God has raised Jesus. 10:34-43
The passage before us is part of Luke's description of the beginnings of Gentile Christianity established through the ministry of the apostle Peter, 9:32-12:25. The immediate context is the story of Cornelius, 10:1-11:18. The passage itself is the gospel sermon Peter preached to Cornelius and his family, friends and servants.
v34-35. Peter's God is a sovereign God who acts as he chooses, cf. Rom.9-11. God chose Israel in an act of grace and now again, in an act of grace, his special love is extended to all. This is a revolutionary idea for a Jew.
v36-37. C.H. Dodd says, that "the speech before Cornelius represents the form of kerygma (gospel presentation) used by the primitive church in its earliest approaches to a wider audience." Interestingly, it follows closely the scope of Mark's gospel. Also, it is filled with Aramaisims, that is, it looks very much like a message originally preached by a person whose native language is Aramaic.
v38. Although Peter does not make the point explicitly, Jesus' anointing with the Holy Spirit at his baptism represents his appointment by God as the long awaited Messiah, Isa.61. It is most likely that the sermon is only a summary of what Peter said and so he may well have filled it out with stories of healings, etc.
v39-41. Although we tend to want to stress the theology of the atonement when we present the gospel, the emphasis in the New Testament is upon the resurrection of Christ. The reference to "hanged on a tree" comes from Deut.21:23. The point is simple enough, "he that is hanged (on a tree) is accursed of God." So, Jesus was condemned by his own people and made the lowest of the low, but God overturned this disgrace and through his resurrection bestowed on him the greatest of honours, investing him with authority to rule. Jesus is Lord, and as Lord he has the authority to bless or curse. Note how Peter is able to bear witness to the bodily resurrection of Jesus because he not only saw him alive, but he ate and drank with him.
v42. Peter repeats the charge that was laid on the witnesses - preach the gospel. There seems little doubt that all believers share the responsibility of communicating the fact of, and the consequences that flow from, Christ's resurrection. Because Jesus has risen from the dead and has ascended to the Father, the kingdom is come, the hour is at hand. The "one like unto the son of man" has taken up his throne and now rules with power and authority, Dan.7:13f. The downside of this present rule of Christ is that judgment is at hand..
v43. The upside of Christ's rule is that the "Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins", Mk.2:10.
Bad news and good news|
Our reading from the book of Acts contains some bad news, but also some good news. It's all the result of an event that occurred nearly two thousand years ago, namely, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus' death was a declaration of failure. All that he had ever stood for, ever taught, ever claimed, was set aside in his death. The generation that heard his claims and saw his deeds, voted him out. He was treated as refuse by his own.
Yet, although Jesus was rejected by his own, he wasn't rejected by God. In fact, the opposite is so. Jesus' resurrection was a declaration by God that he is the long awaited ruler of the universe - the Lord of all. The whole of nature sensed the dawning of the new age in this mighty event. We have all experienced vindication; sweet as honey to the lips, isn't it? All those years ago Jesus was proved right in his resurrection.
As for the consequences of Jesus' resurrection, the news is both bad and good. The bad news has to do with judgement. Peter tells us that God has appointed Jesus "as judge of the living and the dead." So, we have to warn each other that we will all stand before the judge of the universe and give account of our lives. If Jesus is Lord of this age then the ultimate question is always going to be, do we recognize his right over our lives? If we ignore the Lord of all, then we will stand condemned in the day of judgement, and in a sense, that day is now.
Thankfully, bad news is often followed by good news, and the good news has to do with forgiveness. The apostle Peter tells us that everyone who believes in him (Jesus) receives forgiveness of sins." Jesus lives, and because he lives we can live also, free from condemnation.
There is an old saying which goes this way: "a human is the only animal that can blush and the only one that needs to." Anyone from the caring professions can tell us that guilt is the most widespread negative force affecting the human psyche. It eats us up, and we're all guilty aren't we? We often do a good job hiding it, but deep down within, gurgling away, there lies a stew of guilt.
The one who broke the bonds of death all those years ago, has the right, power and authority to forgive us of everything we have ever, or will ever, think or do. There is now no condemnation for those who put their trust in the risen Christ. There is now no ground for guilt. When we trust Jesus, it's as if we had never sinned.
Note the gospel structure in this passage and attempt to break it up into its component parts. Try restating it in a way that is easily understood today.
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