Turn in your Bibles to the 13th chapter of Acts, and just hold there for a moment as we look at an introduction to set our sights on what it is that God would say to us this morning. The Bible is the record of Jesus Christ. It is God presenting Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, the Savior of the world. And whether you’re talking about the Old Testament or the New Testament, they are both equally concerned with presenting Jesus Christ. The Old Testament presents the Christ who will come; the New Testament presents the Christ who did come. Jesus Christ himself, for example, said that he was the subject of the Old Testament when he said this: “In the volume of the book it is written of me.” Christ’s portrait in the Old Testament looks forward. Christ’s portrait in the New Testament looks backward, but it all focuses on Jesus Christ. And so both the Old Testament and the New Testament reveal the divine sovereign hand of God as the master artist painting a portrait of Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament, God keeps promising a Deliverer, a Savior, a King, a Messiah. And in the New Testament, Jesus of Nazareth fulfills every single prophesy that God ever made of a Messiah. And the ones that are yet to be fulfilled by him will be fulfilled in his second coming, which we will see tonight. You go back to the very first book in the Bible and you find in Genesis 3:15 that God says, “Through man I will destroy the power of Satan. There will be born one of the seed of the woman.” Now if you know anything about procreation, you know the woman has no seed. There is a prophesy of a virgin-born man and that he would bruise the serpent’s head. This virgin-born man would deal a killing blow to Satan. That was the first Messianic prophesy so beautifully fulfilled in Jesus Christ who was born of a virgin. Isaiah had even said in chapter 7, verse 14, “A virgin shall conceive and bring forth a child,” and it was Immanuel, God with us.
Jesus fulfilled the virgin-born prophesy and he also fulfilled the prophesy of victory over Satan as he won the victory at the cross. And the writer of Hebrews says, “He destroyed the power of the devil in his own death.” And the prophet Isaiah says in chapter 9, verse 6 that this Messiah who comes would be God; he is called the mighty God. In Psalm 2:7, God says, “This is my beloved Son,” and Jesus claimed to be both God and the Spirit of God and he substantiated both claims. The prophet Micah said, “When he comes, he will be born in Bethlehem.” Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Moses told us in the writing of the Pentateuch that the Messiah would be a son of Abraham. Matthew tells us Jesus was a son of Abraham. Later it tells us he would be son of Isaac, that the line would come through Isaac. Luke chapter 3 tells us Jesus came through Isaac, verse 23 and 34. In Numbers 24:17, it says that the Messiah will be a star out of Jacob. In Luke chapter 3, verses 23 and 34 again we find that Jesus comes through Jacob.
In Genesis 49:10, the Bible says that Jesus will come through the Tribe of Judah; the Messiah will be of that line. The book of Revelation calls him the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. And again, in Luke 3:23 and 33, he is from the Tribe of Judah. The Bible says that out of Judah he will come from Jesse. Isaiah chapter 11 and verse 1 and in Luke 3:23 and 32, we find that Jesus came from Jesse. In Jeremiah 23:5, Jeremiah capped it off with these words: “Behold the days are coming when I will raise up for David a righteous branch, and he will reign forever.” And that’s one of many prophesies, including 2 Samuel 7 and Jeremiah 33 that the Messiah would come through the line of David. And the New Testament repeatedly says that Jesus was the Son of David. In Matthew 2:16, he fulfills that prophesy.
In Deuteronomy 18:18, the Word of God came to Moses, “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, like you, Moses, and I will put my words in his mouth.” And God there promised a prophet like Moses, and Jesus came along and the people in Galilee looked at him in John chapter 6, verse 14 and said, “This is that prophet like unto Moses.” In Psalm 110, God said, “Whoever the Messiah is he will be a priest after the order of Melchisidech, a priest not for a time but a priest for,” – what? – “for eternity, forever.” And the book of Hebrews from beginning to end presents conclusively that Jesus was a priest after the order of Melchisidech. Psalm chapter 2 and verse 6 tells us that he will be a king. Second Samuel 7 says he will be a king, and it’s repeat myriad times. And when Jesus arrived, they asked him if he was a king and he said, “Yes.” And when they crucified him, they not knowing what they were doing put over his cross Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews, and some people got mad and they said, “No, put he said he is the king of the Jews.” And Pilate said, “What I have written I have written.” And he was right, he was a king.
In Zechariah 9:9 five centuries before it happened, the prophet said Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on an ass five centuries later on what we know as Palm Sunday. A week before his execution Jesus road into the city to the Hosannas of the people exactly as Zechariah had predicted, Matthew chapter 21, verses 2-7. In Zechariah 11:12, the prophet again predicted that the Messiah would be sold for 30 pieces of silver. In Matthew 26:15, Judah sold him not for 29 and not for 31 but for 30 pieces of silver, five centuries before the prophet had said it. In Zechariah 13:7, the prophet predicted the smiting of the Shephard and the scattering of the sheep. And in Matthew 26:56 when Jesus was taken to be crucified, the Bible says, “And all his disciples forsook him and fled.” The Shephard was smitten and the sheep were scattered.
