Proof That Jesus Is Messiah & Lord

Acts of the Holy Spirit Through the Apostles  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  35:05
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[Subtitle - The First Christian Sermon, Part Two]
INTRO: Jesus does what he says he will do. He has power and authority to accomplish it. He takes broken sinners and restores them to God.
Chief among his chosen Apostles was a handful of fishermen, whom he told to leave their nets behind in the Lake of Gennesaret, and to follow him and he would make them fishers of men. No doubt they didn’t know at first what that meant.
If Jesus can take Peter, the volatile disciple with misplaced passion and a foot-shaped mouth, and make him firm as a rock, who clearly and courageously preaches that Jesus is the Christ, then surely he can do the same with the likes of you and me.
How can God accomplish such a thing through Jesus?
Let’s listen to Peter preaching Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit whom God has given to indwell his people.
Acts 2:22–36 ESV
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, “ ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all 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 yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” ’ Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Review: In this section of Acts 2, where Peter has just quoted prophecy from Joel to explain what people are seeing and hearing (v. 33), he seems to be saying that vv. 17&18 are being fulfilled before their very eyes. We also looked at other examples from Acts to see how that continues to be a reflection of the early days of the church: not only prophets or great leaders are filled with the Spirit for a particular purpose as in the former days, but the age has now come where the Spirit is poured out on all different kinds of people—in fact, whomever calls on the name of the Lord to be saved (v. 21 & v. 38).
Vv. 18-19, though, seem to be yet future because they relate to what takes place shortly “before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.” The day of the Lord, when Christ returns, means judgment for those who have not obeyed God through faith, but for those who are being saved by grace through faith, that judgment will not fall on them—not because of any merit of their own, but only because of the righteousness of Christ exchanged for their sin.
V. 21 then is a summary statement about the intervening time period that began with “the last days” that have now arrived but is still “before the day of the Lord comes.”
But as we mentioned last week, Peter’s sermon pivots to show that all of this is only made possible because of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth.
As we’re following Peter’s train of thought, vv. 21-22 forms a seamless…

Sermon Transition - The Lord to Call Upon for Salvation (vv. 21-22)

Again, Peter ends his quote of Joel with…
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
V. 22 then transitions from Joel to Jesus, with the connection being “the Lord” in v. 21. For our understanding, this transition answers the question, ‘Who is the Lord to call upon in order to obtain salvation?’
Consider the implications of where Peter is going with this as he will continue his explanation: If the name of the Lord is Jehovah God (the God of Israel and the one true God), and if Jesus is to be equated with that same Lord, then Jesus is deity. He is God.
Here’s just a single OT example that reflects this use of the phrase to mean God. The first one that pops into my head: The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe (Prov. 18:10).
What Peter really begins to do here from this transition, is to prove that Jesus is clearly both the promised Messiah and the Lord of all—the only name upon whom anyone can call to be saved from the judgment that is to come.
The first clear evidence is…

Jesus’ Power - Proof of Appointment by God (v. 22)

Peter tells his Jewish audience there in Jerusalem: You can’t deny the unique power of God made manifest in Jesus of Nazareth: unbelievably miraculous things, “mighty works and wonders and signs,” that nobody had ever done before in this manner, or has ever done since.
Some of the religious leaders had foolishly tried to argue that they were happening by Satan’s power instead of God’s, but they couldn’t argue the results. “You yourselves know,” Peter says, that Jesus was doing things no one else could do.
And Peter confirms that this was clearly God attesting/proving/showing forth that Jesus was from him (displayed to the public, for all to see). God did things through him in our midst that can have no other explanation: Jesus is God’s Messiah sent to us.
So Jesus’ power is the first proof that he was appointed by God to be, as he will say in his conclusion at v. 36, both Lord and Christ.
Next, Peter goes on t0 reveal that Christ’s death was not an anomaly or a thwarting of God’s purpose for him, but in fact proves both God’s plan and their problem in rejecting him.

