The Divinity of Jesus, March 6th, 2022
God of all wisdom and truth, we seek your guidance as we hear the Scriptures read and interpreted today. Send your Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts, to give us fresh understanding and a renewed commitment to follow your Word. Amen
New Testament Reading: Acts 2:22-36
In last Sunday’s reading from the book of Acts we heard about the Day of Pentecost. The disciples and the closest followers of Jesus were in Jerusalem waiting for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to descend upon them, as promised by Jesus before his ascension. When that took place, one of the gifts they received was the ability to speak in other languages. And, as part of God’s plan to offer salvation to all mankind, there were large crowds from all parts of the known world gathered in Jerusalem at that time for the feast of Pentecost. And because of the Holy Spirit the disciples were able to communicate with them in their native tongues. This was an astonishing gift from God.
The Apostle Peter took the lead on this, and he stood up and addressed the crowd. This was the first Christian sermon, and in the section that we read last week, we heard Peter explain to the people exactly who Jesus was; that he truly was divine, and he was the Son of God.
Well, this morning we’re going to look at the next section of Peter’s sermon, and unfortunately, it was bad news for some of those in the crowd that Pentecost morning. They were going to be condemned by Peter, not just for what they had allowed, but encouraged to take place, being the crucifixion and death of the one who was sent by God to offer them forgiveness of sins and eternal life, his son, Jesus Christ.
The first thing Peter does is to get their attention. He knows that what he has to tell them is eternally important, so he wants to make sure that they’re listening. Peter says, “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say”. There were many standing in front of Peter who would have been in that crowd fifty days earlier during the celebration of the feast of the Passover. They would have been some of the ones who cried out “crucify him” when Pilate brought Jesus out in front of them and said, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” Peter wants them to look back on that day, so he commands them, “listen to what I have to say”.
And in this sermon Peter is going to make three points which prove that Jesus was the promised Messiah for Israel, he’s going to talk about his miracles, his resurrection, and his ascension. Let’s begin with the miracles of Jesus.
Peter begins by saying, “Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know.” He reminds them of the miracles which Jesus performed when he was among them. He healed people, he fed them, and taught them like no other man had ever done. And yet, he was a man, says Peter. He was a human being just like anyone else. The secret of the miracles which Jesus performed was that he was a man through whom God worked, and that is where Peter begins his great message.
Yet, Jesus was also divine, he was part of the Trinity of God. He was part of God, and it was because of this that he was able to perform his miracles, signs, and wonders.
Peter then continues, saying, “this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law.” He pointed out that Jesus' crucifixion had been no accident but was part of God's eternal plan. In other words, God planned the suffering and death of Jesus so that forgiveness of sins could be preached to all the nations of the world. Peter also points out that while it was the plan of God, it was man who was responsible for the death of Jesus.
The second point Peter makes is to talk about the resurrection of Jesus. He says, “But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.” It may have been man who caused the death of Jesus, but it was God who raised him from the dead. It was God who “freed him from death”. Because Jesus was human, he was subject to death, but because he was divine, death couldn’t hold him. Unlike ordinary man, who because of the original sin of Adam is destined to die, it was impossible for death to hold Jesus because he had committed no sins himself. For man, the wages of sin is death, but because Jesus committed no sin, he had not personally earned the wages of sin, yet for the sake of mankind, he voluntarily took upon himself the sins of others. This is the gift of salvation through Jesus, life ever-lasting, that God gave to us, if we follow him.
The third, and final confirmation Peter offers as to the divinity of Jesus lies in these words, “This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.” So not only did God raise Jesus from the dead he also seated him at his right hand in heaven where he, along with the Holy Spirit, are part of the Trinity, being God, Three-In-One.
And the proof of this, says Peter, is that Jesus, “having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.” Before he ascended into heaven to be at the right hand of God, Jesus told his disciples to return and wait in Jerusalem and “to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This,” Jesus said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’” And that is why Peter was able to address the crowds in their native tongues. It was one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The fact that Peter was able to do that showed that Jesus had done what he had promised he would do, send the Holy Spirit to be with the disciples.
Peter then ends his sermon with these words, “Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” In saying this he is reminding them, once again, that they were there when Jesus had been crucified. Many in that crowd had been there during the Passover week, when the city was so stirred with the arrest and trial and the death of Jesus. They were among those who cried out for his crucifixion. But now he has given them the proof that they were wrong, Jesus was the long promised Messiah, the Son of God.
Thankfully for them, even after this, there is hope for Peter’s audience. That hope is the message of the Gospel, the Good News, and that hope is the same for us today. Peter will explain this hope in the next few verses of this chapter of Acts, which we’ll look at next Sunday. But for now, let’s consider some of the lessons for us from this sermon.
What is important for us, and all mankind today, is deciding who Jesus is and whether or not you will accept him as Lord and Saviour and receive his salvation. It’s the most important decision someone will ever make. It’s not a matter to be taken lightly. We need to trust in Jesus as the one who died in our place, bearing the penalty for our sins. By doing so we will experience the forgiveness of our sins and the promise of spending eternity in his presence.
Peter, in his sermon has proven that Jesus Christ is Lord, whether all men believe it or not. No one should think that they can dismiss Jesus Christ as though he were an option; as though they had the choice either of believing or not believing in him, or that it will not make much difference one way or the other. As we see in the Bible again and again, it truly will be the difference. And, sooner or later, we will all have to face this reality whether we like it or not. There is no way we can avoid it if we want eternal life with God. Our very lives are dependent on Jesus. He is Lord over all things. Jesus is the light of the world that bridges our lives with God. He took on our sins so that we could see our loved ones again and live in eternal peace with God.
After hearing Peter speak those in the crowd asked him, "What shall we do?" Peter's answer is wonderful -- it is the Christian gospel. And this is what we’ll look at next Sunday. It is the declaration that Christ is ready to forgive us. He will receive us, if we will accept him, and recognize the fact that he is our Lord and Saviour. He is our path to God, our Father.
Let us Pray:
Our Father, we thank you for the truth in this declaration of Peter that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord. You have exalted him and given him the name which is above every name, and at that the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. We pray that any who have never come to accept Jesus may hear these words of Peter to repent and to believe, and thus receive the promised Spirit, available to all. We thank you in Jesus' name, Amen.