Isaiah chapter 11, verse 2 tells us the fulness of the Holy Spirit would rest upon him. The sevenfold fullness of the Spirit. And in Matthew 3:16 and 17, when Jesus was being baptized by John, the Bible says, “And the Spirit of God descended upon him like a dove,” fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah. In Isaiah 35, verses 5 and 6, the Bible says, “When Messiah comes, he will give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and voices to the dumb.” And in Matthew chapter 9, verse 35 it says that Jesus went everywhere in all the villages, and he healed all those sick and all those with diseases. And you read the record of the Gospels and exactly as the prophet had said he gives sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and voices to the dumb.
In Psalm 41:9, the prophet indicates that he would be betrayed by his own familiar friend who had eaten bread with him. And in John 13, verses 21-30, Jesus sitting around the table the last night before his death dipped the sop and gave it to the one next to him who was Judas and he ate bread with him, and then he went out into the night and betrayed Jesus fulfilling to the very letter Psalm 41:9. In Zechariah 11:13, the Bible says that the money that was taken would be thrown down and that it would be picked up and used for a potter’s field. In Matthew 27, verses 5-7, Judas threw the money down; the price was taken and purchased a potter’s field, exactly fulfilling Zechariah’s prophesy.
Those are just a few, and all of the details of the life of Jesus Christ just fulfill prophesy after prophesy after prophesy. There’s no way it can be manufactured; it’s a mathematical impossibility. Powerful argument of prophesy sweeps away all doubt that Jesus of Nazareth is not the Messiah, the deliverer of Israel. Now this becomes the secondary theme in Paul’s message, and I say secondary in the order of their appearance, not in the order of their importance. And as Paul is preaching here in the 13th chapter of Acts, he majors in this second area of his message on Jesus the fulfillment of prophesy. Now let me back up and give you a little bit of background. The book of Acts is the record of the growth of the church. The church has exploded in Jerusalem. When it was finished there, the Lord had designed that it would go to Judea and Samaria, which were the neighboring territories. And the church went there and exploded, and people were saved and communities became converted to Christ and established congregations or assemblies of believers. And then once that was done, a beachhead was established in the pagan world, and that beachhead was Antioch of Syria. And a group of believers were established in Antioch of Syria and God had designed that from that little congregation in that famous city missionaries would be sent to reach the uttermost part of the earth.
And so it took a few years until that congregation was strong enough. They had five wonderful leaders. The two key leaders were men named Paul and Barnabas. And God said, “You’ve grown. You’ve established yourselves. You’re the beachhead. Now you’re going to go.” And he said in chapter 13 at the very beginning the Holy Spirit said, “Separate me Barnabas and Paul for the work unto which I have called them.” And he sent Paul and Barnabas out on the first great historical event of the missionary outreach of the church as they went to the pagan world to preach Jesus Christ. And off they went as we’ve seen in our previous study in chapter 13. The first place they came was the hometown of Cyprus, the home island I should say of Barnabas called Cyprus. They preached the gospel from one end of Cyprus to the next. They won a great victory over a demon-possessed sorcerer by the name of Barjesus, or Elymas. They had seen Christ conquer. Then the Spirit of God directed them north. They took a ship from Pathos north. They landed at Pamphylia in Asia Minor, the territory known as Galatia. And the Spirit of God directed them to Antioch of Pisidia, not the same Antioch from which they came.
They arrived in Antioch of Pisidia after a treacherous journey through the torus mountains in which Paul had been very sick. First thing they did according to verse 14, and we pick up the narrative there: “When they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch of Pisidia and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down.” There was a readymade audience in a Jewish synagogue, people who knew the Old Testament. Paul being a Jew and being a rabbi and perhaps even wearing the garb of a rabbi knew that they would recognize him as such, or assume so. There was also the custom that after the preliminaries that made up synagogue activity any invited guest who was of a dignitary category would be invited to speak, and so he knew he might have a tremendous opportunity and so he and Barnabas went there. There was the readymade audience, a great place to begin, and that became their pattern all the way through their missionary journeys, didn’t it? They would go to the Jewish synagogue. I think he went there too because his heart ached for Israel.
And so they were sitting there and verse 15 says, “After the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them saying, ‘Ye, men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.’” The Holy Spirit had set it up, and last week we looked a little bit at the Holy Spirit’s public relations activity, didn’t we, and how the Holy Spirit sets up publicity and gets a promotion going to start what he wants. The Spirit of God had done all the preparation and Paul just stood up to preach. He begins this tremendous sermon in verse 16 with the words, “Men of Israel and ye that fear God, listen.” And there are two kinds of people in the synagogue: Israelites and those that fear God. God fearers, and that’s really a proper term referring to converted gentiles. So he says, “You who are of Israel and you who are God fearers, converted gentiles, listen to what I say.” He’s about to unload a bombshell on them, to put it mildly. But he’s very subtle and he doesn’t get to Jesus Christ until verse 23. And if this sermon is only excerpts of what he really said, it may have been a lot longer than that. And in the sermon, he presents as he always does in all of his life the fact that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth.
