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The Ongoing Meaning of Jesus

For the next several Sundays we will be looking at what meaning Jesus has for today.  In a world that loves to take things from the past and give them whatever meaning it wants, we need to challenge ourselves.  Am I satisfied using Jesus for the meaning I want or do I want to know the True meaning God intended for him to have in my life?  People who have used Jesus for their own personal meaning over the years can grow tired and walk away from Jesus as if he has no meaning for today.  But this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Today we will look at Acts 2:22-32, as Peter explains to the people of Jerusalem what was going on.  Jesus had been crucified around 40 days earlier.  In that sense many people had moved on.  “Well, he must not have been the messiah.”  However, there were rumors of a “resurrection.”  But in reality Jesus had ceased to have any meaning.  He was a possibility that proved false.  “Let’s move on.”  It is in this environment that the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples.  As they walk out onto the streets of Jerusalem rejoicing and praising God, the crowd notices that they are speaking in many languages that is impossible.  In fact they assume the people are merely drunk and out of their mind.  But in this environment, Peter speaks to the crowd.  Let’s look at what he says.

Peter Reminds Them About Jesus

Peter begins by reminding the crowd that the recent life of Jesus was one that was spectacular.  He says that Jesus was attested by God.  This literally means that Jesus was “exhibited” or “pointed out” by God.  The life of Jesus was highlighted with things that could not be overlooked.  God’s hand and power was clearly evident in it.  Peter mentions the miracles (literally the powerful actions), the wonders (that which causes you to stop and look), and signs (activity that points to something.  Jesus fed 1,000’s of people with just one lunch.  Jesus had healed people who had been blind, mute, or lame for long periods of times, even from birth.  These were not charades.  These were events that left people with their mouths open saying, “who is this?”  But Jesus was not just “wowing” the crowd.  The miracles had a purpose.  They pointed to something.  When Jesus fed the crowds out in the wilderness it was pointing back to how God fed Israel in the wilderness with Moses.  It was a Sign that was making them remember the power of God in Israel’s past.  They were supposed to make the connection.  Even the cross itself was a sign that was pointing back to the sacrifices of the Old Testament, especially the near sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham.  So with so much evidence of God’s hand of Jesus, how could he be killed?

Peter says that God had given Jesus into the hands of Israel.  This is a term that is used when we turn someone in to the authorities.  Yes Jesus was a gift, but he was also delivered into the hands of the authorities.  They had no power to take his life from him.  But God allowed them to exercise such power.  Why?  He had a “determined purpose.”  Jesus was to be his sacrifice for the sins of mankind.  He was to be the means of taking away the sins of sinners.  Also, Peter mentions God’s foreknowledge.  God knew that Israel would become so captive to sin that even though they were given truth, in the Law, they would be so corrupt that they would kill God if they could.  In Jesus they could.  So the death of Jesus was not proof that he wasn’t the messiah.  Rather, it was proof that God was doing something different with the messiah than they thought.

Peter then reminds them that the execution of Jesus was done unlawfully.  Now there was a trial and, even though it stretched the bounds of the law, it had the appearance of being lawful.  However, the truth was that this was an unlawful execution.  Throughout history man has operated within the boundaries of the law to do “unlawful” things.  These things are wrong by the laws of God, but also by the spirit of the law.  When we use the law to hurt others we are abusing the law and using it lawlessly.  So this is not a “legal” point in the courts of men.  It was a legal point in the courts of God.  They were lawless and guilty before God whether they “felt” guilty or not.  They did this over the top of God’s witness. 

It Is Impossible For Jesus To Remain Dead

Peter, in verses 24 and following, moves to the resurrection.  Jesus was raised from the dead because it was impossible for death to hold him.  The pictures are beautiful.  He was “loosed” from the birth pangs of death.  This reminds us of how Lazarus was loosed from the grave clothes that held him.  But here Jesus is having the “pains” of death unwrapped off of him.  It has been pointed out that for Jesus the tomb became the womb of the resurrected life to which he was going to be raised up.

Why is it impossible?  Peter answers that by quoting from Psalm 16:8-11.  However, if I were to sum it up, I would say that it was because of the relationship that Jesus had with the Father.  David’s close relationship with God brought him to a point where he not only realized that God would not leave him in the grave, but that God would not let the coming Messiah even see corruption, which is a clear reference to physical decay.   Jesus as the eternal Word of God had been in relationship with the Father before the worlds were ever created.  It was impossible for him to be “extinguished” by the mere death of his humanity upon a cross.  God would not let his promises to David go unfulfilled and He would not completely turn away from His Son.

In fact Peter states that the disciples were witnesses of these things.  Not just the 11 plus Matthias, but over 500 followers of Jesus saw him at one time; along with his multiple appearances to many different groups at many different times.  Peter and the other believers were witnesses of the fact that Jesus was resurrected and alive.  Though Jerusalem had moved on past Jesus, Jesus was not done with them.

Final Thoughts

The modern world has relegated Jesus to a thing of the past that is dead and gone.  Even many of those who do “believe” in Jesus, do so without believing that anything in the Bible was literally true.  They look to it as an inspiring story for what I want to do today.  But Jesus didn’t die to just be your inspiration.  It is impossible for Jesus to remain irrelevant to the politics and entertainments of this world.  Why? Jesus cannot remain irrelevant forever, precisely because he is alive and sitting at the right hand of the Father, awaiting the command to come and judge the nations of the world.  Are you ready?  Jesus must not continue to be irrelevant in your life, precisely because if he does then you will have to face God with the guilt of your rebellion against Him hanging over your head.  He is not relevant because you have a good feeling about him.  He is relevant because He is The Truth, The Way, and the only one who can give you Life.  Don’t wait another day without asking Jesus to forgive you of your sins and taking your place in his kingdom of hearts by following his word.


Ongoing Meaning audio