"He is Alive! He is
Alive! Jesus of Nazareth is alive!"
Women were the first to
see Jesus of Nazareth alive after his death by
crucifixion. Early on the first Easter morning they
arrived at the tomb to continue the burial process
used by the Jewish people of the first century. They
did not embalm Jesus as we do today. They wrapped
His body with long bands of linen cloth sprinkling
aromatic spices in the layers as they wrapped it.
These women arrived at the tomb and found it empty
and ran to tell the disciples of Jesus. The plain
truth is no one would believe that Jesus was alive
until he saw Him with his own eyes. No one was
expecting Him to be alive. They went expecting to
find a dead man, a corpse, in the tomb.
"Jesus first appeared to
Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven
demons." When she recognized Jesus she reached out
and grabbed Him. Jesus said to Mary, "Stop clinging
to Me; for I have not ascended to the Father; but go
and tell My brethren, and say to them, 'I ascend to
My Father and your Father, and My God and your God"
(John 20:11–17). She went and announced it to the
disciples saying, "I have seen the Lord" (v. 18).
Mary ran and told the disciples and "they refused to
believe it" (Mark 16:9–11). "These words appeared to
them as nonsense, and they would not believe them"
* Jesus greeted other women
who had arrived soon after Mary Magdalene. "And they
came up and took hold of His feet and worshipped
Him." Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and
take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and
there they shall see Me" (Matthew 28:9–10).
* Late in the afternoon two
of the disciples were walking to the town of Emaus
discussing the events of the weekend. Their hopes
were dashed to pieces because of the death of Jesus.
A stranger joined them as they walked. They invited
Him in for a meal. As Jesus broke the bread and
blessed it "their eyes were opened and they
recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight."
They hurried back to Jerusalem and went to the house
where the eleven disciples were staying and told
them their experience how they recognized Him. The
disciples also told them, "The Lord has really
risen, and has appeared to Simon."
* While the two travelers
were relating the story how they recognized Him in
the breaking the bread, "Jesus came and stood in
their midst and said to them, 'Peace with you.'" "He
showed them both His hands and His side" (John
20:19–20). They were "startled and frightened."
Jesus said, "See My hands and My feet, that it is I
Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have
flesh and bones as you see that I have." Jesus
showed them His hands and His feet. They gave Him a
piece of boiled fish and He took it and ate it in
their sight (Luke 24:33–43).
* Another disciple Thomas
was not present that night. He refused to believe
until he saw the feet and the hands of his crucified
Lord. "Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the
nails, and put my finger into the place of the
nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not
believe." With that attitude, Jesus let Thomas wait
eight days. "After eight days again His disciples
were inside a closed room, and Thomas with them.
Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in
their midst, and said, 'Peace be with you.' Then He
said to Thomas, 'Reach here your finger, and see My
hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My
side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.' Thomas
answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God!'"
* There was an occasion
when all of the disciples were fishing on the Sea of
Tiberias. Jesus after He was risen from the dead
appeared one morning and taught the disciples (John
* On separate occasions,
Jesus appeared to Peter, to His half brother James,
and to more than 500 people at one time, most who
were still alive when Paul wrote his letter to the
Corinthians. Paul then says that he saw the
resurrected body of Jesus when Jesus appeared to him
on the road to Damascus. Paul saw a real resurrected
and glorified body.
* In Galilee Jesus again
appeared to the eleven, "and when they saw Him, they
worshipped Him." Jesus then commissioned them to be
His witnesses to all nations. "And after He said
these things, He was lifted up while they were
looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their
sight." They were gazing intently into the sky while
He was departing.
R. W. Dale, pastor of
Carr's Chapel in London, while studying these great
passages of Scripture rose from his desk and began
to pace back and forth in his study shouting out
loud, "He's alive! He's alive! Jesus is alive! O, I
want my people to know He is alive!"