Now the sermon falls into three parts. Jesus Christ is presented first as the culmination of history. Secondly as the fulfillment of prophesy. Thirdly as the justifier of sinners. Those three things. Now last week we saw Paul’s first point that Jesus is the culmination of history. The question is often asked where is history going. There is the answer: It’s going towards Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of history. He is the only one that can right the wrongs and reverse the injustices. He is the only one that can remove the curse that separates men from God. He is the only one who can give meaning to life individually and life collectively, which is history. And last week we went into the fact that history is His story. That’s history.
God has been active in history. God has been designing to redeem men, and the redeemer is Christ. If Christ does not come, men are not redeemed. If men are not redeemed, history is a mockery going nowhere but to an eternal hell. And so in those verses, 17-22, which we saw last week, Paul declares that history comes down to Jesus Christ. You say then, “Well history’s over, we’re still going on.” History is peaked out in Christ. It was uphill from there; it’s downhill from there. Christ is the apex of history. They looked up to Christ as the crowning event of history; we look back to Christ as the crowning event of history with one eye on the future because he’s coming again. As we shall see tonight, he didn’t fulfill everything the first time; he has to come again. But history resolves in Jesus Christ, that’s his point. God did all of this. He goes through their history. God led you out, brought you into Egypt, took care of you in the wilderness, brought you into the Promised Land, divided the nation unto you, gave you the portions that you were supposed to have. Even when you wanted a king, he gave you a king. Then he raised up his King David and David ruled. And then you come to verses 23; let’s pick it up there. “Of this man’s seed,” – that is of David’s seed – “hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Savior.”
And right there if you stop, every Jew could say, “Amen. Amen, brother Paul. Preach it. The Savior is coming through David’s seed; that’s God’s plan. We know all of that.” Then he unloaded the wallop with one word, the last word of verse 23. What is it? Jesus. I am quite confident they did not expect to hear that. They did expect all the rest. And you know Paul was wise because the Jewish people just live for their historical place. They live for the fact that they are in the plan of God. They have based their eternal salvation for centuries on the fact that God is their God, see? And so Paul recites their history. “Yes, God is controlling your destiny. God is controlling your history. Your history is going toward a savior, the seed of David.” And they could’ve said amen all the way down and then wham, Jesus.
Yes, Jesus is the culmination of history. God designed men we saw last week for fellowship, right? That was their purpose, just to exist for fellowship with God and to give him glory. Men sinned falling from that. God said, “I want to recover them.” There’s only one way he can recover them, and that’s through Christ, right? And so Christ is necessary for the point of history. History was here in the beginning to create people who could worship and praise God. History is now not fulfilling its purpose. Only those who come to Jesus Christ fulfill the whole meaning of the world. And so Christ is the culmination of history. Without him, history has lost its meaning 'cause man can never be reconciled to God.
And so yes, history will resolve in the Savior who will bring men to God, making it possible. And that Savior he says is Jesus. And that, verse 23, is the bridge to his second point. Jesus was you know the seed of David, wasn’t he? Through the line of Mary he had the blood of David. Through the line of Joseph, he had the right to the throne from David. So both ways he was David’s seed. Jesus is the culmination of history. And now Paul moves into a sweeping statement secondarily. Why? Because of this: They would say if he stopped here, “Oh, Jesus could never be the fulfillment. He didn’t even have a kingdom. And how do we know? Why should I believe Jesus is the one?” So secondly he says, “Because of the fulfillment of prophesy.”
The reason Jesus is presented as the Messiah is because he fulfilled all the Messianic prophesy. By that I simply mean if in the Old Testament God says such and such will happen, such and such will happen, such and such will happen, and Jesus comes along and it all happens to him, he is the fulfillment of God's prediction. Right? That’s exactly what you have. God's saying all these prophesies about Messiah, every Jew knew that. Jesus comes along and fulfills every one of them. Now he doesn’t expect those Jews to just believe that because he tells them, so he begins then to go down the line of the prophesies. And from verse 23 through 37 Paul outlines the fulfillments of prophesy in the life of Jesus of Nazareth that qualify him to be the Messiah.
Let’s begin in 23. “Of this man’s seed, of David’s seed, hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus.” Notice the word promise. God said, “I will raise up a Savior according to the seed of David,” right? Second Samuel chapter 7. Do you think God keeps his promises? I think he does. I don’t think he has the capacity not to. Numbers 23:19, write it down, look it up. Isaiah 46:9 and 10. God cannot lie; God has no capacity for that. And God has promised a Savior through the line of David. Jeremiah 33:15, listen. Well let’s just jump down to verse 17: “For thus saith the Lord David shall never lack a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel.” In other words, when the Messiah comes, it’ll be through David. David’s line will never peter out so that there is no descendent. David’s line will never be frustrated and cease. There will always be the line of David. David will never lack a man to sit on the throne. The Messiah will be of the seed of David. God said it would never be any other way; no one would ever supplant David on the throne.
