Today we are going to be looking at Acts chapter 2, verses 14-41.
Let me ask you a question thought before I begin. Why are you here? No, really, lets be honest with ourselves here. There are all kinds of reasons why people come to church on Easter, or really any Sunday. Many come because they feel guilty, and they have this nagging sense that if they show up to a church on Easter Sunday that their mother will somehow be happier with them, even if it is from the grave. Some may come out of tradition. Some may come because they were drug here by someone else. My kids may fall into that category. Let me give you permission to do something really quick. think for a second and be totally honest with yourself, because God knows, write down why you are here… Take a minute, and do that.
OK, so there are a number of things in this passage that we need to hear this Easter Morning. I am not saying that you want to hear them, or even came here to hear them, but we all, just like the people in this story, need to hear them. They are as follows: 1. God had a plan from the beginning. 2. You Killed Jesus. and 3. God raised Him from the Dead.
God had a plan from the beginning. Look for a minute at verse 23, it says that Jesus was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” This is a powerful statement in itself. It wasn’t just the general plan of God, but the definite plan of God. This plan that He had set in motion from eternity past to ransom a people for himself and make sinners righteous, included the offering up of HIs own son to be killed. Crucified, tortured, tormented, scorned, abused, mocked, and mistreated. If you were here for our Good Friday service, you would have heard how God set His plan in motion, and began to reveal it throughout the Old Testament to His people. establishing the sacrificial system, and many other shadows, that would come before Christ. Peter even gives us examples of this in his own sermon in this text, quoting the prophet Joel, finishing with the statement that “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” He then quotes David, and even interprets his words for us in Verse 29… You know, when tragedy happens in our time, many people, especially those in the media and in authority will go down the road of asking, “how can we prevent this from happening again?” I think this is a great question, and the conversation os well worth having, but the reason we have that conversation after the fact is because what just happened was something that had not happened before, or maybe it had not happened in that way before. It caught us off guard, threw us a curve. No co-pilot had ever used a plane to commit suicide before taking the lives of 150 people with him. Before that, if you had begun the conversation of implementing rules about having two crew members in the cockpit at all times, it would have seem ridiculous. and certainly would not have made nearly as much sense as it does after what happened last week. That is the difference between us and God, we are finite in our understanding and knowlwdge, and He is infinite, outside of time, and He is sovereign. Most importantly, He has had a plan from the beginning for the problem of Sin.
You Killed Jesus. now, I know that this may seem to be an insensitive way to put this, but since Peter says is this way, I will too. Look again at verse 23…Ok, so here is the thing that really gets people uptight. If God is working out a plan for the redemption of the world, and the plan involves the murder of His own son, why aren’t we blaming God for His murder? I will grant you, that is a logical question. That fact of the matter is this, if you believe as I do in the total depravity of Man, there is only one thing that would ever happen to Jesus if He was as it says, “Delivered up” to these “lawless men”. Now this concept is increasingly difficult to understand in our day and age with everyone blaming everyone else for their actions. Mothers getting blamed for their children’s sin, and even society being blamed for people’s actions. The fact remains though, at the end of the day, there is no one you can blame for your sin, but you. Your sin is yours. It is not just your actions, but your very nature, your actions only reveal the nature inside of you. So, while God’s plan was to deliver Jesus over to the people who would ultimately crucify Him, the ones who are morally responsible for the murder of Jesus are those who actually caused His death. Now, you may be saying, “How can I be morally responsible for Christ’s death? Clearly, I was not there!” Well, here is the thing, part of God’s definite plan for salvation was not only the death of His son Jesus, but also the atonement that His death brought about. You see, she Christ was placed on the cross, he was doing something more than dying, He was taking the place of those who could not, and would not die for their own sins. The reality is that God is a Holy God, and He cannot dwell with unholiness. Now, this would make Him sound pretty awful, if it weren’t for the fact that He loves His people and wants a relationship with them. So, what does He do? He makes a way for us to be with him. And that way involves this amazing thing that takes place. When Jesus is killed, he takes upon Himself the punishment that your sins deserve, and He gives you, the righteousness that He earned. This imputed righteousness and substitutionary atonement are the jewels on the center of the crown of the Gospel. Without them, we would be without Hope. So, in a way to say that You killed Jesus can be a relief, because it also recognizes that for those who are in Christ, our moral responsibility was paid for on the cross. If you are not in Christ though, you still bear the weight of your own sin, and are morally responsible for it.
God Raised Him From Death: Look for a second at verse 24. It says that, “God Raised him Up” something that he says again in 32, and in a way in 36. All three times he is speaking of God raising Jesus from the dead, and he explains in verse 24 that it was impossible for Him to be held by death. Why is that? Because in His death, He absorbed all the wrath that was due to us, which is what keeps people in the pangs of death who are not in Christ is that they are receiving the punishment that is due their sin and rebellion. Now, before you go anywhere with that thought, let me suggest something to you. Many people make God in their own image, and many people make heaven and Hell in the image of whatever their tastes are. Let me simplify this for you. If God created us to be in a relationship with Him, and his atoning work brings about a restored relationship with Him, if heaven is anything, the foundation of it is an eternal communion of relationship with the almighty God. Now, whatever else follows that is just gravy. So, if that is true then the beginning of the punishment that sinners deserve is simply a continued absence of a relationship with the creator because at their core, they do not want that relationship, so in essence they get exactly what they want, only they don’t realize it is to their everlasting torment. As Augustine said, “My should is restless, until it finds rest in You.” The punishment that I speak of, whatever else follows, it begins with an unquenched restlessness.
So, here we are, at the end of my little Easter sermon. Hopefully you understand more of why Christ’s death and resurrection matters. Now I am going to do something I dont always do when I pose a questions to begin my sermons. I am going to answer it for me.
Why am I here? Frankly, I am here because I believe God had a plan, from the beginning that included sending His son to Earth, and delivering Him up to sinful and lawless men to be killed. I believe that my actions caused Jesus to suffer and die. Frankly, I am reminded of it more often than I care to admit. I see it in the restlessness that causes me to look at the news, or check Facebook more than I read my Bible. I see it in the selfishness I display when I snap at my kids instead of engaging them, and caring for them. I see it when I fear what people think of me more than I listen to the truth of who I am in Christ. I feel it when I am weak from operating on my own strength instead of resting in His arms. I feel it when I have an impure thought, instead of being satisfied in the Lord’s provision. I see it when I am stressed and go to food before I eat the bread of the Word. I see it every day. I killed Jesus. My sin was laid upon Him, my guilt was placed on Him. The punishment that I deserved was on His shoulders. I deserved to have the nails thrust into my hands and feet, I deserved the torment and the ridicule. I deserve the hatred and the scourging. I deserved the shame and the abandonment. It was mine, it was earned by me. I feel that so often. I killed Jesus. I’m here because I need to be reminded that the death that He died, that I caused, that I deserved, He took it and conquered it. He rose, he was raised by God. The punishment was paid in full, secured by the resurrection of Jesus, which said without a doubt that death could not hold Him, and so when I place my trust in Him, I too will rise with Him, I too will share in His reward, i too will share in His victory. Not because of my own good deeds, but because of all that He did on my behalf.
Now, is there anyone asking the question that the crowd asked Peter? “What shall we do?” Are you cut to the heart as these people were? Are you in the place of realizing that you are responsible for Christ’s death, and you are feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit? if that is you, let me give you an opportunity to do as it says 3000 souls did that day and repent, renounce your sin, and turn to Jesus’ atoning work, and place your trust only in Him. He concurred death, so that you can too. If that is yo and you would like to respond to His prompting, please do so during this next song that we sing…