Last week we looked at the work of the Inclusive Spirit in the miraculous events surrounding Pentecost, which allowed the early church to surpass a level of inclusion unknown in the Middle East in the 1st century and still sought after throughout the 21st century. Yet it isn’t only the inclusive Spirit which was at work, next we see the heart of the message involves the…
Exalted Son—On July 9th, 1896, at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, IL, the presidential dark horse, long-shot, unknown, William Jennings Bryan walked onto the stage and promptly gave one of the most famous political speeches of all time rallying the crowd into a frenzied crescendo. Bryan’s address which focused on the gold-standard and his last line, “you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold” pushed him from unknown into the first spot, making him the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. Yet within months the seemingly unstoppable, immutable, uncontrollable cheers of the people went mute as he lost in the general election to William McKinley. It is a speech that is remembered, but an impact which is forgotten. Yet in the first sermon, we see Peter highlight the one who was crucified so that mankind could avoid death– Acts 2:22-24 22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[b] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
Unlike Bryan whose words seem hollow today, TIME Magazine to their credit made this observation about what makes Jesus unlike all the rest: “The memory of any stretch of years eventually resolves to a list of names, and one of the useful ways of recalling the past two millenniums is by listening the people who acquired great power. Muhammad, Catherine the Great, Marx, Gandhi, Hitler, Roosevelt, Stalin and Mao come quickly to mind. There’s no question that each of those figures changed the lives of millions and evoked responses from worship through hatred. It would require much exotic calculation, however, to deny that the single most powerful figure—not merely in these two millenniums but in all human history—has been Jesus of Nazareth…A serious argument can be made that no one else’s life has proved remotely as powerful and enduring as that of Jesus.
Were These Just Words from Peter? Again filled with the Spirit he looks to prophecy, the words of David- who pointed to the one who would come in his line, to sit on his throne, who would never taste death saying, 26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, 27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay…In fact, he goes on to point out 34-35- “34 David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”
Peter is clear: David had died, his body had decayed, but he envisioned another: the coming of the Messiah who would never decay . Again words which alone could have been interesting—like the latest John Grisham novel—it is a good read, but it doesn’t change anything. Uniquely, we find that the words of Scripture are matched with miraculous moments in history! So in an exclusive minded world—If you haven’t noticed there are a lot of things in which even the church has divided over: You can be a Calvinist or Arminian, Pelagianist or Augustinian, Amillienialist or Premillennialist or Postmillennialist, King James only or NIV, Old Earth vs. New Earth, instrumental vs. non-instrumental, contemporary vs. tradition…Oh it keeps going—scholars filling books and losing souls! While theology is important, let’s not miss the Christology which is imperative…So when you approach Scripture—we need to do approach the debatable with humility, defend essentials ferociously, and pray for the discern to know the difference.