Summary: 1) Why Death was Conquered (Acts 10:34-35), 2) Who Conquered Death (Acts 10:36-38) 3) How Death was Conquered (Acts 10:39-43).
In our lives we tend to follow people of interest. We find particular people fascinating in their struggle over adversity, persistence in the face of opposition, and the accomplishments they achieved along the way. When they die, like many have in recent days, we consider their accomplishments, and their legacy. There are some who leave an example to emulate and others who accomplished something so unusual, that we wonder if anyone will every come that can do what they did.
Jesus Christ was such an individual. Not only did He struggle with great adversity, face opposition from within His own followers, and the public at large but His accomplishments and legacy are such that settle once and for all, the way to Heaven. He was able to do this because He perfectly fulfilled the Father's will, lived a perfect life without sin, and through His resurrection, conquered Death itself.
Although it is never a subject that we like to talk about, all of us are going to die. The real issue is if we are ready to die and know what lies beyond the grave for us. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is not only a historical fact, but His rising from the dead enables believers in Him to conquer death itself.
In the recounting of Jesus' rising from the dead in Acts 10, the Apostle Peter explains: 1) Why Death was Conquered (Acts 10:34-35), 2) Who Conquered Death (Acts 10:36-38) 3) How Death was Conquered (Acts 10:39-43).
1) Why Death was Conquered (Acts 10:34-35)
Acts 10:34-35 So Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (ESV)
Peter is the speaker here. He is preaching to a group of Gentiles who really have no connection with Israel. This is Peter’s first address to a Gentile audience. (Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, p. 391). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.)
The main individual to whom Peter is preaching is a man by the name of Cornelius. Cornelius was a Roman soldier, an officer in the Roman army, an officer of some significance and some prominence, a man who had great responsibility, a centurion of what was called the Italian battalion. Cornelius really had no Jewish links. He had no Jewish heritage. He was a Gentile. Peter preaches to him the straight forward simple gospel. In so doing he tells us the significance of the resurrection.
The phrase opened his mouth is a colloquial Greek expression marking the speech that follows as important. Looking around at his improbable audience, Peter began by shattering what remained of the barrier separating the two groups with his fresh insight: “Truly/I most certainly understand that God shows no partiality. God is impartial. God is, in the Old English, no respecter of persons. God has no favorites. He is impartial.
• You may be here this morning and say that you're not a religious person. You may have not been here since last Easter or this may be your first time. The issue is not how many times you have come before, the issue is that you are here now and listening to this word. This word is for you right now.
Please turn to 1 Peter 1 (p.1014)
Now what does this all mean? That means initially that God judges everyone the same without respect for who they are or for that matter, what they have accomplished. Or what their social or economic status might be. And that is exactly what we are reminded of in 1 Peter when Peter writes his first epistle, chapter 1 verse 16,
1 Peter 1:16-17 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, (ESV)
• God requires spiritual perfection, absolute holiness, perfect sinlessness. And in verse 17 Peter says, "He judges impartially according to each man's work." There is the issue. God is an impartial judge who has a standard of perfect holiness and measures everybody against that standard, no matter who they are.
No one can escape that reckoning, no sinner can escape that judgment and that justice because of any privilege, any achievement, any accomplishment. Since everyone has failed to reach God's standard of perfection, everyone merits eternal punishment. Since God is an impartial judge, It doesn't matter how many good efforts you've made or how many things you've tried to accomplish in your life or how successful you've been at being nice or kind, it doesn't matter whether you're religious or irreligious, if you come short of the standard of perfection, you're doomed.