about God, he gives God a name. He says, God - he just talks about God with a name, “Him that raised up Jesus.” That almost becomes the proper name for God, “Him that raised up Jesus.”
Now notice in verse 24 that it says - and we’ll move a little faster now - maybe - “Whom God hath raised up having loosed the pains of death.” God loosed the pains of death. That’s a tremendous statement. Now, the word “pains” is the key word to understanding that phrase. It’s the word birth pangs. It has to do with the cramps and the pains that a woman has prior to giving birth to a child, and it’s a significant word because it’s a word that means that the pain is temporary and it issues in something glorious or something further. And here, when Jesus died, that was only a little temporary birth pang which would issue in the glorious resurrection. Do you see?
Now, this word is used a few places in the New Testament in significant ways. In Matthew 24:8, Jesus, all of that discourse, Jesus said, “There will be wars and rumors of wars.” Then He said, “Nation will rise against nation,” verse 8. Then He said, “There will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes.” And He said when you see all that, that is only the beginning of sorrows. And the word there is that is only the birth pangs of sorrows. You haven’t seen anything yet.
Now, there’s something else about this word that’s kind of significant. Whatever is born is something which has never been seen before, right? And there had never been a resurrection like Jesus’. He was the first what? Fruits. And so the birth pangs were to issue in a new kind of life, which was then given to everyone after Jesus Christ in His church in a glorious new birth in resurrection promise. The pangs that we see in Matthew 24 as we see wars and rumors of wars and all these things are finally going to give birth to the horror of the end of the great tribulation, and that’s such evil as has also never been seen in the history of the world. So the Word speaks of something that is not before ever known.
So Jesus Christ suffered a few birth pangs that He might bring forth resurrection life for all who believe in Him. What a fantastic truth. And so as Christians, we don’t fear death. We don’t fear death any more than a mother in the thrill and the anticipation of knowing that she’s going to bring forth a new life. Fear is the pain that precedes it. That’s incidental to the joy.
And so it is that we may look forward to death, and we may say, “Well, it might hurt a little bit. I mean I might die slowly and it might be a little bit painful, but it’s only birth pangs that are going to issue in a glorious resurrection life.” That’s our hope, isn’t it? We have a guarantee in 1 Corinthians 6, isn’t it verse 14? Where the Apostle Paul, speaking of this - yes, says, “And God hath both raised up the Lord and will also raise up us by His own power.” Do you know that the guarantee of your resurrection is just as secure as the guarantee was of Christ’s? Same power. So we have no fear.
All right, God raised Him up, He freed Him from the birth pangs of death, which issued in resurrection life. Then this tremendous statement because - here’s a simple - because it wasn’t possible that He should be held by it. There was no way death could hold Jesus Christ. Impossible. You say, “Why?” Number one, He was too powerful. Divine power. Death could not handle Jesus. Hebrews 2:14 said that “Jesus became a man, became made of flesh, that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, even the devil.” Hebrews 2:14.
Jesus had too much power. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and” what? “And the life.” He not only gave life, He was life, and death couldn’t hold Him - no way. He shattered the chains of death and came out of that grave. He had too much power. Secondly, not only divine power made it impossible but divine promise. In John chapter 2, Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days, I’ll raise it up.” And they all looked at the temple and thought, “Good - how will He ever do that?” They were thinking He was talking about the big stone temple. And the next verse says, “But He spake to them concerning His own body.” Jesus said, “You destroy it, and I’ll raise it up.” Divine promise made the resurrection necessary.
And in Luke 24, when He was talking to the disciples after His resurrection, it says in verse 44, “He said unto them, ‘These are the words which I spoke unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses and the prophets, the psalms concerning me.” Those are three Old Testament divisions. Verse 45, “Then opened He their understanding, they might understand the Scriptures.” The Old Testament. “He said unto them, ‘Thus it is written from the Old Testament and thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day.’” Did you know that even the third-day resurrection was prophesied in the Old Testament in the feast of first fruits? Every detail.
And so divine power and divine promise made it necessary for Jesus to rise, and death couldn’t handle Him. Third thing, divine purpose. God had designed to call a people to Himself. And in order for those people to come to Him, they had to go through death and out the other side, and Jesus had to make the way. “Because I live” - what? - “ye shall live also.” So divine purpose as well.
Now, God raised Him, death could not handle Him. You think could handle God? No way. That’s a wonderful promise for us, isn’t it? Do we have to fear death? What does Paul say? “Oh, death, where is thy victory?” He mocks death. “Where is your sting?” See? He’s mocking it at the end of 1 Corinthians 15. The whole language is sarcastic. “Take that, death.” See? He’s laughing and scorning death. And we can because Jesus Christ knows the way through.