Remember in 2 Samuel 7, God said to David, “You’re going to have an eternal king come out of your loins.” Well, that’s the first promise, and Jesus fulfilled it. He was born of the seed of David. If there had have been a king in Israel, and of course there wasn’t because they were being ruled by outside power. If there had have been a legitimate king apart from Herod who was a ussurper, if there had been a legitimate king, it would’ve been Jesus. If there had been a legitimate king before Jesus, technically it could well have been Joseph who had the royal right. And of course, the Herods had been instituted as David’s kingdom had been set aside until Messiah came. But nevertheless, Jesus fulfilled the prophesy of being of the line of David.
In verse 24, Paul then moves ahead and he is going to prove that Jesus is Messiah by the fulfillment of prophesy. And I think we have, as I says, only excerpts here and so we’ll endeavor to fill in a little bit. Now the first great prophesy that Paul deals with in regard to the coming of Messiah was the prophesy that there would be a forerunner to Messiah. When Messiah was to come, there was going to be somebody who would come before Messiah and get everything ready, right? To prepare the way. Look at verse 24: “When John,” – and there is that somebody, John the Baptist – “When John had first preached.” Incidentally he is not called John the Baptist because he was a Baptist. There were no such things in those days. He’s called John the Baptist because he was a baptizer, and the Baptists have taken their name from him.
“When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel, even as John fulfilled his course,” – stop right there. God had desired that there would be a forerunner, right? Now notice the word fulfilled, that’s an important word. That indicates there was a prophesy fulfilled. You see it in verse 29? “Fulfilled.” In verse 22, “Fulfilled.” In verse 33, “God hath fulfilled.” Now here you see you’re talking about prophesy. Prophesy is fulfilled. The first prophesy that Paul alludes to is that of the forerunner. And he says, “When John came, before his coming,” – and the His there should be a capital H, the coming of Messiah, verse 24. John was preaching the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel.
You say, “Well what was that all about?” All right, watch. Before Messiah was to arrive – here’s Messiah’s arrival. Before Messiah was to arrive, there was to be a people prepared for Messiah’s arrival, right? John then was preaching repentance, “Get ready, Messiah is coming.” There’s a great principle here. John’s baptism was not Christian baptism. Christian baptism didn’t come in ‘til after the death and resurrection of Christ, right? Romans chapter 6 tells us that when we are saved we are buried with him by baptism into his death and resurrection. And water baptism symbolizes that: His death and resurrection for us, right? But before his death and resurrection what you have here is the baptism of repentance. What is it? It’s ceremonial cleansing going on among the Jews. Why? Because they were really setting themselves aside to get ready for Messiah. John would preach, “Messiah is coming, turn from your sin and prepare your heart to receive the Messiah.” And they were confessing sin and their being baptized was like a ceremonial outward confession to the world that they were coming apart from sin to get ready for Messiah. You got that? The baptism of repentance was a ceremonial confession of an inward confession of sin as they desired to prepare their hearts for Messiah.
So John was getting a whole people ready, and was it a large group? Sure. They were flocking out there to him. And John the Baptist was preparing a people so that when Messiah came their hearts would be ready to receive Messiah. And you know that brings up a good point just as a footnote. I believe the sequence is still valid. Before anybody really comes to know Messiah, before anybody even in this age comes to know Jesus Christ, there must be repentance. There must be the turning from sin in the heart and then the turning to Christ. I think part of the reason we get so many shallow conversions today and have a lot more abortions sometimes than we do new births and the reason we have so many church members who don’t really know Jesus Christ because there is either an omission or a minimizing of the concepts of repentance.
I heard a guy on television the other night and he was talking and he kept saying, “Try Jesus. Just try Jesus.” And he must’ve said it ten or 15 times. I don’t like that statement; it was a ridiculous statement. It was like Jesus was a commodity sold on a commercial. “Try Jesus.” When you come to Jesus Christ, you turn from every other thing in your life. It’s a repentance from all things turning totally to Christ. It’s not like well I’ve done a lot of things but I’ll try that for a while. I don’t respond well to those things. Repentance is necessary to be preached, and John knew it and God knew it and that’s why God had John do it. So John was preparing for Messiah. Well every Jew knew that there was going to come a man who was going to be the preparing one.
Isaiah chapter 40, and I’ll just read you there briefly the statement of the prophet. Verse 3, “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make strait in the desert a highway for our God.’” There is going to come a prophet in Messianic times who’s going to say, “Get ready for Messiah.” That’s the context here. And then if you go further on into Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, verse 1 of chapter 3, listen to this: “Behold, says the prophet, I will send my messenger and he shall prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek shall suddenly come to his temple.” The first place that Jesus went when he began his public ministry was to the temple. But before he ever comes, there will be a messenger to prepare the way, and who was the messenger? John the Baptist. And all the Jews knew there had to be a messenger; there had to be one coming first. And so Paul says, “John fulfilled prophesy.” Now look, people, if there is a messenger saying Messiah’s coming, what’s coming? The Messiah. If you saw a messenger calling out a people to Messiah, then you better get your eyes open, that means Messiah’s coming.
