Today we are continuing our look at Peter’s sermon in Acts 2. The passage can be read here.
A few years ago I took a funeral. Family and friends had gathered to pay their respects and some had travelled quite a distance. As I was chatting to an elderly lady after the service, it turned out the lady lived not far away from some friends of our church. When someone mentioned the church where our friends were in fellowship, the lady said instantly; ‘oh no I could never go there, they’re all happy clappy.’ Well as my grandson Jake would say; ‘everybody’s different’, there are many styles of worship so who am I to judge someone if they prefer a traditional setting. As it turned out, this lady was an atheist and hadn’t been to a church for years, so it struck me as strange that she still wanted a certain style of worship even if she didn’t ever intend to make an appearance. I’ve heard it since from folk who do not attend church, they complain about changes, that contemporary songs are sung and not hymns, and that people dress in casual clothes. It’s as if the church is obligated to remain frozen in time like Miss Havisham in a scene from Great Expectations. People do not like change.
Peter knew that the claims he had made regarding the resurrection were shocking, he knew that he and the others were eye witnesses and that the resurrection changed everything but before he went any further he answered a crucial question; what does it say in the scriptures?
Peter quoted two Psalms in this section of the sermon; Psalms 16 and 110. Psalm 16 presented the Rabbis of the day with a problem. It was easy to see verses 8-9 and 11 of the Psalm as passages that speak of David (Acts 2:25-26, and 28), he was a King loved by the Lord, but verse 10 (Acts 2:27) was a lot more difficult. David could not have been speaking of himself since he did die and his tomb in Jerusalem proved his body had seen decay. David must have been prophesying about someone else and like many other Psalms, this one must be referring to Jesus. Peter then made his bold claim; ‘we are all witnesses of the fact’. Note the word ‘fact’ there was no going back for Peter, he knew Christ had risen.
We have come across Psalm 110 before. Jesus quoted it in Luke 20:41-44. Jesus considered the Psalm to be about himself and Peter clearly had taken note. Jesus was both David’s descendant and his Lord. It makes the point that Jesus is exalted.
The Holy Spirit had revealed to Peter and the other believers just how amazing Jesus is. He is the one who was crucified; who died in the place of sinners, who was despised and rejected and who bore God’s terrible judgement instead of us. He is the Lord; one who had completed the work he set out to do, one who has received God’s approval demonstrated with the resurrection. He is the Christ; the anointed one, the Messiah, the one promised many hundreds of years earlier. Jesus is the answer – now what’s the question?
The greatest day in history
Death is beaten, You have rescued me
Sing it out, Jesus is alive
The empty cross, the empty grave
Life eternal, You have won the day
Shout it out, Jesus is alive
He’s alive (Happy Day – Tim Hughes and Ben Cantelon)