Christ’s Death - Proof of God’s Plan & Your Problem (v. 23)

This one (referring to Jesus) is the one you crucified and killed (that’s a hendiadys: two words joined by ‘and’ that refer to essentially the same thing… used for emphasis).
Do you think there is any doubt that nearly everyone is well aware of what took place less than two months earlier when the Jewish religious leaders stirred up the crowds to push for Jesus’ crucifixion, which then the Romans carried out, even though Pilate knew they had no legal reason whatsoever. We heard the repeated conclusion: this man has done nothing wrong… certainly nothing to warrant his execution.
There are two really important points that Peter makes here, though, about this execution of the Messiah: Jesus’ death was according to God’s plan, AND you are accountable for your role in it.
So no one might be confused about why God would allow such a thing, Peter explains that Jesus’ death was in fact “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” God had sovereignly decreed in eternity past, in his plan for all things, that this was how he would resolve the problem of man’s sin—our rebellious idolatry and waywardness, putting ourselves and other things in the place that only God deserves. But it was God’s plan that Jesus would live a sinless life, unlike Adam and Israel and every one of us, in perfect obedience to God’s will, and that he would suffer and die as a perfect substitute for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2), meaning for persons of every people group in the whole world, and not for Jews only. That is why Peter can say in v. 39 that… “the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
But back in v. 23… Jesus death was in fact proof that God was fulfilling his perfect plan. However, Peter says, God’s sovereignty does not negate your responsibility for rejecting the Messiah. “You crucified and killed” him.
The truth of God’s sovereignty and our responsibility is indeed complex for our finite minds to grapple with, but we dare not try to shape God into our limited understanding rather than accepting how he describes himself and his work. The best explanation we can offer is that God’s decree can be the ultimate cause for what transpires while still using secondary causes. Take prayer as an example. God will do what God knows is best, but he is pleased, as he sees fit, to use the secondary cause of the prayers of his people. And yet our prayer in no way manipulates the primary cause of God’s own perfect will and character.
If that still leaves you scratching your head to some degree, you’re in good company with the people of God. But we are also the people whom God has miraculously made his own, and we take him at his word. We affirm that he knows better than we do, and that he has communicated reality to us in a way that, even if we don’t understand it, we can still obey him.
God is sovereign over everything, the cosmos and world events and human hearts, and yet humans remain responsible for their evil deeds. Everyone whom God calls to himself will come, yet he does so through a secondary cause—by transforming our hearts so that we will respond appropriately to Jesus.
So God proved that Jesus was his Anointed One through miraculous works, and Jesus’ death was further proof of God enacting his definite plan. Parenthesis: his death is still your responsibility.
And now the biggest chunk of Peter’s sermon, and the heart of it, is that this Jesus you killed didn’t stay dead. “God raised him up” (v. 24), “and of that we are witnesses” (v. 32). Vv. 24-32 are explanation and implication of Christ’s resurrection.

The Resurrection - Proof of God Fulfilling His Promise & Accomplishing His Purpose (vv. 24-32)