So Paul begins by saying, “John fulfilled this course.” John is a marvelous person, and the Bible doesn’t say a whole lot about him but it just keeps hailing his humility, continuously exalts his humility. He was a strange guy you know, modified Tarzan suit made out of camel’s hair and he ate grasshoppers with honey on them, see if that would help grasshoppers taste better. Verse 25 indicates – and oh he was such a humble guy. It says in verse 25 that John fulfilled his course. He said this: “Who think ye that I am? I’m not he. You think I’m the Messiah? I’m not the Messiah.” Watch. “But behold there comes one after me the shoes of whose feet I’m not worthy to loose.” You know the most demeaning task that the slave had was to take the shoes off of the dirty feet of his master, and only the lowest of the lowest slaves had the right to do that. And John says, “Not only am I not the Messiah, but there’s one coming after me who is and I’m not even worthy to exalt myself to take off his dirty shoes.” That’s humility, isn’t it? John was a humble guy. And you know something, let me tell you something about humility. In Matthew 11:11 listen to the words of Jesus, he said this: “Among them that are born of women,” – listen – “there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.” The greatest man that ever lived up until his time was John the Baptist. You say, “Whoo, Moses, Elijah, Abraham, David?” John the Baptist. You say, “Why?” Watch this one: Because the lower a man goes in humility the higher he goes in the exaltation of God, right? So believe me, if John was the highest in the sight of God, what was he in his own sight? The lowest. That’s why he was great.
Well, he fulfilled his course. God's in the business of tearing down the proud and lifting up the humble, isn’t he? John wasn’t the Messiah. Remember in John chapter 1 there was a man who came from God, his name was John. He was not that light, but he was what? “Sent to bear witness of the light,” and he prepared the way. And you remember when Jesus finally came and he was down there at the Jordan River. He looked and he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” What was he saying? He was saying, “Don’t look at me anymore; look at him.” John 3:30 he said, “He must increase and I must decrease.” He fulfilled his course. God said there’s coming a messenger, and Paul says in his sermon, “There was a messenger, people,” and he must’ve been a well-known guy because he doesn’t even tell us about him. He just says to those people, “John,” and they all knew him; he was a well-known prophet. And they probably had heard of the tremendous mass of people that moved out to respond to John.
If the messenger came, the Messiah must be on his heels. And he was a voice in the wilderness, wasn’t he, out there in the desert fulfilling the prophesy. He goes a step further, verse 26: “Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham and whosever among you who fears God,” and there again are the two distinctions. This is talking of Abraham. Would be Jews, and the whosever feared God would be gentile converts. “To us,” – not you but the best manuscripts say us – “to us is the word of this salvation sent.” Isn’t that great? The salvation that comes in Jesus as announced by John is for us. Now I detect Paul’s outline coming out here. Verse 23, Jesus is the Savior. Verse 26, his salvation is for whom? Us. I’m going to give you a preview of his climax, verse 39: “And by him all that,” – what? – “believe are justified.” There’s his three key points that come through the text. One, Jesus is the Savior. Two, he saves us. Three, he saves us by what? By faith, by believing.
And so he says, “This Savior is sent unto us.” Jesus is the promised Messiah and he’s promised to us. “Don’t miss him,” he says. History is going somewhere; it’s going towards Jesus. Prophesy is going somewhere; it’s going toward Jesus. Now at this point, I know Paul has a logical mind; everything he writes is that way. And I know at this point he’s got two questions that I would have. If I was a Jew I would say, “Now wait a minute,” because this is question Jews continually ask. “If Jesus is as you say the Messiah,” – watch – “why didn’t our leaders recognize him?” Right? They esteemed the leaders in Jerusalem. “Why didn’t they know him? I mean our leaders, Bible scholars, Old Testament scholars they wouldn’t kill the Messiah that we’ve been waiting for. What explanation for that?” Question number two: If perhaps by some unbelievable circumstance he was the Messiah and they did kill him, does that wipe out God's plan? You got those two questions? Those are very important questions. One, if he is the Messiah, how come our leaders killed him? They’re the Old Testament authorities. Two, if he is the Messiah and they did kill him by some strange quirk, does that wipe out God's plan?
