Acts 2:14-41 Why Jesus Came
MPT: Christ came so that all those who call upon his name will be saved
MPS: Look to Jesus as your only savior, and tell the world about him
I don’t know about you, but I love Christmas time. When we are intentional about why we are celebrating it, there is just something so special about it. When we think about how this seemingly insignificant event at the time literally changed the world, God looks so good to us, amen? So many things went into the incarnation of Christ that we can spend our entire lifetimes talking about all the implications of it.
But I don’t want to be insensitive either. Christmas is difficult for many people. Because of what goes on during this time, spending the holidays with family, for some people this is the most depressing time of the year. So many of us here have either lost someone around this time, or are reminded that this year there is an emptiness because of a loss. Our church has gone through a lot this year and the fact that Christmas is a family and friends time makes it that much harder.
The world wants to make Christmas all about commercialism and about spending time with family and friends. Now we know that getting and receiving gifts is a blessing, as is spending time with special people in our lives. But if that’s all Christmas is about, then it falls flat as soon as either one of those things is gone, or both.
Chris, Daniel, and I were talking about this concept of getting so consumed with the thing we want most, and then when you get it, it turns to ash right in your hands. This is a great picture of how idolatry works. We convince ourselves that if we could just have whatever it is we want at the moment, then we will be satisfied. But we never are. And we will do this all throughout the year, with good things that God has given us.
But I think Christmas, more than most things is such a time of testing for us and our faith. We know that Christmas is the time where we celebrate the coming of Christ from Heaven down to Earth. But why is that important, why even celebrate it? If the story stopped there than we would merely have a sympathetic God who knows our weaknesses, but we would be no closer to restoring the broken relationship between us and him.
So why did Jesus come? What do we do with Advent and Christmas? My main point today is that the coming of Christ inaugurates the promised Day of the Lord, so look to Christ as the only one worthy of all our adoration and worship. Peter’s Sermon in Acts argues this point, that the Day of the Lord has come, and it shows us what we are supposed to do with it. So we will have four truths about the Day of the Lord and what we are supposed to do with it. The first is that The Day of the Lord has come. The second is that Jesus, who died, is alive. The third truth is that Jesus is God and Lord, as the Scriptures foretold. And the fourth is that we are to Call upon the Name of the Lord and be Saved.
-The Day of the Lord has Come(14-21) Read Text
Peter has had a whirlwind of experiences in the last three years. He’s been the guy at the center of Jesus’ circle, closest to him. He’s also been the loudmouth firebrand of the group, sometimes saying exactly the right thing, and other times putting his foot in his mouth. This sermon is one of the most incredible sermons of the New Testament, for it’s simplicity, it’s reliance on scripture, it’s clear path to the gospel, and so many other reasons. I just find Peter’s story so refreshing. He is the guy the world would have written off a while ago. But Jesus loved him so dearly and never gave up on him or the other disciples. What we see here is the power of the Spirit in a broken, weak vessel, that starts a fire that will light up the world.
So here, Peter is basically answering the first big question that comes up in the crowd, and trying to dispel misunderstandings. He says nobody here is drunk, it’s too early in the day for that. Rather what is going on here is fulfillment of prophecy. And he launches into a quote that these people would likely have known or at least been familiar with. He goes back to the book of Joel, Chapter 2:28-32. And what he is saying here is that this even here, Pentecost is what Joel was talking about. It is the sign that the Day of the Lord has come. And everything that Joel said about the Day of the Lord now applies. So these people here speaking in tongues, are fulfilling the words of an ancient prophet. Because that is true, then that means that the very last verse of this prophecy is true as well. The Day of the Lord is here, and therefore everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
This is huge. I mean this is what God has been talking about all through Scripture. All the times he has rescued Israel were foreshadowing the true salvation that he promised at the very beginning in Genesis 3. This is the true salvation. And it’s proven to be true by the fact that the people of God now have the Holy Spirit. All this stuff that Joel talks about starts here in this scene and continues through the book of Acts.