In the resurrection we see more of God fulfilling OT promise about the Messiah. And the fulfillment of that prophecy further shows that his death and resurrection was in God’s purpose.
So God raised him up (v. 24), releasing/loosing Jesus from the agony of death (the sense here is undoing/reversing that which had taken place)… and then comes an interesting statement: because it wasn’t possible for death to maintain a hold on him.
Not just what seems impossible but then is accomplished. That would be from the side of rising from the dead… which seems impossible, “but nothing will be impossible with God.” - No, this mission impossible is actually impossible bc death could not hold the divine Son of God in its grasp. It was not possible. Impossible bc of who he is (human death can’t hold down the Lord of the universe), and impossible bc of the Divine plan to fulfill his promise and accomplish his purpose in Christ Jesus.
So that’s where quoting this prophecy comes in (beginning in v 25). It’s from a Psalm of David, which we have numbered in our Bibles as Psalm 16. The prophecy in it is not about David, but Christ, Peter explains. Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise and purpose of that prophecy.
Peter sets up the quote by stating that David in fact says this about “him”—Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, whom you killed. Although the kicker in the quote comes at v. 27 about the resurrection, which Peter will develop further, he begins earlier in the poem to set up that it is in fact “the Lord” whom David has set before him, whom David saw, who speaks the words of v. 27 prophetically through David about his future resurrection.
Following the quote, Peter develops the logic. - David died. His body stayed dead. Nobody says otherwise (bc we haven’t reached the final resurrection) [read v. 29].
So this was indeed a prophecy that fulfilled God’s promise to David (that God would set one of his descendants on his throne. Again, Jesus is that Messiah) [read v. 30].
And as we already pointed out, the particular part in v. 27 was not about David at all but the Christ, who is Jesus [read v. 31]. - Hades is the NT equivalent of the grave in the OT, or Sheol. It can be used to identify hell (as contrasted to heaven, Matt. 11:23), but here it has the more common meaning of the general place of the dead. - The resurrection means that Jesus didn’t stay in the place of the dead, and therefore even his physical flesh didn’t remain there long enough to decay. Jesus is that Holy One. Death couldn’t hold him.
Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to David. He is the Messiah. And it was God’s purpose, Peter shows, for this Messiah to die and rise again.
V. 32 reiterates this point, “This Jesus God raised up,” and then shifts focus to the disciples being eye-witnesses who testify to the fact that Jesus appeared to them after he rose from the grave. And that brings Peter back to the original question the people had about what was going on with all these Galileans suddenly praising God in their native tongues (of the Jews gathered in Jerusalem from various parts of the known world).

The Promised Spirit - Pouring Out Proof of the Risen Lord (vv. 32-33)

(v. 32b) We are witnesses. We saw the risen Christ. - And to help drive home the proof that we witnessed the risen Jesus, he has v. 33 poured out, by the power of the Holy Spirit, what you are seeing and hearing.
And the coming of the Spirit in this way is eschatological fulfillment of that promise in Joel Peter started with, as we discussed last week. We are living in the last days. You need to be ready before the day of the Lord comes.
The point? The pouring out of the Spirit is not only the answer to your question about how this is happening, it is further proof that Jesus is risen. We are eyewitness of the fact.
Continuing these proofs, we stay in v. 33 to see the first of the final two: “Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God.” Christ’s…

Exaltation & Ascension - Proof of His Messianic Fulfillment & Rightful Position as Lord (vv. 33-35)

Jesus fulfilled everything that God purposed for him to do in his first coming, so he is now seated, having completed that task. And who else can be seated at the right hand of majesty on high, other than one who is in his rightful position?
Just so, Peter quotes David again in vv. 34&35 to show once more that not even David could claim such a high place. [reread 34-35] Instead, David spoke prophetically again in Psalm 110:1 of the Lord Jesus being the one whom they literally witnessed ascending into heaven, and who sits at the right hand of Majesty as the exalted Lord over all God’s enemies.
Peter pulls all these proofs together to conclude:
Acts 2:36 ESV
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Here’s how he wraps up his sermon. All of this is…

Sermon Conclusion - Conclusive Evidence That Jesus Is Both Lord & Christ (v. 36)

(He is the promised Messiah, & he is the Divine Lord)
And he comes again back to “you”… Whom you crucified —> You saw proof of his unique power, but you killed him anyways. God has shown him to be the fulfillment of God’s promise and purpose… through his death & resurrection. We are witnesses to that resurrection, and you’re seeing and hearing proof of it right now, through the power of the Holy Spirit he gave us. God has exalted Jesus, and he has ascended to his rightful position, this one whom you rejected and put to death.
The audience is obviously left wondering, what does this mean for us?
You too should be asking… ‘What does this mean for us?’ You have two options: Wait to be judged by this Lord, or… Call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved.
Believers, I wish that I could be a fly on the wall in each small group and family discussion about this text. Even though this is a sermon preached to those who still need to respond to Jesus, I’d love to hear the ways in which you find application for your own heart and life.
Here’s just one application I thought of for us to reflect on about this passage: If God can give Peter boldness and clarity, surely he will do the same for you and me as we seek to obey him in sharing Jesus with others.
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