Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost Cont’d
22 “You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— 23 this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24 But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. 25 For David says concerning him,
‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover my flesh will live in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One experience corruption.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Observations and Reflections
Peter’s sermon on Pentecost cover’s a lot of ground. But the primary point of the sermon is tying the death and resurrection of Jesus to Old Testament prophecies and messianic psalms. He is speaking directly to the Jews in the crowd and appealing to their understanding of the scriptures.
.. handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. (Acts 2:23)
In a no-so-subtle message, Peter communicates that God predestined Christ to die at the hands of the gentiles. However, Peter is not letting the Jews off the hook, reminding them that they were the ones that handed Jesus over to be crucified by these Gentiles. In fact, in the end of verse 36 Peter outright accuses them of crucifying Jesus.
But how is Peter going to tie Jesus’ resurrection to the prophets? He looks specifically at the messianic psalms of David where it appears that David’s prayer is about himself but Peter interprets as talking about Christ, where “your Holy One” is referring to Jesus and not David.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One experience corruption.
Peter affirms this view by quoting from Psalm 110:1, emphasizing that David was speaking of Jesus when he said “my Lord”.
Of David. A psalm. The LORD says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1)
It is hard for the modern reader to make this connection from the psalms but it does beg the question, if David was not talking about Jesus then who was he referring to? It certainly wasn’t himself according to Peter. These two connections to David was important to the Jewish audience since they held David and his psalms as sacred. While modern Christians tend to emphasize the prophets, the first century Jews were more focused on the return of the Davidic reign, recapturing the glory of David’s kingdom.
David’s influence was not just a Jewish phenomenon. His tomb (as Peter pointed out) was in Jerusalem and reportedly contained so much wealth that it was raised by the Jewish leader John Hyrcanus (130 BCE), to pay off the Greeks when Jerusalem was invaded Antiochus.
“He was buried by his son Solomon, in Jerusalem, with great magnificence, and with all the other funeral pomp which kings used to be buried with; moreover, he had great and immense wealth buried with him, the vastness of which may be easily conjectured at by what I shall now say; for a thousand and three hundred years afterward Hyrcanus the high priest, when he was besieged by Antiochus, that was called the Pious, the son of Demetrius, and was desirous of giving him money to get him to raise the siege and draw off his army, and having no other method of compassing the money, opened one room of David’s sepulcher, and took out three thousand talents, and gave part of that sum to Antiochus; and by this means caused the siege to be raised, as we have informed the reader elsewhere. Nay, after him, and that many years, Herod the king opened another room, and took away a great deal of money, and yet neither of them came at the coffins of the kings themselves, for their bodies were buried under the earth so artfully, that they did not appear to even those that entered into their monuments. But so much shall suffice us to have said concerning these matters” (Antiquities 7.15.3).
The Jewish people were well aware that David’s body was buried and experienced “corruption”, whereas Jesus’ body did not because it was raised by the Lord. David’s tomb was full and Christ’s was empty. There is the proof Peter is demonstrating.
Peter goes on to bring to light that all of what had taken place was prophesied before. He reminds them of how God had made a promise to David that there would one day be a messiah who would come and save this world. He predicted that He would die and be raised from the dead!
None of what Peter is saying are his own words. He is merely reiterating the truth of what had been spoken before and is showing his audience that what he is speaking of, is taking place right now. Jesus has already come to this world, died for our sins and is risen again.
The promise has been put into action and Peter wanted for the his audience to understand the truth of what has been happening and also allow for them to realize that they were apart of the death of Jesus Christ. The last statement that he makes is meant to open their eyes to their own sin and cause them to repent. In essence, we all played a part in the death of Christ because of our sinful ways. It was because of our darkened hearts that Jesus had to go to to the cross and Peter is highlighting a more spiritual aspect rather then a physical one.
Sin is what caused for God to put a plan of redemption into motion because of His unconditional love for us. Peter’s words also ring true in our hearts because we are still full of sin and it is because of God’s Grace that we are no longer bound to our sin and there is God’s forgiveness that is given to replace our guilt and set us free.