Now, to confirm the resurrection as God’s plan for the Messiah, Peter very, very carefully takes an Old Testament text, Psalm 16, verses 8 to 11, and quotes it and then applies it. And this is a masterpiece. Watch this, verse 25. Now he’s going to quote the Old Testament, Psalm 16. “For David” - and, of course, just whammo, he grabs, you know, one of the great lights in Jewish history whom they all love and adore. “For David speaketh concerning Him.” David spoke about Messiah. David - do you mean to tell me David spoke about Jesus of Nazareth? Boy, that’s new stuff. They believed Jesus of Nazareth to be a blasphemer. This is the same Jesus who did miracles, verse 23, who died according to the plan of God, verse 24, who raised - who was raised according to the power of God and the one that David spoke about. You say David spoke about Him? Sure, Psalm 16, and he goes right off to quote it. “I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is on my right hand that I should not be moved. Therefore did my heart rejoice and my tongue was glad. Moreover my flesh also shall rest in hope. Because Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades, neither wilt Thou allow Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the path to life. Thou shalt make me full of joy with Thy countenance.”
Now, here you have one of the interesting phenomenons in prophecy. Frequently, the prophet speaking in the first person is really the voice of Messiah. Now, as you study the Psalms, you’ll find this again and again. For example, in Psalm 22, David says, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me,” but whose words were those really? They were the words of Jesus Christ on the cross. Very often it is prophetic pattern to put in the first person the words of the Messiah right in the mouth of the prophet. You find it even later on in Psalm 22 and you find it elsewhere as well.
And so here David is speaking, but it is really the Messiah speaking. And David was prophesying the words of Messiah regarding His trust in God as He looked to the cross. Now look at verse 25. “I foresaw the Lord always before my face.” Here Jesus is simply saying, “I just kept my eyes on God.” That’s what it says. “I kept my eyes on God. I was continually seeing before my face the Lord.” You see, that’s - that’s the whole key. Jesus never had any problem with anything He did because His focus was in the right place. You know the thing that really fouls up Christians is that they get their attention off the Lord and they start looking at everything else.
I always remember the story I read about the preacher who wanted to train his dog, and so he would try to train his dog to be obedient. He threw a piece of meat on the floor and the dog would run over and gobble it up, and he’d take a big stick and smash the dog. And the next day he throws some more meat and the dog would run over and eat the meat and he’d smash him again. Well, pretty soon the dog got the message, eat meat, get smashed, you know, it didn’t take too long. And then the dog didn’t do it anymore and the preacher begin to notice that the reason was that whenever you throw the meat there, the dog would never watch the meat, the dog would never take his eyes off the master. And as long as his eyes were on the master, he had no problem with the meat. As soon as he started looking over there, he got fouled up. The temptation was strong and the same thing true in the Christian life. If you go through life looking at all the goodies, you’re going to get into problems.
Jesus Christ always knew where the focus was to be and He set His face toward God and He never moved it. And Jesus is talking here, the Messiah, prophetically through the mouth of David is saying, “I just kept my gaze on God and God’s plan.” And whatever came just came, even in death. And then he says at the end of verse 25, “For He is on my right hand that I should not be moved.” Isn’t that good? The right hand was the sign of protection in a marriage. Traditionally, the bridegroom stands on the right hand as the protector of the bride. A bodyguard stands at the right side protecting with his shield, you see. Over here he holds his shield against the one he’s protecting and he fights with his right arm. The right side was protection. So Jesus simply says, “I have nothing to fear. I go willingly to the cross because God is my protector, I trust Him.”
And verse 26, “Therefore did my heart rejoice and my tongue was glad.” You say, “You mean He was happy about the cross?” Hebrews 12:2 says that He went to the cross for the joy that was set before Him. Sure. Oh, He wasn’t glad for the pain, He was glad for the results, and He kept His eyes on the joy that came past the pain. And so Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is saying, “Therefore did my heart rejoice, my tongue was glad.” And then here comes the indication of resurrection. “Moreover my flesh also shall rest in hope.” The literal Greek translation of that is this: “My body shall pitch its tent on the ground called hope.”
In other words, “I trust God. I don’t have anything to fear. I can go right into death and I can just believe God to come right out the other side.” That’s what He means in verse 27 when He says, “Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hades. Neither wilt thou allow thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the path to life.” “I don’t fear anything; I trust.” Now, you see, this is the words in the mouth of David, and Jesus is really speaking. They are really Messianic prophecy. And He’s saying, “My body will I commit to the grave with a confident expectation that it will be raised to life again.” We have that same confidence. Isn’t that fantastic? We have the same God with the same power who’s going to give us the same resurrection. And when we rise from the dead, we’ll be with Him and we’ll be like Him.