For forty days, Jesus
demonstrated Himself alive in Galilee and Judea and
Jerusalem. Ten days later something astounding
happened in an upper room in Jerusalem not far from
the Temple. There was a sound like a violent,
rushing wind that filled the house. There was no
wind. It was just the sound like a tornado that they
heard. Tongues like fire were distributing itself on
them and resting on each one of them. The Holy
Spirit filled them and they spoke spontaneously in
other languages they had never learned. The sound
brought people in Jerusalem out into the streets.
The people heard the 120 speaking in their native
dialects the mighty deeds of God (Acts 2). Some of
the rabble mocked them thinking they had drunk too
much sweet wine. Then Peter stood and preached his
greatest sermon. He explained that what was
happening was the fulfillment of the prophecy of the
Hebrew prophet Joel. Then he told them about Jesus.
GOD APPROVED THE LIFE
OF JESUS (2:22)
Jesus was a man "approved
With boldness Peter says,
"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"
If what Peter said that
day was not true, his listeners would have been
ready to contradict and correct him. They would have
put him to shame if he were not able to prove what
He tells us about Jesus
of Nazareth. He was a real man. He was not a
superman, nor a phantom. He was a normal man,
authenticated and approved by God to be what God
wanted in man.
God authenticated Jesus
by performing through Him "miracles, wonders and
Journey through the
Gospels and you see Jesus changing water to wine,
saying "Peace be still" and calming the winds and
the waves on a lake. You see Him multiplying loaves
of bread and fish and feeding 5,000 men. Watch Him
casting out demons and raising the dead. God was at
work in Jesus authenticating Him. The word
"attested" (NASB), or "accredited," (NIV),
"approved" in the KJV suggest the idea of
demonstration, appointment, accreditation. Jesus did
these things by the power of God that resided in
Him. Here is God at work in Him.
GOD APPROVED THE DEATH
OF JESUS (2:23)
You murdered Him.
Peter continues "this
Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and
foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the
hands of godless men and put Him to death" (v. 23).
The Roman executioner
certified Jesus dead. Mark informs us Pilate refused
to give the body up until he was certified dead by
the Centurion (Mark 15:44-47). The Jewish religious
leaders used the Roman Gentiles to kill Jesus.
In the March 21, 1986,
issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical
Association had an article on "The Physical Death of
Jesus Christ." The article concluded:
"Thus it remains
unsettled whether Jesus died of cardiac rupture, or
of cardiorespiratory failure, however the important
feature may not be how he died, but whether he died.
Clearly the weight of historical and medical
evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the
wound to his side was inflicted, and supports the
traditional view that the spear thrust between his
right ribs probably perforated not only the right
lung but also the pericardium and the heart, and
thereby insured his death. Accordingly
interpretations based upon the assumption that Jesus
did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with
modern medical knowledge."
Jesus was "delivered up
by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God."
The death of Jesus was
part of the eternal plan of God for our redemption.
It was the will of God. The cross was no accident in
the plan of God. It was an essential event,
programmed by God the Father before the beginning of
time. Sin could be dealt with only by the death of
Romans 6:23 tells us:
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of
God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Yes,
you say, but Jesus was not a sinner! This is the
reason why Jesus went to the cross. "For while we
were still helpless, at the right time Christ died
for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a
righteous man; though perhaps for the good man
someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates
His own love toward us, in that while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6–8). Hebrews
9:22, "with out the shedding of blood there is no
forgiveness." The Apostle Paul reminds us, "He (God)
made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our
behalf, that we might become the righteousness of
God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
GOD RAISED JESUS FROM
THE DEAD (2:24–35)
"God raised him up
again" (v. 24a).
Only the resurrection
power of God can raise the dead. Jesus rose from the
dead in all the fullness and vitality of His person.
God released Him from
death's agony. He "put an end to the agony of
death to hold Him in its power (v. 24b)
"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" (v. 24).
The imagery is that of a
hunter catching and binding his victims with nooses
and cords. Christ broke the cords of death. He rose
victoriously from the grave.