And this is true for us as well as it was for the early Christians. Because of Christmas; because the savior of Heaven has come we now have the Holy Spirit that Jesus said would come after he left. We have the Spirit of God dwelling in us as the seal that we are his. Paul says in Romans 8 that “the Spirit himself bears witness along with our spirit that we are Sons, and daughters, of God.”
So do you have the Spirit? Can you and others see evidence of the Spirit at work in your life? If you’re wondering what that looks like, The Bible is full of clues. Look to Galatians 5 for the fruits of the Spirit, or to what Jesus says about him, that he gives glory to Christ and comforts God’s Children. Or what Paul says about how he is the seal of our inheritance. And furthermore, do you point out evidence of the Spirit in the lives of your brothers and sisters? I think we sometimes struggle with how to give and receive praise. I’ve found though that the greatest praise for a believer is pointing out that I see the Spirit’s work in them. It reminds us of the confidence we have in Christ, and shows that even when we can’t see it, that God is really working in us, to mold us into the image of his Son.
So all this talk about the Day of the Lord bears the question, who is the Lord. That is why Peter continues the way he does. This leads to the second truth.
-Jesus, who died, is alive(v. 22-24) Read Text
Just about everyone in the room knew about Jesus. They either knew him personally, or they had seen him or heard of him. They knew he was a Jewish Rabbi who had been put to death by the Romans as an insurrectionist. And they knew that the Jewish leaders did not like him at all. Many were at Jesus’ trial and execution. So this is why Peter has to start out this way, and not just come out and say, the Lord is Jesus. If he had said that, everyone would have laughed or walked away. That guy died on a Roman cross as a traitor. But Peter says, you all know about Jesus. Well, he is not dead. He walked out of a grave. He was put to death according to God’s sovereign plan and then he was raised to life by God’s will. This would get their attention. Jesus had celebrity status in that so many people knew something about him. He went all over Israel and there were always people who had heard of him. To say he was alive was shocking. It’s akin to saying Michael Jackson, or Elvis, has risen from the grave. There are very few people who would say, “who’s that?”
Christianity lives or dies based on the truth claims in the Bible. Not one of them is more or less important than the other. All are necessary, not so that Christians can be the select few who have truth, and they can make everyone else feel insignificant. All are necessary because they are the revelation of God himself to humanity. If one of them is false than there is no reason to trust any of them, and we have no reason to even look to God as our savior. If Christ did not rise from the grave than we are still stuck in the same boat the world was before he came. Paul says we are of all people to be pitied if Jesus did not rise from the dead. Our faith, corporate, and individual, stands on the fact that there is an empty grave in the Middle East. All the things Peter has said up to this point and all the things he will say after, are null and void if Christ did not rise from the grave. It is completely necessary for there to be a Day of the Lord. Jesus said it himself. The Holy Spirit can’t come if I don’t go.
Peter then points us to why that is so significant. Even if Jesus did rise from the grave, what good does that do for us? He’s building an argument that shows that if the Day of the Lord has come, the only proper response is to call on the name of Jesus. So why Jesus? This leads to the third truth,
-Jesus is God and Lord, as the scriptures foretold(v. 25-36) Read Text
Here is where we get two more Old Testament quotes (read 25-28). Now what does all that mean? Well Peter explains it in the next segment. Essentially what he is saying in verses 29-33 is that the prophecy here from Psalm 16:8-11 states that one of David’s descendants would sit on the throne. Peter explains why it is not David but one of his descendants because David died. So when David said all these things, he couldn’t have been talking about himself.
One of the most helpful tools in interpreting scripture is when we reach a part that we don’t understand, or that seems contradictory, we need to first figure out what the passage or verse does not mean, according to the rest of scripture. So if what I think this verse means directly contradicts what I already know from the rest of Scripture, than that interpretation is out. Pastor Tony Merida says all the time to let scripture interpret scripture. This is what Peter is doing here. If David died and was buried, then his body saw corruption. So then it must be talking about someone else. And this is what the books of 1 and 2 Kings are all about. There is so much expectation built up around the office of King and every single one of them fails, some of them are so bad, the Bible says almost nothing about them because they’re just boring. And at the end of the book we are still left wondering, where is the King?
