Summary: This is based on Peter’s first sermon in Acts 2, and reveals the evidence and arguments that prove Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. It is an expository sermon. Power Point is available, just e-mail me.
The Case for Christ
by Scott R. Bayles, preacher
Church of Christ, Freeport, Illinois
One day, a handful of Greek men approached Phillip and said, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” (John 12:21). Seeing Jesus has been on the minds of spiritual seekers ever since. Jesus is the world’s preeminent character. We date our letters, our birth certificates, our checks, and everything else from the year of His birth. The greatest event in human history was the coming of Jesus into this world. The greatest words ever spoken were His words. The greatest deeds ever done were accomplished by His hands. The greatest gift ever offered was His blood at Calvary. Whatever progress the human race, especially in Western society, has made has been due to His influence. Jesus stands alone in all of history.
The would-be world conqueror, Napoleon Bonaparte, once said, “I search in vain in history to find anyone similar to Jesus Christ, or anything which can approach His gospel. Neither history, nor humanity, nor the ages, nor nature offer me anything which I am able to compare Him or to explain it. Here everything is extraordinary.”
Of course, to claim that Jesus was the greatest or most influential man to ever live is on thing. To claim that He was and is God Himself, that’s quite another. How do we know that Jesus really was who He claimed to be? How do we know that the carpenter from Nazareth is the God through whom all the universe was crafted?
I have encountered so many people who don’t believe in Jesus. What amazes me is that some people still doubt whether Jesus ever lived—they think that the stories of His life fall into the same category as fairy tales and legends. Of course, no serious student of history questions Jesus’ existence. In addition to the New Testament, 39 ancient sources such as Pliny, Josephus, Tacitus, and the Jewish Talmud, all refer to the life of Jesus, His teachings, crucifixion and sometimes His resurrection. Ignatius, who was a pupil of the apostle John and martyred for his faith in Jesus, wrote about Jesus just 70 years after the crucifixion, saying, “He was condemned: He was crucified in reality, and not in appearance, not in imagination, not in deceit. He really died, and was buried, and rose from the dead.”
In reality, there is more attestation or evidence for the life of Jesus Christ than there is for the life of Julius Caesar. But believing in Jesus means much more than simply believing that He existed. Jesus once asked His disciples, “Who are the people saying I am?” (Matthew 16:13 TLB). They gave a variety of answers but Peter capped the discussion by saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16 NKJV).
Many months later, Peter would back up his claim as he preached the first recorded message after Jesus’ death and resurrection to a standing-room-only crowd on the day of Pentecost—50 days after the resurrection. As Peter preached, he was building a case. And as he reached the climax of his message that day, he announced: “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Christ!” (Acts 2:36 NLT). The word Christ was the Greek word for Messiah.
It’s important to understand that the words “Christ” and “Jesus” had two different meanings to Peter’s audience. The revelation that Jesus is the Christ/Messiah changed the lives of many of his listeners, and they would never be the same. But let’s back up a step. In this sermon, Peter offers three pieces evidence in his case for Christ—evidence that confirms beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The first item that Peter enters into evidence is the miracles of Jesus.
• THE MIRACLES OF JESUS
Peter began his morning message, saying, “People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know” (Acts 2:22 NLT). Miracles, wonders, and signs are three words the New Testament often uses to refer to the same thing. The word “miracle” refers to what was done; the word “wonder” refers to the effect a miracle had on people; and the term “sign” indicated the purpose of the miracle. These miracles were signs that God was with those who did them.
In the book of John, we read of seven great miracles that Jesus performed, beginning with the changing of water into wine and ending with the raising of Lazarus from the dead. The four Gospels together record more than three dozen specific miracles that Jesus of Nazareth performed during His ministry. Peter’s audience was well aware of these acts of divine power. The deeds Jesus did had not been done in a dark corner somewhere; the fact He had performed mighty miracles was common knowledge. The Pharisees had accused Jesus of performing miracles by the power of Beelzebul, but they could not deny that He had performed them. The Talmud, a Jewish book of history and law, claims that Jesus was a sorcerer and he performed miracles through the dark arts. But the fact that they record this validates that Jesus really did perform the miracles. The Talmud actually provides accidental corroboration for the Bible’s claims.