At least 3,000 people
were listening to Peter give witness to the
resurrection of Jesus Christ. Not a single voice was
raised in protest to what he was saying. Remember
that it has been only 50 days since these people had
seen Jesus of Nazareth crucified in this city. Not a
single person challenged Peter's testimony. They
knew the tomb was empty. They knew the authorities
could not produce the body of Jesus. They had heard
the rumors that Jesus had appeared alive before
groups of people. Now they stand in mute silence as
they listen to the testimony of one of those
Peter quotes Psalm
Peter quotes King David's
words in Psalm 16:8–11 in Acts 2:25–28.
"For David says of Him,
'I WAS ALWAYS BEHOLDING THE LORD IN MY PRESENCE; FOR
HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, THAT I MAY NOT BE SHAKEN. '
THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED;
MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL ABIDE IN HOPE; BECAUSE
THOU WILT NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW
THY HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY. 'THOU HAST MADE KNOWN
TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; THOU WILT MAKE ME FULL OF
GLADNESS WITH THY PRESENCE.'"
Peter makes it very clear
that David was not referring to himself. "Brethren,
I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch
David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb
is with us to this day" (v. 29). These words of
David cannot possibly refer to David, for he died
and his tomb is in Jerusalem. Israel's great king
was a prophet and was referring to one greater than
David. Only in the resurrection of Jesus can these
words be fulfilled. David foresaw Jesus as saying,
"I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my
right hand that I may not be shaken." He lived His
life continually in dependence on the power and
authority of His Father. In Psalm 16:8 the idea is
"I am keeping Him always before my mind's eye."
The indispensable thing
Peter says is the resurrection was absolutely
essential in view of the kind of life Jesus lived.
Verse 25 tells us how he lived. "I was always
beholding the Lord in my presence; for He is at my
right hand, that I may not be shaken." In verse 26,
we have the results. "Therefore my heart was glad
and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will
abide in hope; because Thou wilt not abandon my soul
to Hades, nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay."
Death could have no power over Jesus because of the
kind of life He lived.
Only the Lord Jesus has
ever been able to say that in the sense in which He
said it. He was sinless. No angel is like Him. No
man is like him. He is the sovereign Lord. He was
tempted as other men, but without falling. There was
perfect fellowship between God the Father and Jesus
of Nazareth until the moment He cried out from the
cross, "My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
In that moment, the perfect intimacy was broken.
Until then Jesus could say, "I was always beholding
the Lord in my presence; for He is at my right hand,
that I may not be shaken."
Peter did not quote the
exact words of the Psalm in the Hebrew. However, he
did not alter the sense or meaning of the Psalm.
Peter quotes the Septuagint (LXX) or Greek
translation of the Hebrew Psalm.
David's "hope" is
in the resurrection.
Verse 27 says "because
Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow
Thy Holy One to undergo decay." "Hell" in the King
James Version translates a word that denotes
"Hades." It is literally, "the unseen world." Here
it refers either to death itself or to the abode of
the dead. Goodspeed translates it "death," and
Moffatt and the NIV translate "the grave." The word
is not Gehenna, which is always translated "hell" in
the New Testament. It is the place of eternal
separation from God and eternal punishment.
Peter is quoting David in
Psalm 16:10. "For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to
Sheol; Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to
undergo decay." There is no greater power than the
relationship that binds David to the LORD God. He
has his hand upon David and will not let him go.
David is eternally secure in God's strength. Death
and the grave have no hold upon him. In the Old
Testament "Sheol" generally refers to the afterlife
as such, to the realm into which one passes as he
leaves his present form of existence. It can be
equated with the grave or the hereafter.
"Sheol" is strange to the
English reader, but in the Old Testament it "is
commonly pictured as a huge, relentless monster,
standing with mouth wide open, ready to swallow all
the children of men as they are swept along toward
it." The psalmist has never seen anyone survive
death and the grave, but here he has confidence in
the power of the living God that death will not be
his master. God will prevent his passing into
Sheol's power. David's bold assertion of faith was
vindicated by the resurrection of Christ Jesus.
This great statement of
faith of David was never fulfilled in regard to him.
It was fulfilled in Christ. David "foreseeing this
spake of the resurrection of Christ" (Acts 2:31).
