Scripture: Acts 2:22-36
Many Christians do not grasp the significance of the death of JESUS and for that reason they cannot celebrate Easter in a big way. One cannot fully celebrate the resurrection of JESUS without first embracing the darkness, pain, suffering, and bloody mess of Good Friday. One will not embrace the severity of Good Friday without recognizing their part in what JESUS experienced during the Week of Passion.
Remember the somber Negro Spiritual, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” Yes, we were all there! The essence of what happened to JESUS during Passion Week was not the ending of His physical life but the rejection of GOD in His life.
JESUS claimed to be the Son of GOD (Luke 22:70-71). He claimed that He was the Messiah (Luke 22:67-69). But the religious leaders of that day called Him a blasphemer. They rejected GOD’s endorsement of JESUS and they cried, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
We see in Peter’s sermon that He was confronting his audience to awaken them to their opposition to GOD and to GOD’s plan for the redemption of all people. GOD totally affirms JESUS as the long-awaited Messiah. These extremely religious, moral, worshipping people, who knew hundreds of scriptures, rejected JESUS as Messiah and by doing so rejected GOD Himself.
JESUS clearly declares Himself to be the only way to GOD (John 14:6). If we compromise this truth as we live in this pluralistic culture we rise up against GOD. If we relegate following JESUS with religious activities and moralism we rise up against GOD. If we allow our faith to become mundane and lifeless we rise up against GOD.
Peter’s sermon is powerful and boldly confrontational. He clearly declares, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that GOD has made Him [JESUS] both LORD and CHRIST—this JESUS whom YOU crucified” (v. 36). The critical issue in Peter’s sermon is not the killing of a man, but the repudiation of GOD!
What a powerful and challenging sermon! Peter is stating emphatically that JESUS is The Messiah . . . there is no other . . . and YOU nailed Him to a cross . . . and put Him to death – this JESUS whom YOU crucified is GOD’s anointed One . . . the sacrificial Lamb of GOD (v. 23 & 36).
Were you there when they crucified my LORD? Where you there when they nailed Him to a tree? Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb? Were you there when GOD . . . . Embrace the darkness, the suffering, and the flowing blood of JESUS.
JESUS is Risen . . . !