If any of you think my sermons are sometimes very theological and difficult to follow, consider this first sermon of Peter! Of course, if he had homiletics in a modern seminary classroom and was told to keep it simple and work hard on application rather than all that nasty theological detail, it could have been better. I jest, of course!
First, the simple fact that Peter is standing in front of thousands of people in a public place is testimony of a great change of life brought about by the work of the Spirit. Only in this way could a simple fisherman command the attention of multitudes in the very center of the Jewish faith – in Jerusalem, likely in the Temple itself.
Peter first makes it clear that those receiving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit were not drunk – since the first meal of the day in that culture happened at 10:00 in the morning, an hour after these events were occurring … so that suggestion was ludicrous.
What was happening was the fulfillment of the words the prophet Joel had spoken hundreds of years earlier. In the last days (begun on this day and in which we continue to live 2,000 years later) there would be a pouring rain of the Spirit (using an agricultural metaphor) and not simply an occasional shower of the Spirit empowering only certain people in limited instances (as was the pattern in the Old Testament). Now, as the Church is born and this new age of grace abounding is initiated, all who come to God and are united with him are granted the presence of God within them in the form of the Holy Spirit.
Though Peter will twice tell these Jews that they participated in the killing of the Messiah, he also makes it clear that all of this transpired in the deliberate plan and foreknowledge of God. That is so significant to understand. In no way was God surprised or forced into a “Plan B” because the Jews rejected their King and the Kingdom. No, God rather had it all orchestrated so that the salvation of all mankind might be accomplished, leading to the universal proclamation of this saving truth.
David had prophesied this, as Peter again quotes the Old Testament from Psalm 16. There, David – a man with a promise from God that his family would forever reign – speaks in the first person of a protection from death and decay. And Peter says that David could not be talking of himself, because David had died and everyone knew of his tomb. He must be talking prophetically of someone from his family lineage – of Jesus, who was witnessed to have been crucified, risen again, and ascended to heaven.
Upon hearing this, the multitudes in a panic understand that they have missed their Messiah … what are they now to do? And the message is the timeless answer of repentance before God for forgiveness of sins. This message was for them, for their children’s generation, and in fact for ALL people near and far. About 3,000 responded that day!
The timeless nature of the message is seen in the appeal that they should repent and thereby save themselves from their corrupt (literally “crooked”) generation. So, given events in our country in recent days where everything righteous and evil seems upside-down and backwards, do we not live in a crooked time? The remedy is the same – to trust in God’s provision of life through the work of Jesus Christ … and to be his ambassadors to make that message known to a lost and messed-up world.
Peter Addresses the Crowd
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.25 David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, 27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.