Peter says it’s Jesus. He just fulfilled what David was talking about. God did not abandon him but raised him up. Peter even backs it up by telling them that he and so many others in the room were witnesses. Jesus is not the first person to be resurrected from the dead in Scripture or in History. But he is the only one to never die again. Jesus walked out of his grave just like Lazarus, but eventually Lazarus had to go back to the grave. Jesus did not. He ascended to the right hand of the throne of God, just like Psalm 110:1 says, quoted here in verse 34.
The Bible is full of prophecy and foreshadowing. It’s an epic love story between an all-powerful God and a rebellious creation. God continually blesses his people, despite their constant wandering. He hears their cries when they are oppressed by their own doing. He rescues them, and gives freely. He is so kind. God would have been right to end humanity as soon as Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. He did nothing to deserve their betrayal. That’s what it was, right?
That’s what we’ve been talking about in the Goodness of God series. We let ourselves believe lies that God is not good, just like Eve did when the Serpent tempted her. God gave them a whole garden full of wonderful things, where they could live in pleasure with the very God of the universe, who was ready to shower them with love and blessings. Instead they spat in his face and said he’s not good because he won’t let me have the one thing that will kill me. All of that and God still comes after us. We are guilty of the same thing and instead of destroying us, God sends his beloved Son to take the punishment our hatred and rebellion earned.
The coming of Christ is the ultimate demonstration that God loves us. The New Testament shows us that God did what he said he was going to do in Genesis, by chronicling the life of Christ, showing precisely how he fulfilled all the prophecies of the rescuer God had promised, and at the same time showing what God is like.
Peter has pulled all his hearers in and brings down the hammer at the end. It’s obvious by now what he says in verse 36. (Read). He said let everyone know for certain. There can be no doubt. But then he finishes with something so crucial. They were guilty of crucifying Jesus. No one there disputed that fact, or would they have before this sermon. Peter changes everything though by showing that you rebelled against the God you say you serve by putting his own Son to death. The execution did not mean very much if this Jesus guy was just some rebel. It meant everything though if the man hanging on the cross was the king of the universe. Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary says that “Christians celebrate Christmas because they understand the glory of Christ.” Christmas means everything because it’s about Christ. Truth #4
-Call upon the name of the Lord and be saved(v. 37-41) Read Text
(Read) The gospel is not really the gospel if it brings no conviction of sin. If you don’t think you did anything wrong, why would you need forgiveness? So much of our teaching of children involves showing them and explaining to them why something is wrong, whether it’s dangerous or it hurts others. Most of all, we teach them why sin is sin, because it hurts God. And this is the start of our gospel teaching to them, right? We want our kids to see the majesty of God, in his creating the Earth, causing the sun to stand still for the Israelites, parting the Red Sea for Moses, destroying the army of Sennacharib, King of Assyria with a single Angel; and we want them to see God’s love in how he rescues Israel from the oppression of Egypt, and how Jesus lets the little children come to him and he heals the sick.
But if they never understand the fact that they are just as guilty of sinning against this wonderful God as we are, then they will never seek Christ for their salvation. If we say Christ is our savior but we don’t acknowledge our own sin and guilt, than what is he saving us from? Poverty, sickness, hunger, slavery, calamity? If that is what he is saving us from than most of the world has little reason to trust him, because he is doing a very poor job. But what did Jesus say? In Matthew 10:28 Jesus says: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Jesus came to save us from the thing that could truly kill us: sin and the Devil. The people in the room heard exactly what was intended, that they were guilty of sinning against a holy God. Their question is perfect because it’s really the only thing we can say. What shall we do?