Paul proceeds to answer those two questions giving prophetic reasons. Powerful. Verse 27: “For they that dwell at Jerusalem,” – people of Jerusalem – “and their rulers, because they knew him not nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every day, Sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.” Now listen to this, unbelievable statement in that verse, just a powerful statement. “They that dwell at Jerusalem are the people and the rulers, because they knew him not. Blinded by their own sin.” They didn’t see him. They didn’t know him. They killed him because they didn’t know who he was. You say, “But they’re supposed to know who he is. They’re the Bible scholars.” Look what he says: “Nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day.” Did you get that? You know what they did every Sabbath day? Read the prophets, didn’t they? Well you can go back in that very synagogue, can’t you, back to verse 15. What was the first thing they did when they met? Said the Shema and then they read the law and what? The prophets. Every Sabbath day they read the prophets, read the prophets, read the prophets all the time. You know what? They didn’t even know what the prophets were talking about. That’s what it says. It’s an indictment. “Nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every Sabbath day.” And there’s a certain amount of disgust in the whole concept.
Now before you chastise the Jews, let me hasten to say that there are many in the church today who continually read the Scripture and absolutely have no concept of what God is saying. And I’m sure there are even some Christians who because of sin in their life hear the Word of God and even read it themselves without any understanding. But Israel had read the Old Testament continuously and the prophesies over and over, and they knew the qualities and the characteristics of their prophesy. They knew the kind of prophesy it was. They were supposed to be authorities on it. All of this and yet absolutely without conclusion.
Now let me just share with you the fact that if you’re ignorant of the written Word you will inevitably be ignorant of the Living Word, and they were. They read it without understanding. You know Jesus indicted them for this. Remember in John 5, isn’t it verse 39 where he says, “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think you have eternal life.” And then he said this: “And they are they which speak or testify of me. If you really knew what you’re reading, you’d see me.” He said in John 8, they said, “We are the children of God. He is our father.” And he says, “No, no, you’re the children of the devil. And because I speak the truth, you can’t understand it.” Remember what he said to the Sadducees in Matthew 22:29? “You do err not knowing the Scriptures.” In Luke 24, he walked on the road to Emmaus and he says to them, “Oh slow of heart to believe all the Scriptures hath saith.” Then he proceeded to teach them concerning himself out of the Scripture. Here they are spending all their life fooling around with the Old Testament never knowing what it was talking about.
You know that’s true in religion today? You know that’s true in the name of Christianity people reading Bibles and talking about Bibles and carrying Bibles who haven’t got the faintest idea what they’re talking about? There are many cults that even take Bibles all over the place and pervert them and twist them, and this is common stuff. Ignorance had become a way of life for them. They had substituted a ritualistic structure for truth, and they couldn’t fit everything into the frames that they had structured. So they were ignorant, that’s why they killed him. And the reason they were ignorant was because they didn’t even know the Scriptures they professed to read with understanding. So that answers the first question, how could our leaders miss him. They missed him because they didn’t even understand what they were reading. Too much sin, too much hypocrisy.
The second question was this: If they killed him, did that wipe out God's plan? Look at the answer to that, whammo at the end of verse 27. “They have fulfilled them in condemning them.” Did you know that God knew what they’d do? Did you know that? God knew every single thing they’d do. All of the rejection of Christ and the condemnation of Christ was put in the plan from the very beginning. In Isaiah 53:3, he was despised and rejected, right? God knew that. Every detail was prescribed. God knew from the very beginning that he would be fully rejected, that he would be executed. In John chapter 7, verse 5 it says this: “For neither did his brothers believe in him.” Verse 48, when they were arguing about whether Jesus was Messiah, it says this: “Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed on him?” They fulfilled prophesy. God said they’ll reject him, and they did. He was hated incidentally without a cause. Look at verse 28: “And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.” Isn’t that amazing? They had absolutely no reason to kill him but they killed him. You want to hear something startling? Listen to Psalm 69, verse 4, prophesy: “Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head.” The prophet said that Messiah would be hated without a cause. Look at it again in verse 28: “And though they found no cause of death, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.” They hadn’t any reason. There wasn’t any legitimate accusation that could hold up, and Pilate repeatedly said, “There’s nothing wrong. I find no fault,” etcetera, etcetera.
Jesus himself said in John 15:25, “This cometh to pass that the Word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’” God knew all along. You say, “Well if the Jewish rulers rejected him, did that wipe out God's plan?” No, that fulfilled his plan; he knew they’d do that. He knew they’d do that. It’s a pretty overwhelming argument, Jesus fulfills every prophesy. Some people say that Jesus got up there on the cross and tried to fulfill all the prophesy. He knew the Old Testament real well so he just worked it out so that he could fulfill all of them; he quoted the right verses and did all that. Well that’s fine but how do you get the Jews, the whole nation of Israel, to condemn him without a cause unless the Scripture – I mean Jesus didn’t set that in motion. How do you get soldiers to stick spears in his side? I don’t hear him giving any orders to them to do that, and that fulfills prophesy. So many things.