Verse 27, “Thou wilt not leave,” and the word “leave” is “abandon.” “Thou wilt not abandon my soul in Hades.” Now, that can’t be true of David because David was in Hades. “Thou wilt not allow thine Holy One to see corruption.” David’s body, did it see corruption? Sure, it did. Sure, it did. So we say, then, he can’t be talking about David, he must be talking about somebody else. Verse 28, “Thou hast made known to me the ways of life.” That means make known the path to life, resurrection, “I’m going to rise.” You say David is standing there saying I’m not going to be corrupted, I’m going to rise. And when I’m done rising, verse 28, thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. I’m going right to that grave, out the other side and right into your presence and I’m going to look you face to face, God.
You say, “Poor David, he was really disappointed. His body went in there and it’s still there. David blew it.” No, because David wasn’t talking about David, see? That’s the whole point. And that’s what Peter says. Watch it in verse 29 - oh, this is good. “Men and brethren,” that covers it, “let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both” - what? - “dead and buried.” Poor David. He didn’t get it. And his sepulcher is with us unto this day, and the old indications in the time of Peter and some historic notes tell us that there were two very famous tombs at that time in Jerusalem, the tomb of David and the tomb of Huldah, the prophetess, and everybody knew about it. And no Jew had ever taught that David rose from the dead.
It was a very sacred place to go to worship, at the place where David was buried. And so Peter simply says, “Boys, David didn’t make it. He did not come out of the grave and he is dead and he is seeing corruption physically.” David did not fulfill that prophecy. You say, “What does it mean?” Look at verse 30. “But therefore, being a” - what? Oho, David was speaking prophetically, wasn’t he? David was a prophet. He, being a prophet and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up the Messiah to sit on His thrown. He, seeing this before, spoke of the resurrection - what? - of Christ. Do you see? David was prophesying.
Now, David had received a promise from God and that was a wonderful promise. That promise is recorded for us in 2 Samuel, and don’t turn to it, because I don’t want to take the time, but I just want to read you just a passage in 2 Samuel 7, which gives the promise. Now, David had wanted to build a temple to the Lord. He looked at his own house and said, “Boy, I’ve got a - really a sharp place here and it’s made out of cedars,” and you know how cedars smell and - oh, man, it was beautiful and the Lord’s living in a tent and that’s not right.
So David said to Nathan one night, “Nathan, I’m going to build a house for the Lord,” and Nathan said, “Boy, David, that’s terrific. Go ahead.” And God grabbed Nathan in the middle of the night and said, “Nathan, you’re supposed to be my prophet. What’s the idea of telling David to do that when he didn’t even ask me?” So He says, “You go tell David there’s no way he’s going to build my house. He’s a man of blood. His son Solomon will do it.”
But whenever the Lord doesn’t let you do something, He gives you something greater, and so in view of that, God gives David this fantastic promise in chapter 7, verse 11. “And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over people Israel and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies, also the Lord telleth me that He will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers and I will set up thy seed after thee which shall proceed out of thine own body, I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
Now, who do you think that is? Verse 16, “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee. Thy throne shall be established forever.” There’s coming an eternal king from the loins of David. The word “Messiah” means what? Anointed king. And God promised to David an anointed king who would have an eternal kingdom. And so what is Peter saying here? He’s saying - watch it, verse 30, David was a prophet. He knew God had sworn with an oath to him that out of his own loins according to the flesh, he would raise up this anointed - and the word “Christ” means anointed, it’s the same word as Messiah, to sit on his throne, on David’s throne.
So what’s Peter saying? Peter’s saying David was prophesying regarding Messiah when he’s talking about resurrection. David wasn’t saying this of himself, he was speaking of Messiah that he knew God had promised. Verse 31, He seeing this before. You want a good definition of predictive prophesy? There it is. He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, Messiah, that His soul - that is, Messiah’s soul - was not left in Hades, neither did His flesh see corruption. Oh, is this a masterpiece of expository preaching on the part of Peter. He takes that text and applies it perfectly to Messiah.
Look at his argument. Let me give it to you real quick. You ready? Point one, Psalm 16 refers to the resurrection of somebody, right? Has to, it’s what it’s talking about. Psalm 16 refers to the resurrection of somebody. David doesn’t qualify, true? Point number three, David knew the promise of God regarding a Messiah. Therefore, point number four, the Psalm refers to Messiah. Number five, Messiah will be one who rises from the dead. Oh, was he building his case. Now watch verse 32. This Jesus hath God - what? - raised up. Oh, is that - oh, can you imagine? That is powerful.
He’s been sneaking up on them and now he lets them have both barrels. He takes that passage and unfolds it and says, “Here He is. You’re looking for a Messiah? For this the Messianic Age? This Messiah better be one who rose from the dead.” “This Jesus hath God raised.” Is that powerful?
