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Peter's Presentation of Christ

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Matthew White The Stand Writer MORE

In Acts 3, as Peter begins his second sermon after Pentecost, he presents Christ to the Jewish crowd by using five different titles to describe Him.

I was reminded that titles often become so commonplace to us, we forget the underlying characteristic the title is describing.

For example, to many, I’m known as Bro. Matthew, to my children, daddy, and to others, just Matthew.

Each of those denotes a different role or responsibility – pastor/preacher, father, husband, son, friend, co-worker, etc.

We are accustomed to hearing the various names of Christ – Jesus, Son of God, Messiah, Redeemer, Lord, Bread of Life, Lamb of God, The Way, and many more.

We can hear them so often, however, we fail to slow down and consider the many wonderful attributes of our Lord the Scripture is pointing out to us. They have very deep significance.

The five that Peter used in Acts 3 were purposeful and meaningful.

  1. Christ as the Servant

Verse 13 begins by saying, “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus...”

The Greek word for “Son” is best understood to mean “servant, slave, an attendant, a king's attendant, minister.”

Because it was familiar to the Jews, Peter used the title “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers,” to connect the God they believed in, to the Man Jesus, they had killed.

At the same time, he makes a distinction between God the Father and God the Son, telling them that God the Son, came to be a Servant.

The idea of God being a servant of mankind was a difficult concept to grasp and is partly why they rejected Christ.

Jesus said in Matthew 20:28 “… the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

In John 6:38 He said, “ … I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”

And then in John 13:5, after the Lord’s Super, we find Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Washing the feet of another was one of the most humble acts of service a man could offer.

And then of course in the supreme act of service, Christ offered Himself on the cross, a service rendering man the ability to now come to God through His sacrifice.

Christ came as a humble Servant.

  1. Christ as the Savior

Again in verse 13, Peter said, “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus...”

Most believers know that the name Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua – which means “the Lord is salvation.”

In fact, before Jesus was even born, the angel revealed to Joseph in a dream, “… thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Many people today believe in the man Jesus.

Mormons believe in Jesus. Jehovah’s Witness’ believe in Jesus. Muslims believe in Jesus. Even many agnostics and atheists, and unbelieving Bible scholars believe in the historical Jesus.

They acknowledge Jesus as a good man, or teacher, or a prophet, or at the very least a historical figure, but they fail to acknowledge Him as Savior.

John MacArthur said,

“… to imagine a Jesus who was not the Savior is as foolish as to imagine a Shakespeare who was not a writer, or a Rembrandt who was not a painter. His name is Jesus not because He is our example, guide, leader, or friend, though He is all of those things. His name is Jesus because He is our Savior.”

The familiar words of C.S. Lewis are fitting here:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

Any person or religion that fails to acknowledge Jesus as the Savior of the world is wrong.

  1. Christ as the Sanctifier

In verse 14 Peter described Jesus as “… the Holy One and the Just …”

The word “Holy One” comes from a word (hagios) that means “to be separated for God.”

The Jews couldn’t recognize Jesus as holy, but even the demons knew He was. In Luke 4:34, the demons said, “… Let [us] alone; what have we to do with thee, [thou] Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the (hagios) Holy One of God.”

The word “Just” comes from a word (dikaios) that means “innocent, faultless, guiltless, righteous.”

Just as the Jews couldn’t recognize Jesus as holy, they also failed to see that He was Just.

But even the pagans could.

Pilate told “… the chief priests and [to] the people, I find no fault in this man” (Luke 23:4).

Pilate’s wife was so troubled she sent word to her husband, saying, “… Have thou nothing to do with that just (dikaios) man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him” (Matthew 27:19).

The Roman Centurion after Christ’s crucifixion recognized His innocence: “Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous (dikaios) man” (Luke 23:47).

It is only through a completely and perfectly holy and just person that we could ever hope to be made holy and righteous ourselves.

Because of His holiness and righteousness, His sacrifice was accepted on our behalf.

He became our propitiation, our substitute.

He appeased God’s wrath, took our place, thereby removing the condemnation of our sin, and imputing upon us His righteousness, when we trust Him as Savior.

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).

By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once [for all] (Hebrews 10:10).

For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

If we have any hope of being holy; if we have any hope of being just or righteous, it is only through Jesus Christ.

Try as we may, on our own we can’t live good enough, be good enough, serve enough, pray enough, or anything else to attain right standing before God.

  1. Christ as the Source

In verse 15 Peter referred to Jesus as, “… the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead...”

The Greek word translated “Prince of life,” is the word archegos. The root of that word is arche.

The first four letters of that word likely look very familiar to you – arch.

They are the first four letters of the word architecture or architect. And in fact, arche is the root from which we get our English word architect.

What is an architect? A master planner and designer.

It’s the same word the writer of Hebrews uses to describe Jesus as “the captain” of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10) and then as “the author” of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Christ is the master architect and the source of our salvation. He is the source of all that is.

This wasn’t a mere claim. It could be proven that He was the source of life, because only the one who created life, could defeat death, and that is exactly what Christ did with His resurrection.

Peter made sure to include that part of the story: In verse 15 he said of Christ that “… God hath raised [Him] from the dead.”

  1. Christ as the Sufferer

In verse 18, Peter spoke about how it had been prophesied, “… that Christ should suffer,” and that He had indeed “fulfilled” that prophecy.

Few descriptions in Scripture capture the essence of Christ’s suffering as Isaiah 53.

Here’s the thing though. The Jews didn’t want a sufferer. They wanted someone to lead an uprising and overthrow Rome.

They wanted power and control. The idea of a sufferer meant weakness in their minds.

John Phillips sums it up well:

“They were looking for a Messiah, but they wanted a militant Messiah, one who would smash the power of Rome and make Jerusalem the capital of a new world empire. They were not interested in a meek Messiah. What they were looking for was a ruler; God sent them a Redeemer. They wanted a sovereign; God sent them a Savior. Their Scriptures prophesied both, but they blindly overlooked such references to the Sufferer…”

Ultimately, the Jews missed Jesus because He didn’t fit into their preconceived ideas of what their Messiah would be.

They had made up their own Jesus, and it wasn’t Him.

Sadly, people do the same today. I’m sure we’ve all heard people say things like “Well the Jesus I know is too loving to let someone go to hell.” Or maybe, “The Jesus I know loves and accepts all, whatever your gender, your orientation, whatever your sexual attraction,” and of course, the list goes on.

People construct their own version of Jesus. They don’t like the Jesus who says if a man wants to follow Christ he must “deny himself, and take up his cross” (Matthew 16:24) and “losing one’s life” (Matthew 10:39) for Christ.

Jesus came as the Sufferer so that ultimately He might become the Savior and make a means of reconciliation between man and God possible.

As we study God’s Word, may we slow down when we come across the various names and descriptions of our Lord.

There is often more there than meets the eye, and we do ourselves a disservice and miss a blessing by simply rushing past it.

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