Summary: Good news for Easter - God has the final say, and His power works in our life!
Acts 2:22-28 – But God Raised Him
The Resurrection. The heartbeat of the good news of the Gospel. Some would say it’s an afterthought, that the cross was the important thing, and the resurrection was like the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae. I disagree. Jesus’ death and Jesus’ resurrection form the 1-2 punch that defeats the enemy in our lives.
Romans 4:25 says, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” That is, both His death and His resurrected life make us right with God. As well, 1 Corinthians 15:17 says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” And v14 adds that if Christ has not been raised, then my preaching is futile. Rough stuff.
In addition to this, Romans 10:9, which is Paul’s salvation summary, says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” That verse doesn’t even mention the cross. These verses, plus others, lead me to believe that the resurrection is at least as important as the cross.
The death and resurrection were the message of the early church. Judging by the sermons recorded in the book of Acts, they didn’t spend a long time preaching on hell, or how sinful their political leaders were, or how evil the culture was. They focused on Jesus: who He was, what He did, and how His followers should live. Today’s message is an example of this sermon. Let’s begin our passage today: Acts 2:22-23.
So, this is Peter talking. The same Peter who had said that he would never abandon the Lord, but did. This same Peter… preached the very 1st sermon of the Christian church. He talked about Jesus. He said that God publicly endorsed Jesus, and did wonderful things through Him. Miracles of healing, power over nature, and other amazing things… these were demonstrations that God’s hand was upon Him. But God’s plan for Jesus was not all rosy. That plan included pain and suffering. God used and allowed people filled with evil intentions to do horrible things to Jesus. The injustice of it all is overwhelming. It was God’s plan for Jesus to be killed.
Now, though others feel free to say so, I’m not comfortable with saying that every bad thing in your life is because of God’s plan. I cannot say with conviction that everything in life happens for a reason. Unless you call sin in the world a reason. I am uneasy saying that God has planned evil things in your life to happen. But I do know, that what happened to Jesus was not an accident. It was never out of God’s hands, and that much I know about your life too. Even the bad things that happen to you… the pain, the heartaches, the disappointments… I know that God knows, and God cares, and God will bring good out of it if you let Him.
You see, there is a phrase that occurs fairly often in Scripture. That phrase is, “But God…” Very often – not always, but often – that phrase pops up right after something bad. Joseph in the OT, speaking to his brothers who had betrayed him years before said, “You meant it for evil, BUT GOD meant it for good.” 1 Samuel 23 describes Saul hunting David, BUT GOD didn’t let him find him. Psalm 73 says that the writer’s body was failing, BUT GOD gave him strength. In Luke 16, Jesus rebuked people who put on a good religious show, and said, “BUT GOD knows what’s in your hearts.” Ephesians 2 talks about how we were dead in our sins, BUT GOD loved us and saved us. Romans 5:7-8 says that people don’t usually willingly die for other people, BUT GOD showed His love to us by sending Jesus to die for us. 1 Corinthians 10 says that we all get tempted, BUT GOD is faithful and won’t leave us defenseless. In Philippians 2:27, Paul says that Epaphroditus, his co-preacher, almost died, BUT GOD had mercy on him, and let him live.
Over and over and over, BUT GOD means that God has the final say, He has the last word, He brings good from bad, He knows what’s going on, and He is still in control. BUT GOD means that the enemy will not have the last laugh. BUT GOD means that you can trust Him to take care of those who love Him.
So in our scripture today, Peter continues in his sermon: v24. BUT GOD raised Him. Evil was not going to triumph. People with evil intentions and evil hearts were not going to win the day. God had the last word. Death would no longer be the villain. Death had looked like the scariest thing in the world, BUT GOD raised Jesus out of it. So we join in the words of 1 Corinthians 15: “Hey, Death! Yeah you! Not so scary, huh? Death, where’s your victory now? Where’s your sting, huh? You been beaten, huh?” As they say in the younger generation: “Pwnage!” BUT GOD won!