Look at verse 29. I love this: “And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree.” Isn’t that amazing? You know what they were doing the whole time they were crucifying Jesus? Fulfilling what? Prophesy. One right after the other. They thought they were so wise, they were getting rid of this imposter insurrectionist, fulfilling prophesy right on schedule down the line. And I love what Paul says: “And when they had fulfilled all the prophesy, they took him down.” God is no victim; neither was Jesus, believe me. You say, “Well what prophesies were they fulfilling on the cross?” Well first of all, the fact that he was executed without a cause is mentioned in verse 28, but have you ever just analyzed the things that he fulfilled on the cross?
Let me give them to you; don’t try to write them down. Psalm 109:25 says this: “I also have become a reproach to them that when they see me they wag their head.” The prophesy that the people would wag their heads at him. Just remember the interval of hundreds of years between the prophesy and the fulfillment. Matthew 27:39: “And those who were passing by were hurling abuse at Jesus, wagging their heads.” Psalm 22:17: “They look, they stare at me.” Luke 23:35: “And the people stood by looking.” Psalm 22:18: “They divided my garments among them and for my clothing they cast lots.” John 19:23 and 24 the soldiers got together. They said, “Let’s not part his garment. Let’s cast lots.” Exactly fulfilling the prophesy. The soldiers fulfilled it. They didn’t even know it; they were Romans. Psalm 69:21: “And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink and gall.” There you have thirsty with vinegar and gall mentioned. In Matthew 27:34, they gave him wine to drink mingled with gall. The vinegar was there too, and Jesus on the cross said, “I thirst.” In Psalm 22:1, it says, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” would be the cry of the dying Messiah on the cross. In Matthew 27:46, Jesus said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
In Psalm 31:5, it says, “Into thy hands I commit my Spirit,” would be the statement of Messiah. In Luke 23:46, “Father, into thy hands I commit my Spirit,” said Jesus. In Psalm 34:20, it says he keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. In John 19:33, it says, “But coming to Jesus when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs,” fulfilling the prophesy. In Psalm 22:14, the Messiah in prophesy says, “My heart is like wax, it melts within me.” And in John 19:34, his side was pierced and there flowed blood and water, indicating the breaking of his heart melting within him, fulfilling the prophesy. In Zechariah 12:10, the prophet said, “They will look on me whom they have pierced.” In John 19:34, a soldier took a spear and pierced his side, fulfilling the prophesy. The Romans were in on the fulfillment. The Jews were in the fulfillment. Jesus was in on the fulfillment. The crowd was in on the fulfillment. Everybody was in on the fulfillment because God ordered it all. Jesus was Messiah every way you cut it.
In John 19, I just want to point out a couple of very interesting notes there, it says this. John 19, verse 16: “Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified, and they took Jesus and led him away.” Isn’t it an interesting thing, most crucified victim were driven from the rear because of the panic and the terror, or they were dragged, tied and dragged to the cross. Jesus was what? Led. Isaiah 53:7 simply says this: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter.” Every tiny minute detail fulfilled. Back in Genesis 22:6, Isaac is a type of Christ. As Isaac goes to be the sacrifice and Isaac carries the sticks of the offering on his own back. In says in this prophesy, “And he bearing his cross.” He even fulfills the little typical picture of the sacrifice who carries its own wood. It says he went forth, and we know that the prophesy in the Old Testament, the picture of the type of sacrifice that Christ was to make was a sacrifice known as the sin offering that had to be taken outside the city, right? And Jesus went out the gates, says Hebrews 13. He went forth.
Then it says verse 18, “They crucified him.” Do you know that to a Jew that kind of execution was absolutely an unknown thing? Jews didn’t crucify anybody. What did they do to execute? They stoned people and they lifted up nobody. They dropped them off at least a ten-foot thing and then they threw things down on him. But in Numbers chapter 24, there’s a beautiful picture. Israel was infested by snakes and God said, “You raise up a serpent,” right? “And you look up at that serpent and you’ll be healed.” And John in the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus records the fact that Jesus was the one who was going to fulfill that prophesy. Remember in John 3? And later on Jesus said, “And I if I be lifted up shall draw men unto me.” And when they executed him, they didn’t put him down and stone them. They lifted him up. How did the prophet clear back in Numbers 24 ever know that when he painted the perfect picture? God ran it from beginning to end.
Notice what it says back in Acts 13, and we’ll wrap up our thoughts. It says in verse 29, “They laid him in a sepulcher.” You know that fulfilled prophesy? The Bible says in Isaiah 53:9 that his grave was assigned to be with wicked men. They used to throw criminals in the same big place where they buried criminals. It was assigned to be there, but with a rich man in his death. Jesus didn’t wind up where the criminals are buried. He wound up in the tomb of a rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, exactly fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah 53:9. Jesus fulfills it all.
And that brings us to the great climax of this area of the sermon; look at verse 30. I love it, this is the key note of the apostolic preaching throughout all the book of Acts. “But God raised him from the dead.” That shows again just what Peter showed three times in three different sermons, that God and man see Jesus differently, and God reversed the verdict of Israel, didn’t he? “You killed him, God raised him,” said Peter. Three times. Here Paul says the same thing, and it sounds like Peter from here on. They must have traded sermon notes. God raised him. In fact, the great proof that Jesus is Messiah, the crowning proof is his resurrection. Why? Because all of the promises God made would be unfulfilled if Jesus was dead, right? But when he raised him, he made possible the fulfillment. Romans 1:4: “He is declared to be the Son of God with power,” – watch – “by the resurrection from the dead.” God gave his approval, raised him from the grave.
