As our church has been studying the early chapters of Acts, I’ve been struck with the content of the sermons recorded there. Both Acts 2 and 3 are dominated by sermons of the Apostle Peter. I’m fascinated by what Peter says—and what he doesn’t.
Let’s set a bit of context. Jesus had been crucified, raised, and had ascended. The followers of Jesus, following his instructions, had remained in Jerusalem. At the feast of Pentecost, the Spirit is poured out on them in such a way as to draw a large crowd.
Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 is an explanation of those things that the crowd has witnessed. But note this: it is also a gospel sermon. This is important, because the gospel is the core message that we are to proclaim.
What I want us to notice is that the core of the Peter’s message has to do with the identity of Jesus of Nazareth.
Peter doesn’t tell the crowd that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life. He doesn’t even explain how Jesus’s death pays the penalty for their sins. These things may be true, but they don’t form the core of this early apostolic preaching.
Rather, Peter makes clear that God the Father has exalted Jesus, both in his earthly ministry and now in the Ascension. The climax of Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 is this: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
The question that Peter places before us, then, is this: “Who is Jesus?” Peter gives a clear and unyielding answer: he is Lord.
This is the same answer we see in Paul’s great hymn in Philippians 2. Jesus, though in very nature God, humbled himself by taking on a human nature. And he humbled himself yet lower by dying a degrading death on the cross. Paul’s conclusion: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Paul’s point here is worth contemplating: every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. On the whole, Scripture teaches that not everyone is finally saved. In fact, Jesus tells us that the way is narrow that leads to life.
So if not everyone is redeemed, how is it that everyone will confess that Jesus is Lord? The answer is that it is possible for us to acknowledge a truth, even while hating it. There will be those who make the confession that Jesus is Lord, but through clenched teeth.
The redeemed, however, have a different heart toward this confession. It is with delight that they acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And this becomes evident in their lives, as they gratefully acknowledge his right to rule them.
Jesus is Lord. Do you rejoice in this truth, or resent it?