Acts 2:21-47

Key verse: 2:36


                        “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”


            Today’s message is Peter’s famous sermon to the men of Israel who had taken part in Jesus’ condemnation and crucifixion. This sermon though is not only directed to those particular people, at that particular time in history, but to all people of every age, including us here today. This is because all have sinned against God and all our sins have nailed Jesus to the cross. There is no one who is without guilt. We are all responsible for crucifying to the cross and putting him to death.


However, Peter’s sermon does not end in condemning the crowd or us.  His sermon focus is not just on the death of Jesus because of our sins, but also on his resurrection from the dead by the power of God. When God raised Jesus from the dead, he made him both Lord and Christ. This Lord and Christ wants to rule our hearts and make us very fruitful through the work of the Holy Spirit. However, as we shall see, we need to respond to this message that we crucified Christ with repentance and then accept his forgiveness that he is freely offering us here today.


Through Peter’s message, the Holy Spirit converted almost 3,000 people. God also grew these believers and enabled their daily lives to win many people to Jesus Christ. God can do a great work in and through us when we accept his message today. May God give you a right heart and a humble attitude to hear and accept his word today. May the Holy Spirit convict you of your sins and lead you to know for yourselves, personally that Jesus is your Lord and your Christ.


Part 1. God Has Raised this Jesus to Life (22-36)


            Let’s read verse 22, “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” As we have previously heard, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the 120 believers when they got together and prayed earnestly and faithfully. When the Holy Spirit was poured out on them, they began to speak in tongues. This amazed the crowds of people, Jews  from other nations,  who were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. They heard the believers declaring the wonders of God in their own tongues. At this, some made fun of them and said they were drunk.


Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke up and began to tell them what this meant. “They are not drunk” Peter said. “It is only nine in the morning!” Peter explained to them that this event that they were now witnessing was prophesied by the prophet Joel. God said that in the last days he would pour out his Spirit on all people. Now Peter has their attention. Now he used this opportune time to talk about Jesus of Nazareth. They all knew about Jesus. They were all familiar with what Jesus said and did. Many in this crowd even witnessed Jesus’ miracles such as opening the eyes of the man born blind and raising Lazarus from the dead. It was pretty clear to them, it was obvious. They were not ignorant of this.


Let’s read verse 23, “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”  First Peter explained to them that God had a set purpose for Jesus to be crucified. God had a plan from the beginning as soon as man disobeyed God by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Through their one disobedient act, sin entered the world and death entered the world.


 When sin entered the world, man’s hearts experienced separation from God. What were some of the other things they experienced? Fear, guilt, and shame. Then, both Adam and Eve tried to deny what they did by blaming their sin on each other. None of them wanted to take the responsibility that they sinned. This sin spread to their children, Cain. When Cain killed his brother Abel (Gen.4) and was confronted by God, he tried to hide it and made the excuse, “I don’t know. Am, I my brother’s keeper?” Because of sin, Cain became a restless wanderer. His life became a burden because he feared someone was seeking revenge on him to kill him, though in actuality no one wanted to kill him. Because of sin, men’s hearts and lives became totally depraved. Men became heartless and godless and filled with every kind of wickedness.


When men sinned, they broke God’s law and sinned against him. Sin is a crime against God, even when it is done in ignorance. People try to hide their sins and look good outwardly and say, “I’m OK.”  But inside they are like the man in the Russian novel “Crime and Punishment” who killed someone and tried to cover it up, but who was growing insane because he tried to cover it up. The guilt and burden was growing and growing within him, ready to explode.


No one can say that they have not sinned. There is no remedy for sin. There is no drug or psychiatric therapy that can stop one from sinning. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death (Rom6:23) This is why God in his set purpose and foreknowledge sent Jesus to take away our sins by his death on the cross. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Jesus’ death on the cross takes away all our sins and saves us from God’s judgment for all sinners which is the fiery lake of burning sulfur.


  Jesus is God’s perfect sacrifice and ransom sacrifice for us because God had a set purpose and plan to bring this Jesus for us from the beginning. On him, God laid the inequity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6) It was God’s will to crush Jesus and cause him to suffer and to make his life a guilt offering. (Isaiah 53:10)  Look again at this verse. Peter is telling the crowd that “you with the help of wicked men put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” Of course, God in his sovereignty used sinful men to accomplish his salvation purpose. However, he does not hold anyone guiltless for their sins. This is no excuse for anyone to sin.


