Summary: He was dellivered over by God, nailed to a cross by godless hands, raised up by the Father, firstborn of many brethren.
"...this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.”
It is difficult to imagine any thinking Christian coming to the second chapter of Acts after a reading of any one or all of the gospels, not being astounded by the change in the Apostle Peter.
In the gospels we witness a man who, almost every time he opens his mouth, demonstrates profound cluelessness.
Even at Mount Hermon where he so eloquently declares Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, he turns around moments later and blows it by once more manifesting his ignorance of the Christ’s true mission.
We won’t touch on his failure during the Lord’s passion; we would have failed too – we did indeed fail Him.
But even at the very end of the gospels Peter is still in confusion and inner turmoil.
So when we come to this chapter and see that Luke is writing of events little more than a month after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and when we read this eloquent first sermon of the new church, we are introduced to a new Peter in terms that can only be explained as Holy Spirit baptism and divine inspiration.
Of course, we should have seen it coming if we were paying any attention at all to the words of Jesus when He said, “…when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32) and His threefold exhortation to Peter to feed His sheep there at the end of John.
Why are we so quick to see ourselves and others through our own eyes and according to the circumstances of the moment and not through the eyes of the One who knows them and us more intimately than we ever could?
We see a Christian do something un-Christ-like and want to criticize them; maybe even shut them out of fellowship, and He sees them in the process of the development of their faith. While we’re phoo-phooing He’s sanctifying.
Can you imagine Peter before a pulpit search committee today?
“Well, Mr. Peter, you can deliver a powerful sermon and you have a very commanding and charismatic personality. But the bottom line is, you denied Christ and let Him be crucified without lifting a hand to help Him. We’re sorry but your past actions disqualify you from ever pastoring a church”.
“But the Lord forgave me and commissioned me to feed His sheep!”
“Well, you can help set up tables and cook for fellowship dinners…you just can’t be in leadership”.
“But the Lord called me!” “Sorry, that’s just not good enough”.
Quite frankly, we should be equally astounded when we look back on our own lives and remind ourselves where we’ve come from. Because the same Holy Spirit who wrought such an amazing transformation in Peter has done so in the life of anyone to whom He has given life and just by virtue of the fact that it is the rebirth from above that Jesus told Nicodemus about it is an utterly new and astounding thing, whoever the recipient is.
Well, fortunately for Peter and for all of us, the Lord overrides the pettiness of men, and just 50 days after the crucifixion He fills Peter with the Holy Spirit and fire and Peter preaches a sermon that saves 3000 people.
A MAN DELIVERED OVER
I want to focus on just these two verses today because I want us to see that from the beginning, God was readying Peter to be the first to reveal a plan that had been determined in eternity past. I want us to see how magnificently Peter unveils the will and foreknowledge of God while not letting men off the hook for their culpability in recent events.
First notice that he says “…this Man…” I’m so glad he said that. Not that there aren’t plenty of passages in scripture to show the agnostics and the New Age people that Jesus had a body and was not some cosmic projection; some spirit fooling us all with a light show. But here Peter is about to talk about a physical death and a bodily resurrection and he undeniably asserts that it is a Man who has gone to the cross.
And it means much more than just ammunition to use against the heretics. This Jesus of Nazareth was the God of eternity walking in human flesh. He became identified with us in every way apart from sin so that when He fulfilled all righteousness and entered back into His glory with the Father He could stand as our Advocate, our perfected High Priest, interceding for us before the Throne.