David saw himself in his relationship with Christ
and could therefore speak as he here does. The Holy
Spirit guided the spirit of David so that he gave
shape and form to his utterance in such a way that
what he concluded in the logic of faith reached a
marvelous fulfillment in the resurrection of Christ.
David died, of course, yet he did not die but lives
forever because of the death and resurrection of his
greater Son. This result was not accidental but the
outcome of the work of the Spirit, whose modes of
working are marvelous and wonderful.
Moreover, verse 28 quotes
David when it speaks of the resurrection life.
"'THOU HAST MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; THOU
WILT MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH THY PRESENCE.'
Someone has said correctly, "Those who are 'in
Christ' do most assuredly share in the fruits of His
Keil and Delitzsch in
their commentary on the Psalms observes, "The words
of the Psalm are a prophecy of David concerning
Jesus, the Christ, who was promised as the heir to
his throne, and whom by reason of the promise, he
had prophetically before his mind . . . . David
stands to his seed, the Christ and Holy One of God,
who appeared in the person of Jesus. David, the
anointed of God, looking upon himself as in Jahve,
the God who has given the promise, becomes the
prophet of Christ; but this is only indirectly, for
he speaks of himself, and what he says has also been
fulfilled in his own person" (p. 1003).
In the great plan of
redemption, "the hope which he cherishes for himself
personally has found a fulfillment which far exceeds
this. After his hope was found in Christ its full
realization in accordance with the history of the
plan of redemption, it receives through Christ its
personal realization of himself also. For what he
says, extends on the one hand far beyond himself,
and therefore refers prophetically to Christ" (Keil
and Delitzsch, p. 1003).
Verse 31 tells us death
had no effect whatever upon Jesus Christ. "He looked
ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,
that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His
flesh SUFFER DECAY." Jesus did not go to Hades; He
did not go to hell. He said when He died, "Father,
into Thy hands I commit my spirit" (Luke 23:46).
Death had no power over Him––none at all. It could
touch neither His soul nor His body.
Peter and the 120 people
with him could say we are witnesses to His
resurrection. "This Jesus God raised up again, to
which we are all witnesses" (v. 32).
Jesus is Lord (vv.
Peter turned the whole
audience into witnesses of his claim. You are
witnessing the proof of what David predicted would
happen. The coming of the Holy Spirit is the
crowning proof that Christ has been raised from the
dead and enthroned in heaven as the exalted Messiah
"Therefore having been
exalted to the right hand of God, and having
received from the Father the promise of the Holy
Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see
Peter quoted Psalm 110:1.
King David didn't ascend up into heaven, but listen
to what he said. "The LORD says to my Lord: 'Sit at
My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies a
footstool for Thy feet.'"
The only conclusion you
can come to is "God has made Him both Lord and
Christ (the Messiah)––this Jesus whom you crucified"
Everything was of God.
God demonstrated His perfection through His works.
God delivered Him to death. God raised Him from the
dead. God exalted Him to the throne. God gave Him
the Spirit for those he represented and for all
Sin put Him on the cross.
God gave Him to the world. Grace delivered Him to
the cross. Grace raised Him from the dead. Grace
exalted Him. Grace gives Him the Spirit to give to
the very people who had rejected Him. Moreover, He,
in His grace, gives His Spirit to us.
ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ into heaven.
Take a few moments and
try to visualize the ascension of our Lord, not from
the earthly side merely, but from the heavenly side.
Try to see the ascension, not as they saw it who
lost Him to sense and sight, but as the residents of
heaven saw Him arrive in Heaven.
Jesus led the disciples
out of the city, and then uttered these words, "You
shall be My witnesses . . ." Then Luke says, "as
they were looking, He was taken up; and a cloud
received Him out of their sight." That is all. Now,
quietly, for a moment or two, follow Him. Remember
that He did not cease to be Jesus then––He was still
Jesus of Nazareth. He was not dissipated into thin
air. Jesus of Nazareth was lost to sight to those
watchers on the hillside. As they saw Him moving
away from the earth in bodily form, and the cloud
receiving Him. Can you follow Him?