             He said that they were the ones who were responsible for the death of Jesus. In the same way, all of here today are responsible for the death of Jesus. When Peter says “you” he means each of you here today, including myself. It means missionaries and shepherds too, and fellowship leaders. This is our terrible crime that we nailed Jesus to death because of our sins. We are all criminals! You nailed Jesus to the cross! You did it! However, some of us may say, “Now wait a second, I was not there, that happened almost 2,000 years ago. I didn’t do it.”  But you did. This is because when you sin, that sin was put on Jesus. Jesus’ death on the cross was for those present at the time as well as for all those people, including us who will ever live. Your sins put Jesus on the cross. It caused him to suffer and suffer shame and finally death.


When we sin against God, and this also includes those who don’t believe in Jesus, which is the worst sin of all, we are crucifying Jesus again and again, causing him pain and sufferings. The book of Hebrews chapter 10 rebukes us to the severity of our sins if we keep on deliberately sinning against God after we have received the knowledge of the truth (Heb.10:26-31). When we take sin lightly and reject Jesus in our daily life we are crucifying the Son of God Jesus Christ all over again (Heb.6:6)


This should make us to not want to sin and to take sin very seriously. For example, if we knew that our sins were hurting someone close to us, someone like our mother or father or wife or husband, we would not want to do it,  now would we? Is there anyone here who would want to cause those whom they love such pain? No, we don’t want to. We would not even want to think about it. Yet our sins caused Jesus to suffer endless pain and to be nailed to the cross and to suffer a terrible death.


Therefore, we need to take sin very seriously. We must also not reject the Son of God Jesus Christ, for this is the worst sin. And we must not let the sin of self-righteous pride and complacency cause Jesus to suffer. This is the sin of the religious leaders like the Pharisees which caused them to condemn Jesus and to crucify him. We must acknowledge that our sins have killed Jesus.


Look at verse 24, “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”  Peter’s sermon takes on a whole new atmosphere here. The religious leaders and other Jews thought that by rejecting Jesus and killing him that they would finally get rid of him. But they were wrong. After Jesus was dead in the tomb for three days, God raised Jesus from the dead.


God raised Jesus from the dead. This is part of the gospel message. “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”  Jesus’ resurrection was also part of God’s set purpose and foreknowledge.  His resurrection is also rooted in the Scripture for us to see and to know. It is not a man made story. Up until the time of Jesus’ death, death ruled the world. There has been no one who conquered death. Alexander the Great conquered the whole known world in his time. But when he was 33 years old, he caught a cold and he died. He could not conquer death.


Man has always tried to conquer something. Men have climbed the highest mountains in the world, like Mount Everest. Men have conquered space and went to the moon. Men have even conquered many diseases and sicknesses by developing vaccines. But men have not been able to conquer death. So death rules the world. Those who live under the power of death cannot have real joy. So they live selfishly and seek pleasure to try and ignore the reality that death awaits them. People are familiar with the saying that there are three sure things in life: Birth, taxes and death. We can’t escape from paying our taxes and one cannot escape death. Without the resurrection of Jesus, all people must live in fear of death and be full of paranoia. People became afraid of even tiny bacteria as we see in the bathrooms in the use of putting paper down on the toilet bowl seats.


The fear of death paralyzes people. It makes them full of agony even to think about it. We remember that a little more than one year ago the two snipers in the Washington DC area brought fear to people. Each person wondered if they would be the next victim of the sniper. People hid and didn’t go outside. People rushed to fill up their cars with gas as they did so hid behind the gas pumps. Fear of death gripped the whole area.

But God raised Jesus from the dead. God who raised Jesus from the dead shows us that our God is the Almighty God and the creator God who gives life. We don’t have to fear death because for us who believe death is not the end of it, because Jesus has freed us from death. Death has to let us go because Jesus freed us from death. He came in and rescued us from death. Jesus is mightier than death. Death has lost its power over us because Jesus freed us from death through his resurrection.


