This Jesus God Raised Up

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Devotional Word for Tuesday, June 2, 2020

On the Day of Pentecost the apostle Peter delivered an impromptu sermon to explain what was going on. A crowd of several thousand people had gathered because of the unprecedented phenomena occurring: a powerful wind, flames of fire on the heads of the Christians, and the great deeds of God being proclaimed in a multitude of languages. Of course, THE great deed of God is the sending of His Son to redeem people from their sins. In his explanation to the crowd of what’s going on, Peter, therefore, puts all the attention on Jesus the Nazarene. Though Jesus had been cruelly crucified by godless men at the insistence of the Jewish authorities, Peter explained this had been according to the precise plan of God. It wasn’t chaos, any more than the events on this Pentecost Day should be thought of as chaos. Things may seem chaotic, but God is working out His purposes. Jesus was crucified according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God. So Peter insists.

He goes on, however, to tell the crowd this crucial fact: But God raised Him [Jesus] up again . . . since it was impossible for Him to be held in its [death’s] power. [Acts 2:24] Let’s stop and think about that for a minute. Did Peter really expect people to believe that? How many people know someone who was dead – really dead, not just mostly dead – who have come back to life? I’d say the odds are zero people have! Now remember, Jesus wasn’t just resuscitated from the dead, that is, life brought back to His physical body. He was resurrected with His body being transformed into a glorified body. Still the same body, but transformed. Death no longer had any power over that body. The various persons whom Jesus raised from the dead, such as Lazarus, Jairus’s daughter, the widow’s son, they were resuscitated, but not resurrected with glorified bodies. They would, and did, die again. Not so with Jesus.

What made Peter so certain about this fact? Scripture. Specifically, he cites Psalm 16. We may confidently assume this to have been one of those texts Jesus opened the minds of His disciples to understand as related in Luke 24:44-45. What Peter is saying implicitly to the crowd is what Paul taught explicitly in Romans 6:9, namely, . . . Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. That’s an impossible statement, humanly speaking. Yet Peter proclaims it to a crowd of people who originally thought the Christians were drunk. Making statements such as this might lend credence to the charge of drunkenness! But it didn’t. 

There was a weightiness to Peter’s pronouncement. It had probity. He was utterly sober and serious. He knew the impossibility of it. This simply does not happen. Yet, Peter knew the reality of it in real time and space. This was true. Here’s what Peter said: This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. [Acts 1:32] The entire company of Christians was agreed and standing together to make this witness. 

You and I need to be gripped by the last portion of Peter’s statement: to which we are all witnesses. We too need to know the impossibility of Jesus’ resurrection never to die again, yet know the reality that such is exactly what happened. We need to tell people about it, making certain they understand the impossibility of it. That leaves only one explanation for how this happened. It is what Peter stated: This Jesus God raise up again. We need to know the power of God, and we need to point people toward it. We cannot redeem people – it’s humanly impossible. But God can – and does! Hence, we must point ourselves and all people to Him, to the Almighty, to the One who kills death, to the One who redeems to life everlasting. Such is the message that’s been sounding forth since the day of Pentecost. It is the message to which the Church is a living witness. Praise God, that He has made us part of this living witness.

Let us pray: Gracious God, You are God, indeed. You do that which no man can do. You redeem from sin. You give life everlasting. Lord Jesus, thank You for Your great redemption. Thank You for sending us forth into the world to bear that message to all. O Lord, let the message of Your redeeming power be heard, received, experienced, and lived. We ask this for Your glory and the good of all. Amen.