That’s the clincher in verse 32. Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah and then he says “whereof we all are witnesses.” All of us knew this Jesus. And especially the apostles and the 500 who saw Him after His resurrection. So Jesus is exalted to be Messiah, not only by His life and death, but by His resurrection. Then Peter closes his theme by showing how Jesus is exalted to be Messiah through His ascension.
Look at verse 33. “Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He hath shed forth this which you now see and hear.” This just wraps it up. Boy, it’s a masterpiece. Peter says, “Now back to what I told you at the beginning, what you’ve just seen happened because God promised the Messiah that He would send the Spirit. Messiah accomplished His work. God exalted Him and sent the Spirit as He promised He would, and that’s what you’ve seen today, people.”
Boy, do you see Peter just tied this thing into one big Messianic ball? Just pulls the whole thing together. “Therefore, being by the right hand of God exalted.” This Jesus was lifted up to sit at the Father’s right hand. And He received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit and He shed forth this which you now see and hear. What they had been beholding was God sending the Spirit as He had promised to send the Spirit in the Messianic Age. And we’re right back to Pentecost again. The exalted Messiah has sent the Holy Spirit. The prophecy of the Old Testament is beginning to be fulfilled. It is the last days, it is Messiah’s time, and it is time for salvation.
Then Peter quotes another Davidic Psalm to prove Jesus is Messiah by His ascension in verse 34. For David is not ascended into the heavens. But He saith Himself, the Lord said unto my Lord, sit Thou on My right hand. Now, when David said that, he wasn’t talking about himself. Couldn’t have been because David didn’t ascend into the heavens, did he? He went into the grave. So the ascension, the promise sit Thou on my right hand, whoever God gave that to, it wasn’t to David, right? At no time did God say to David sit at my right hand, it must be somebody else. Well, it is this Jesus whom God hath exalted and is seated now at His right hand. And then in verse 35, “Until I make thy foes thy footstool,” and all of that’s out of Psalm 110:1.
God said to somebody, “I’m going to sit you at my right hand, and I’m going to have you put your heel on the neck of your enemies.” You can read about that in Joshua 10:24 and 25, what that means, it just means subjection. But God said to somebody through David, “I’m going to lift you to my right hand and put your enemies under you.” Well, it couldn’t have been David. It must, again, have been a reference to Messiah, and indeed Jesus fulfills that for He went right from the earth and we saw Him go, and He entered into God’s presence and is seated at the right hand of God.
And someday all of His enemies will be made subject. And at that time, every knee shall bow before Him. And so because of His life, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension, He is accredited to be the Messiah, and Peter comes to an overwhelming climax in verse 36, and listen to what he says.
“Therefore, on the basis of everything that I have said, let all the house of Israel know assuredly” - that word’s reserved for twice in the New Testament, it means absolutely with perfect certainty and no doubts. “Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ.” Do you see how far off they were from God? Whom they killed, God declared to be Messiah. Now, that’s the climax. His Messiahship is brought into focus by His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. He is Messiah. He is Lord. He is God and He is King.
Do you notice that all through this, it is God who’s been doing the declaring? It is God who did the works in His life, verse 22. It is God who determined the counsel that brought His death, verse 23. It is God who raised Him up, verse 24. It is God who exalted Him, verse 33. And it is God who declares Him to be Messiah and Lord. This is the work of God and He’s saying that to show them that they are so far from God. And the reaction was unbelievable. Verse 37, “When they heard this, they were pricked in their heart and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’”
“What shall we do?” The question is the same question that Pilate asked himself and the people about Him. “What shall I do then with Jesus who is called the Christ?” You say, “What are the options?” Listen as I read Acts 17:31. “God hath commanded all men everywhere to repent because He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained.” That’s Christ. “Concerning which He hath given assurance unto all men and that He hath raised Him from the dead.” The evidence is in, Jesus is God’s man.
Listen. “And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked.” That’s the first thing you can do. You can laugh at all of this. You can mock at Jesus. Assign it to some kind of ridiculous philosophy. Secondly, others said we will hear again of this matter. You can postpone it and do nothing, neglect it. Nevertheless, certain men joined him and believed. Or you can believe. Let’s pray.
Father, we thank you this morning for the secure evidence that Jesus is who He claimed to be. We thank you that our faith is based on reason and fact, Father, that we take no intellectual back seat, we take no historical back seat, but that we can know the accuracy of the revelation of God historically and intellectually as well as spiritually and through revelation. We thank you that the facts are there, that Jesus filled every prophecy, every requirement for the anointed promised One.
Oh, God, we pray this morning that if there are some here who are mocking or who are putting off and postponing that they may this day believe. To your glory, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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