“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know – this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. “But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. “For David says of Him, ‘I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. ‘THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE; BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY. ‘YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.’
This passage is part of the main body of Peter’s first sermon. He is presenting and maybe defending Jesus as Israel’s Messiah. He addresses this first sermon to the “men of Israel” who are assembled in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Festival of First Fruits.
He starts with the simple admonition: “Listen”. “Hey guys, what I am about to say may be new to you and even sound strange at first but listen up.” He jumps immediately into talking about Messiah but uses Messiah’s early names adn one of His earthly titles: “Jesus of Nazareth” (Matthew 21:11).
This was a Name used by many to describe Jesus. It was a Name which indicated His humble beginnings and that Jesus was not one of the original powerbrokers and in-crowd. He came from humble beginnings and the wrong side of the tracks.
God the Father showed His approval of Him and His ministry – or validated Him and His ministry – through “…miracles, wonders, and signs…”. God performed these supernatural events through His Son Jesus. Interesting Peter would put it this way. This is because Jesus who is God was born as a man and functioned as a man while ministering on earth. Imagine that! He needed the anointing of the Holy Spirit to minister the same as we do today. He says in Luke 4:
“THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.” (Verses 18 and 19).
This is why He can later say in John’s Gospel (John 14:12) “that the works He (Jesus) does we will do also….”
Jesus did everything He did under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and so do we when we minister today.
Peter goes on … “This man…” – Jesus of Nazareth – He was fully human although also totally God. This is known as the mystery of the Incarnation that we celebrate every year on December 25th – and should remember daily. For “God took on human flesh and dwelt (tented) among us” (John 1:14). That should cause us to sit and ponder daily!
Now this, Peter states, was all done according to “God’s predetermined plan…” The Father pre-ordained that Jesus would die an atoning death for each one of us.
2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity
Revelation 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
This is a recurring theme in the early Church as witnessed through the book of Acts…
Acts 4:27-28 “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.
Acts 13:27-29 “For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him. “And though they found no ground for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate that He be executed. “When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.
BUT – the scriptures go on to say that this was all accomplished “by the hands of godless men.” As we know, this was accomplished by a combined working of the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman authorities – and so both the religious and the pagan worlds worked together to see Jesus crucified – and both are called, by God Himself, “godless”. What an indictment on the Jewish religious establishment.
Here is a good point, however: As we will see in Peter’s call, to the Jewish men listening who were called “devout” earlier in the Book of Acts, to repent … just because it was predetermined and planned by God does not absolve the guilt of those who caused it and carried it out.
Now the KEY WORD…and this is really exciting:
Acts 2:24 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.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 15 that death has power over us because of sin. And, death had absolutely no power over Jesus – He gave His life up – “Into Your hands I commend My Spirit”. No one took it – He gave it. And, Hell could not hold Him because He had never sinned. When you have no sin then death and Hell lose their power over you. It is then “impossible to hold Him.”
Some commentaries will tell you that Hell could not hold Him because of His divine power. Wrong! As a human being He was anointed just as we are and walked in what we are able to walk in today. The lack of death being able to hold Him was not because of His power but because of His lack of sin. That is the only reason.
Peter then ends this part of his first public ministry opportunity be quoting David – king and prophetic psalmist – (Acts 2:25-28) where God is speaking prophetically about His Son’s resurrection from the dead. This became the key teaching of the early Church and is often lost to the Church (many groups no longer believe in a physcial resurrection from the dead) and in the Church today (it is seldom preached on).
Just as God validated and approved of Jesus’ ministry – letting others know by “miracles, wonders and signs” so He wants to validate the five-fold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers by confirming His Word with a supernatural move of the Holy Spirit.
Why do we not see this happening most of the time in North America? I believe it is because we are not, in general, preaching God’s Word – we are preaching our own opinions as well as preaching what people want to hear. Of course, we preach so as to make people feel good about themselves in spite of the sin and disobedience that exists in their lives. We don’t want to upset people as we will not grow a big church that way and people may withhold their finances. We also interpret the Bible to suit our theology and back up our experiences. Thus, from the pulpits of North America we seldom hear what the Lord would say or what the Bible really states.
It is the Word of God that He blesses. Isaiah tells us that “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11). If we will preach God’s Word then we would see, as five-fold ministers, miracles signs and wonders following the declaration of the Word.
I also believe that we do not see the supernartural because we don’t expect to and don’t anticipate it nor prepare for it. So, we settle for Church as usual and when God does show up we get all excited and call it a “revival”. It should be the norm.
Wherever Peter went – people got healed (even through his shadow touching them)
Wherever Paul went God confirmed the Word for Him (see Romans 15:18-19)
When Philip preached the word in Samaria miracles, signs and wonders took place all over the city
When we preach or share God’s Word then it should move mightily and the anointing and power upon it should accomplish what it is sent forth to do. Let’s begin to believe for that today!