And then he gives evidence in 31: “He was seen many days of them who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem who are his witnesses unto the people.” Over 500 witnesses, according to 1 Corinthians 15, saw Jesus. And it couldn’t have been a hoax for 500 people, and most of whom knew him well. So God raised him and they saw him; there are witnesses to prove it. And then in 32 he says, “And we declare unto you good news, good news, people.” What is it? “The promise which was made to the fathers God hath,” – what’s the next word? – “fulfilled.” What was the promise? Oh, I’m going to give you three of them. Paul says, “I’m going to give you three quick promises.” Watch this one. Verse 33, first promise: “In that he hath raised Jesus up again.” Here comes it, first promise: “As it is also written in the second Psalm, thou art my Son this day have I begotten thee.” You know that God predicted that he would beget his Son. That has to do not only with his incarnation to begin with but has to do with his resurrection. God prophesied through David a resurrection. God said, “I’m going to have a Messiah, a living Messiah, a begotten in incarnation and in resurrection.” That’s fulfilled when Jesus rose, right?
Then he goes to his second prophesy. Look at this one in verse 34: “And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead now no more to return to corruption he said in this way I will give you really the holy and sure blessings of David.” What does he mean? Well he made all these promises in David, right? And that’s Isaiah 55:3 incidentally that he quotes there. God had given all these promises to come in Messiah, but if you’ve got a dead Messiah, what happens to the promises? No good. So he says, “I raised him so that I could grant the promises to you through him.” David in his posterity could never have been fulfilled if Messiah stayed in the grave. A dead Messiah fulfills nothing. He says, “I’ve got sure mercies. I’ve got blessings for David, and I raised him to make them possible. I will give you the sure mercies of David.” Notice, “I will give you.” There is no condition, right? He doesn’t say, “If the Messiah can stay alive, I’ll give you the mercies.” “I will give you the mercies.” That’s why he had to raise him from the dead, so that the mercies and the blessings could come through him.
Then the last and great one. Wherefore he saith also in another Psalm, that’s Psalm 16, verses 8-10: “Thou shalt not allow thine holy one to see corruption.” Isn’t that beautiful? Clear back in Psalm 16, God promised that Jesus would rise from the dead. Some people said, “Oh come on, that refers to David.” Some of the Jews said, “That’s referring to David.” “Thou shalt not allow thy holy one to see corruption,” that doesn’t have any messianic statement; that’s David. So he answers it verse 36: “For David after he had served his own generation by the will of God fell asleep and was laid to his fathers and saw,” – what? – “corruption.” You know his body is still corrupted there. Wherever they buried David his body has never come out of there; it’s corrupted beyond imagination at this point. And no Jew ever believed in the resurrection of David. Verse 37: “But He,” – capital H – “whom God raised again saw,” – what? – “no corruption.” Oh, he’s saying, “People, you’ve got to believe Jesus is Messiah.” Why? One, the forerunner, he announced it. True. Two, even in his execution when it looked like everything was going wrong, there was a fulfillment of prophesy after prophesy after prophesy. Third, even in his death, God raised him from the dead. Jesus is the Messiah because, watch this, what happened before he came? What happened while he came, and what happened after he went, briefly? God raised him again to life.
Jesus is the Messiah. He is not only the culmination of history; he is the fulfillment of prophesy. I close with this statement: We can only judge the future by the past, people. And in the past, God always kept every promise, didn’t he? Fulfilled is the key word all through there. You want to hear something? God has appointed a future day of judgment, and the Bible says that for every man that rejects Jesus Christ there will be the judgment of eternal hell. Has God kept his promises in the past? Yes. Will he keep them in the future? Yes. God's predictions come true, and for one who rejects Jesus Christ it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Our, Father, we come to you with a sense of awe at how you have ruled history and prophesy. We thank you for Jesus Christ who makes history meaningful and life meaningful and who fulfills every prophesy for Messiah. We thank you for the ones yet to be fulfilled in his coming again. But, Father, we pray especially for the lost sheep of the house of Israel that they would come to recognize Jesus as Messiah, the Savior of the world. That they would see that he fulfills the prophesies, that his forerunner fulfills them, that his resurrection, that all of the things that happened on the cross simply call to mind those things predicted of Messiah in the Old Testament.
Father, don’t let anybody continue in rejection and develop a heart that is stony, a willful heart of unbelief. But while there is still the chance to respond we pray that no one would leave today who has not acknowledged Jesus Christ as Savior. And, Father, send us forth now equipped with this information together with the moving of the Spirit of God to see people come to Christ. We pray in his name. Amen.
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