February 6, 2022

THE MODEL SERMON

Passage: Acts 2:14-36

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths 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.”
— Acts 2:14-36, ESV

Acts is a book of activities, detailing the work of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles, and the early church. It is also a book of sermons. There are at least twenty of them, eight by the Apostle Simon Peter alone, beginning with this one.

Simon Peter’s sermon at Pentecost is spectacularly perfect. It is God-ordained, Christ-centered, and Spirit-filled. It serves as a model sermon for all preachers and a model witness for all Christians. It is met with a model response, which we will explore next week.

For now, let’s look intently at this sermon. I think a good sermon should address questions, those that come to the surface and the ones that lurk deep within the soul. I think a good sermon should provide answers that are biblical, explanations that are factual, and inspiration that is palpable. Simon Peter’s sermon does it all, addressing three questions, each with a three-fold response.

What’s Going On?

Marvin Gaye penned and sang what became the national anthem of the Civil Rights Movement in 1971, What’s Going On. The song is more reflective that curative, but it asks a relevant and redemptive question, one it seems we are still trying to answer. Racism is a sin that separates one race from another, but any sin in itself is a plague that separates all races of people from God.

It is this chasm between God and man that was addressed to all races in Peter’s pentecostal sermon. People did want to know, what’s going on? What is this “mighty rushing wind.” What is with these Jesus followers and why are they speaking in so many other languages foreign to our ears? The speculation on the scene is that they were a bunch of drunks.

Simon Peter deflected the false accusation by pointing out it was only 9:00 a.m., “the third hour of the day.” Only diehard drunks get inebriated that early, and the early Christians were not hammered at this hour, although they did enjoy a good glass of wine from time to time. Then the Apostle answered the question, told them what was going on, biblically and factually and inspirationally.

Biblically, he pointed them to the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32, and the prophet words of King David in Psalm 16:8-11 and Psalm 110:1. What was going on is that a new age had dawned, the Messianic age, the “last days” between the first coming and the second coming of the God-incarnate, crucified, resurrected, and ascended Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. People are encouraged to “call upon the name of the Lord” before the Lord draws the curtain down on time as we know it.

Factually, he gave testimony that he and his colleagues were not intoxicated, but filled with the Holy Spirit in such a unique way that each could tell the gospel to another in a language previously unknown to them. They had walked and talked with the Son of God. Now, the Spirit of God enabled them to walk to people of all languages and talk to them about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Inspirationally, Simon Peter exhorted his fellow Christians to continue courageously, as we should to this day in speaking the gospel. Simon told the crowd to listen intently, and all people today should listen to the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ to find out what is going on between God and man. Then, Simon raises and answers the next great question about God and man, specifically about the God-man, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Who is Jesus?

Shortly before his untimely death due to cancer in 2000, the great pastor and theologian James Montgomery Boice wrote his last book with a question for the title, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? Though grace was his guise, the book cuts straight to the heart of the Jesus question. Wrote Boice, who is Jesus, what did He do, why did He do it, and what does it require of me?

Peter preached biblically about Jesus. He fulfilled the aforementioned prophecies. He is the promised Messiah, descendent of David, Lord of all creation, Savior of the world. He carried out the plans and purposes of God, while being God, to bring God and the gospel to the whole wide world, which means every nation and race and tongue (literally, on this day).

Peter preached factually about Jesus. He could, he was an eyewitness. He and others had seen with their own eyes the “mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through [Jesus].” He had lived with the Lord and watched Jesus die, albeit from a distance, in semi-hiding, “killed by the hands of lawless men.” He was a witness to the resurrection, slower of wit than the women, slower of foot than John, but a witness nonetheless, of how “God raised Him up.”

Peter preached inspirationally about Jesus. This sermon, any sermon about Jesus, certainly inspires me, and I pray you as well. The Holy Spirit has convinced me that the answers Simon Peter provides to the questions raised by Dr. Boice’s book are true and necessary. Jesus is Lord and Christ, Jesus died and rose again, Jesus saves and secures, and Jesus did all of this for me, and you.

But let us think in these last moments about what we have done for, or done to Jesus.

What Does It Matter?

I save this last question so we can carefully look at Simon Peter’s last line of the sermon. Why should we hear the gospel? Why should we care what’s going on in the church? What does Jesus really have to do with me, and what do I really have to do with Jesus? What does it matter?

It matters because you crucified Him. “God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” There were thousands there on Pentecost, fifty days after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The vast majority of them were not Roman soldiers, not Roman governors, not Sadducees nor Pharisees, not Judas Iscariot. But Peter preached, “Whom you crucified.” They crucified Him. You crucified Him. I crucified Him. We all crucified the Lord, because the Lord was crucified for sinners.

Biblically speaking, we are all sinners. “There is no one who does not sin” (ref. 1 Kings 8:46). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (ref. Romans 3:23). Sin separates us from God (ref. Isaiah 59:2). Sin kills us with spiritual death (ref. Ephesians 2:1ff). Jesus is the life we need (ref. John 14:6).
Factually, we are all sinners. Train your eye upon me and look into my heart and you will see a multitude of sins. I would see the same in you. People, then and now, are essentially egocentric. We naturally care about ourselves more than others, more than God, and a supernatural correction is required, the miracle of the new birth (ref. John 3:3ff).

Inspirationally, it should shake us that we sin, and deep conviction should be planted in our hearts when we realize it is “Jesus whom [we] crucified.” The authority of the Bible should weigh heavily upon us. The fact of our sinfulness should create deep sorrow. The inspiration of the gospel should flood our souls with the hope of forgiveness. And Simon Peter’s perfect sermon stirs the pot.

Pentecost matters today. What happened then is still going on now, the gospel is being preached in every language to practically every nation on earth. The time must be drawing near for the drawing of the curtain on time.

Simon Peter’s sermon matters today. The sometimes tone deaf disciple was in perfect pitch here. He surfaced the right questions. He gave the right answers. By hearing and heading him we can be right with God, which matters more than anything.

Jesus Christ matters, yesterday, today, and forever. He is Lord, God Almighty, Sovereign ruler over all. He is Christ, the anointed one, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. And though we crucified Him, when we call upon His name, in faith and repentance, He forgives us and gives us everlasting life with Him in His kingdom.

Heed this model sermon and become a model disciple. Love Jesus, because He first loved you. Give your life to Jesus, because He first gave His life for you. Follow Jesus, like Simon Peter and the first disciples, because this is what He commands. And when someone asks you what’s going on, or who is Jesus, or why does it matter, you’ll know what to say.

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