Because Jesus rose from the dead by the power of God, God gave men who believe the kingdom of God. What we lost and what we could not earn has been given to us by Jesus. 1 Peter 1:3, 4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.”  Because Jesus rose from the dead by the power of God history has changed forever. We heard last week in the book reports of Christians like Martin Luther, Gladys Aylward and Dietrich Bonhoffer, Heather Mercer and Dayna Curry, their courageous faith. They were willing to give their lives for Jesus. They weren’t afraid of death. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was willing to leave the comfortable and safe USA to go back to his native Germany during World War 2 knowing that he would probably die for Jesus there. His resurrection faith made him love his own people who were suffering in Germany more than his own life.


            Look at verses 25-28. In these verses, Peter brings King David into his sermon as a witness to the resurrection of Jesus. The Jews all knew about King David. He was revered and honored as a loving king, and a good shepherd to his people. Especially, God had promised that from King David’s genealogical line that the Messiah would come. In these verses, Peter quotes some verses from Psalm 16.


In these verses, David said that he saw the Lord before him. He saw that God would not abandon him to the grave nor would he let his Holy One see decay. This Holy One he is talking about is Jesus.  Verse 31 says, “Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.” Like any man, David feared death. He thought about after he died that his body would be decaying in the grave and be eaten up worms and maggots. David did die and was buried in the tomb as Peter said in verse 29. However, David had resurrection faith when he accepted God’s word to him.


While he lived with this resurrection faith, his heart was full of joy. His tongue continually praised God and he lived with the eternal hope of God in his heart. He knew where he was from and where he was going. The resurrection of Jesus made it clear to him that his path of life would not end in the grave, but with the resurrection of the dead and entrance into the kingdom of God. These verses in 25-31 are really his testimony to his faith in the resurrection of the coming Messiah Jesus.


I can say that before I ever studied the Bible I lived in the fear of death. I thought that death was the end of everything. As a young boy I had shivers go up my spine when I thought that I would lie forever without consciences in a grave and decay into nothing but dead bones. So I tried to preserve my life by trying to live as healthy as I could and by running a lot. I wanted to live to be more than 100. I wanted human glory and to win many gold medals. However. When I became a Christian, God gave peace to my heart as I studied about the resurrection of Jesus. He gave me joy to know that my body will not be abandoned to the grave but I will be with the Lord forever in his glory. God also helped me to see that all man’s glory is like the grass of the field and the flowers of the field that wither and fade (1Peter 1:24) Only in Jesus and his resurrection is glory and it is an eternal glory that does not perish spoil or fade. This is the glory that I want to seek.


Let’s read  verse 32, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.”  Peter is saying here to the crowd of people and to us here right now, that this Holy One whom David was talking about is Jesus Christ, the one you all crucified. But now God has raised him to life! Peter was a witness to this fact. Why would Peter a Galilean fisherman be talking about and preaching about a dead man? How could this uneducated fisherman who had ran away when he saw danger of all a sudden be risking his life and talking about Jesus if Jesus were not alive? It wouldn’t make any sense. 


Peter declared that he was a witness to this. The resurrection of Jesus had changed his life. He could not hold back this wonderful news. His heart was burning for these people to tell them this good news. He wanted these people to believe and be saved. His heart was like Jesus’ heart for the lost. Not only did he confess that he was a witness, but also the Holy Spirit that was poured out was also a witness. The Holy Spirit, which enabled the believers to speak in other languages, was proof that Jesus whom they crucified has been raised from the dead.  Let’s read verse 33, “Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear


Look at verses 34-35, “For David did not ascend into heaven, and yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” This Psalm of David further shows the resurrection power of Jesus Christ and that God has raised him from the dead. Peter used another psalm to testify about Jesus’ resurrection. In this Psalm, the first Lord is the Lord of all, God the Father. The second Lord is Jesus the Son. Jesus the Son of God whom God raised from the dead now sits at God’s right hand side. He put the enemy death under his feet. This is a very dramatic description of what Jesus did. In the ancient times, the victor would stand on the defeated foe who was killed. He would put his feet on his head. This was an act of humiliation for the defeated enemy and a show of power and victory for the victor. Can you all see it now? Can see Jesus’ feet crushing the head of Satan and death? Death has suffered a defeat. Jesus has won the victory for us. Jesus is our champion.


What was the conclusion of Peter’s message? Let’s read verse 36, “Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Why did this crowd need to be assured? It is because of all the strong evidence that Peter spoke about. It is all what the Scripture had said would happen. It is Peter’s testimony and the work of the Holy Spirit. The evidence is too great for us to deny or for anyone to deny. God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.