And then come the best words in scripture: “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 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” This is it right? This takes us right back to the beginning of the sermon. The Day of the Lord has come, and that means that now everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Christmas is the inauguration of the Day of the Lord. This is why so many of our Christmas songs sing of joy to the world, peace on earth, the day we’ve waited for has finally come, rejoice!
I’ve been engrossed in some wonderful Christmas songs this year. I’m probably a Christmas song snob. I prefer the term purist. I really enjoy the old Christmas hymns. I don’t mind new ones, but I really don’t care for most of the ones all about Santa Clause and all that’s stuff. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but it does not capture the joy of Christmas in the same way that O Come all ye Faithful does. I’ve been listening to a new Christmas album by Hillsong, and they have one song that with a line that has just stuck with me for the last two weeks. It says “Now the darkest of ages are done, for the Savior of Heaven has come.” No matter how bleak the world seems, no matter how dark our own suffering, Christmas is a reminder that this is as bad as it will ever get if we are in Christ. The age we are in now is the Day of the Lord, which means we have an eternal hope that is secured in Christ, that nothing can take from us.
So where are you? Have you called upon the name of the Lord? Have you repented of your Sins? If not that is what the Bible calls you to do, and that is what I invite you to do today. If you have never asked God to save you from your sin, you need the Gospel. What we are guilty of is not just doing bad things. What we are guilty of is being rebels against a Holy, Just, and Loving God. We are guilty of sin being our very identity. If you’ve never done that I invite you right now to confess your sins and Ask God to forgive you, and to save you.
Brother or sister, if you are in Christ, you need the Gospel. The gospel is not the diving board that we jump off of into the pool of live. The gospel is the pool that we swim in. We all know this. We daily need God’s grace to live a life that is pleasing to him, and we daily need his forgiveness for all the times we keep tripping or wandering off into the woods like sheep. And the beautiful message of the Gospel is not just that we need that but that God gives it to us freely. If you just ask, he pours out his lovingkindness on us. He even does it when we forget to ask. And the message is for us to proclaim as well. If we go through Christmas without proclaiming the excellencies of Christ, then do we really treasure Him like we say we do? The gospel is for the World. My challenge for you brother or sister is to talk about Jesus with at least one person you meet during this Christmas time. And don’t stop there. Talk about Him until you can’t talk anymore.
The Lord’s Supper
So now as we turn to the table, let’s contemplate and celebrate what the table represents.
It’s an opportunity for us to remember what Christ has done on our behalf and to look forward to what he will accomplish.
God showed us his radical love for us by sending his Son to us The Lord’s Supper is a reminder of that goodness shown to unworthy sinners. Luke records the institution of the Lord’s Supper for us. He says: 14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it[b] until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
So if you’re a believer and in good standing with your local church, we invite you to take the table with us.
The Lord’s Supper is not for perfect Christians. If you’re perfect than you don’t need Christ’s sacrifice. The table is for Christians who are living daily in a posture of repentance and faith. If there’s something you need to confess, confess it to the Lord before you come. If you need to be reconciled to a brother or sister, do that before you take the table.
If you’re here and you’re not a Christ Follower, the table is for Christians. So if you can’t take the table with us, we hold out to you something better than the table. We hold out to you Christ, the one whom the table points to. If you’d like to know more about what it means to be a Christ Follower, I invite you to come grab me or Chris or one of the members after the service and we’d love to talk to you about what that looks like.
So we’re going to sing and you come as you’re ready. Once you grab the elements you can return to your seat and once everyone has come I’ll lead us in taking the elements together. (Break)
In the Lord’s Supper we’re reminded of what Christ has done on our behalf. Christ gave himself up for us. He took the punishment we deserved and his body was broken in our place. In Luke again Jesus says And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” The Body of Christ broken for you.
But the Lord’s Supper is not a time to feel sorry for Jesus. He’s alive and well on the Throne. So the table is also a time for us to look forward to when we will sit around the table with King Jesus for a feast of the likes of which we’ve never seen before. 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” The Blood of Christ shed for you.
Now let’s sing together