To what place Jesus
ascended, and how He moved to it––all these are
entirely beyond us. We do know from God's Word that
He went to be with His Heavenly Father. It is a
place, and to that place Jesus of Nazareth ascended.
He is there now preparing a place for us. He has not
lost His human form and never will, for God has
taken humanity in Jesus into eternal being and
relationship with Himself.
The risen Jesus of
Nazareth has ascended to the right hand of God in
heaven. I like to imagine that I am there when He
arrived. There were spirits of men there. Moses, and
Elijah, and Abel, and Abraham were there. There is
David, and Jeremiah, and Isaiah, and a great host of
others. All of humanity that had arrived before He
came was there by the mercy and grace of God. There
must have been a great shout of acclamation and
praise and thanksgiving for his atoning sacrifice
for their sins. He did not come by the mercy of God.
He came in the inherent right of His own
sinlessness. He alone was righteous in the sight of
God. I believe the watching angels were filled with
rapture when He came. Now they see this Jesus of
Nazareth come, and all the hosts of those who were
there by the mercy of God see Him come. In my
thoughts, I am in that company. I look at Him and
say, "Praise and glory be to our great God and
Savior. Oh, thank you Jesus for being obedient to
your Father. Thank you for dying for me. Thank you
for being my sacrifice for sin. Thank you Jesus who
lives forever more."
But why are there wounds
and nail prints visible in the hands and feet of
this Man? He comes having accomplished on His Cross
the exodus. Remember when he talked talking to Moses
and Elijah at His transfiguration about His exodus
that was about to be accomplished?
If He had failed, all of
these Old Testament saints who were in heaven on
credit would have had to leave the heavenly places.
For the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the
world according to the eternal purpose of God. Now
the deed is done. One great shout came form His
lips. In a loud voice came one word––tetelesti!
We need three to translate it in English. "It is
finished!" Done! Complete! In His hands and feet,
are the scars representing all of my sins and your
sins. At the right hand of God exalted is the Man of
It was "through the
eternal Spirit He offered Himself to God." Moreover,
it was an official act of God when He, the Man of
Nazareth, passed into the heaven of heavens in the
perfection of His humanity. He was wounded for you
and me. There in heaven is Jesus of Nazareth, the
Son of God, representing us.
The conclusion to Peter's
sermon is brief but powerful.
"Therefore let all the
house of Israel know for certain that God has made
Him both Lord and Christ (Messiah)––this Jesus whom
you crucified" (v. 36). In the original language,
you crucified are the last words of the sermon.
Those two words must have echoed in their hearts.
Please observe the title
given to Jesus. "Lord" means sovereign ruler of all
things, King over all men and nations. He holds the
key to life and death, heaven and hell. "Jesus" is
His personal name. "Christ" is a title. It means the
Messiah, the Promised Deliverer, the Anointed of God
to deliver His people. This resurrected Jesus of
Nazareth is the sovereign God.
Now what will you
do with Jesus (v. 37–38)?
The response of the
people is given in verse 37. They were "pierced to
the heart." They cried out to Peter, "Brethren, what
shall we do?" It is a very strong word expressing
emotional stress of various kings. It suggests deep
conviction. The literal meaning is "to pierce," "to
stun," "to smite." It was used of horses pounding
the earth with their hoofs. They were "broken in
heart." They felt crushed. They became broken and
stunned by the atrociousness of their sin and they
cried out, "What must we do?" Like David they cried
out, "Against Thee and Thee only have I sinned."
The only solution is to
"repent" (v. 38). Baptism is a symbolic act by which
we express our repentance, confess our faith in
Christ and identify ourselves publicly with Christ.
When we are baptized "in the name of Jesus Christ,"
we are acknowledging Him as our savior. Only He can
take away our sins and give us forgiveness.
What is your relationship
to Jesus Christ? Does your faith rest on Him? Can
you say He loved me; He gave Himself up for me; He
shed his blood for me, for me He rose, for me He
ascended, for me He sent the Spirit, for me the Holy
Spirit applied the free gift of salvation?
Title: Christ is Risen!
Psalm 16:8–11; Acts
Series: Christ in the