What does it mean that Jesus is both Lord and Christ? This means that after Jesus suffered God exalted him to the highest place. Jesus went from suffering a criminal’s death on the cross in shame and to be raised and exalted into heaven and glorified in heaven at the right hand of God.  He went from the lowest position to the highest position. Now he who suffered on earth is now Lord of all in heaven.


We all like the fact that Jesus died for our sins and will forgive our sins. We enjoy Jesus knowing that he is our Savior, the Christ who will forgive any of our sins. Yet, he is not only the Christ, but he is the Lord. The Lord means the one whom we should honor, worship and obey. He is the one who should rule our life. This makes us happy if we let him rule our life. When we obey him and put him first we experience this. But when we try to rule our own lives and be the lord of our own life, we are never happy. Our human strength runs out and we then begin to be bothered and annoyed by every little human inconvenience.


How then can Jesus be our Lord? We must accept this message and pray that we may do God’s will not our own will. And there is another important thing we must do. Let’s find out in part two.





Part 2. The People’s Response to Peter’s Message (37-47)


            What was the people’s response to Peter’s powerful message? First, they were cut to the heart. Let’s read verse 37, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’”  Their hearts were stricken and their hearts were moved. God’s word to them through Peter was like a double edged sword. It was filled with the Holy Spirit and power. They could only feel as if they were the ones who had condemned and crucified Jesus. They felt they were the ones who were responsible for Jesus’ death. They felt helpless and asked Peter and the other disciples, “Brothers, what shall we do?”


            How did Peter help this crowd? Let’s read verse 38, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sin and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Repentance is the one most important thing we need to do to let Jesus be the Lord and Christ of our lives. This message of repentance is not popular. No one likes to hear it or be told that they have to repent. But it is God’s message to sinners like us. Only those who repent can please God. Only those who repent can experience the peace of God’s forgiving mercy. Only those who repent can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.


We all like gifts. Already Christmas is coming soon. My children made a list of the Christmas presents they want as their gifts. All they need to do is to ask. We will decide what they will receive. We can’t promise them everything. We have a limited budget.  The greatest gift however is the Holy Spirit. The cost is free because God paid the cost with the life of Jesus.


            This is the promise that God gives to all who call on the name of the Lord, the Holy Spirit.  Verse 39 says, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”


            What was the second response to Peter’s message? The second response to Peter’s message was the beautiful fellowship among those who came to believe. The fruit of their repentance was their changed lives. We can see this in verses 42-47. In these verses we see four activities that they participated in. They were Bible teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer. The first thing they devoted themselves to was the apostles teaching. This means that they devoted themselves to the study of God’s word. Bible study was their top priority. It made them strong and spiritually alert. It was the foundation for all their other activities.


            We also see that they were full of an unselfish spirit. They had everything in common, shared with each other and gave to those whom were in need, even if it meant selling there possessions to help their needy brother or sister in Christ. They met everyday. Their strength was their unity and constant fellowship. No one complained that there were too many meetings. They met daily and had great joy, ate together in their homes and praised God together. They sang many hymns together and shared testimonies of God’s personal grace. Their hearts were sincere and filled with God’s grace.


            This fellowship of the early church set a precedence of the churches to come. It became a model example for the future of God’s people. In addition to this, God used them as a witness to those around them. I am sure many outsiders were curious as to what was going on. They wanted to know where all that singing was coming from and all the laughter meant. They smelled good food and wandered close to the homes of the believers where believers could witness to them and feed them. According to verse 42b, God added to the number daily of those being saved. This was indeed the work of the Holy Spirit which brought these spiritually hungry and thirsty people to Christ.


            However, this was all done because God had made Jesus both Lord and Christ. The Lord Jesus was reigning in the hearts of these believers who had repented and who had experienced the forgiveness of sins. Jesus was Lord in their lives and Christ in their hearts. They could live sacrificially and joyfully.


            We can only be like this first church when we let Jesus be both Lord and Christ in our hearts and life. Our lives can be witnesses like Peter and like this first church when we come before God with a broken hearts and acknowledge that we were responsible in crucifying Jesus on the cross. I pray that the God who raised Jesus from the dead, the risen Lord and Christ may rule your hearts so that you may be bold witnesses like Peter and that your lives may exemplify the power of the Holy Spirit.