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Acts #6 (chapter 2:23-24)
The Book of Acts
Preaching Jesus of Nazareth, Part 1
Acts 2:22
 
When we last met, we were looking at the sermon Peter preached on the day of Pentecost.  I pointed out that in verses 14-21, he offers an introduction, which really nothing other than an explanation of what has happened on that day and how it fulfills prophecy. 
 
Then, beginning in verse 22, he begins to develop the theme of his sermon which centers on the life, death and ministry of Jesus.  In a little while, he will extend an invitation and call them to respond, but the response is to what he says about Jesus. 
 
Now, just to refresh out memory, Peter ends his introduction by saying, "What you've seen and experienced here today is the initiation of the last days that were prophesied by Joel.  It is a time when God's Spirit will be poured out on mankind and that will be evidenced in these various ways that he mentions in verses 17-21. 
 
Now his Jewish hearers knew he was talking about the time when their Messiah would come.  So a very interesting question is raised by his introduction and that is, "If this is the Messianic era, and if what we’re seeing is what Joel prophesied hundreds of years before, then who is the Messiah?"
 
And that is exactly what Peter deals with beginning in verse 22 as He turns their attention to Jesus.
 
Notice how he begins:  “Men of Israel, hear these words.”  That’s preacher language. "You better listen up."  "You need to hear what I'm saying."  A lot of people think preacher are arrogant becasue they say things like that.  There may be some who are, but much more than arrogance, it is confidence in the Word of God. 
 
God has a message.  I've been sent to deliver it.  And if you know what's good for you, you'll listen to what I'm saying.
 
verse 22-23 "Him. . .and he goies on"
 
But for tonight, I just want to settle in on this one verse for a moment.
 
Notice that Peter identifies the Messiah as "Jesus of Nazareth".
 
The very ones the leaders had rejected, Peter says, is your Messiah.  The very ones the people had scorned, and ignored, and treated with indifference, and unbelief, and ultimately crucified.  The Galilean whom they deemed a demon-possessed, insane imposter and blasphemer who was empowered by Satan, was the One you were looking for. 
 
And he makes sure to point out that he was Jesus of Nazareth.  Why does he say that?  Because that’s exactly how they identified Him. That's how he was commonly known.  In fact, when the soldiers came to the Garden they said they were looking for "Jesus of Nazareth".  When Pilate wrote a sign to hang over the head of Christ on the cross, he wrote "Jesus of Nazareth".
 
So Peter says, "Listen up!  You remember Jesus of Nazareth don't you? He was the one you blasphemed.  You said nothing good could come from Nazareth.  You called him that to insult Him.  But He wasn't a blasphemer and something not only good, but perfect came from Nazareth because this Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah."
 
And then he immediately moves into lifting up Christ and he does it in four ways.  He talks about His life, His death, His resurrection, and His exaltation.  He preaches Christ with the goal of persuading people that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.  And it seems to me he did a reasonably good job because when he gives the invitation that that day, 3,000 people were convinced.
 
Tonight, we'll look only at what he says about his life. Look how verse 22 begins.  He begins by addressing the “Men of Israel.”  Israel. 
 
Immediately we are confronted with the grace of God.  It might make better sense if Peter had said, "Now all of you who don’t live in Israel and weren’t a part of crucifying Jesus, I want you to know that God is offering you salvation."
 
But he begins with those who are guilty of the crucifixion of Christ. They have just killed the Messiah, and yet, they are the first to hear the gospel message.  Christ is their Messiah first and foremost!  He came in the beginning to Israel.  Salvation, first of all, was for the Jews.  They were so hateful of Christ that they finally chased Him all the way to the cross. 
 
And on the day fo the crucifixion, Jerusalem became the most guilty city on the planet, and in some ways the most guilty city in the history of the planet.  In fact, the Bible calls Jerusalem “spiritual Sodom and Egypt” to emphasize its guilt. 
 
So to say "men of Israel", is to speak amazing words of grace.  Grace upon grace upon grace.  For all the three years of his ministry, our Lord had addressed them, and addressed them, and done miracles, and spoken words, and gave them evidence of who He was, and offered them salvation, and forgiveness of sin, and the way into heaven, and the door to the kingdom.
 
And it would only be right and just  that because of their rejection of Him, the would be forever without hope, but that isn't the case,  Here we are 40 days after they were screaming “Crucify Him,” and 3,000 of them were welcomed into the salvation.  That may be the greatest demonstration of grace ever given.
 
Think about it like this:  If crucifying Jesus was the greatest sin ever committed, then is it not true that forgiving and saving the very ones who committed the crime the greatest grace ever shown?
 
that’s the greatest grace ever.  Jesus of Nazareth, he says, the name by which the Lord was commonly known, the very name, as I said, that was written in letters over His head when He was hanging on the cross.  Peter loved to use that name.  He loved to use that name.  He loved to use the name that they used to heap scorn on Jesus.  He loved to use the name by which they mocked Him.  “Jesus of Nazareth?  That no-place town in Galilee?” 
 
By the way, did you ever notice how Peter loved to use the reference to Nazareth?  I think it's because the absurdity of anything good coming out of Nazareth was some sweet!  And it seems to me that every opportunity he had, he mentioned that JEsus was from Nazareth. 
 
For instance, in chapter 3, Peter goes into the temple.  He runs into a man who is lame from birth.  He sits at the gate every day, the gate he called "Beautiful", and he begs because he’s severely disabled. 
 
So Peter, steps up, and in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, says, in verse 6, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  Walk.” 
 
And everyone in the room is immediately taken back to the sign that hung over the head of Jesus on the cross, and they have to reconcile what he's jsut said and the power that enables it and what they did to Jesus.
 
In chapter 4, John and he get arrested. And the Bible tells us that being filled with the Holy Spirit,  he stands up to preach.  And he says, “Rulers, elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man,” the man that we just read about, “as to how this man has been made well, then let it be known to all of you,” now he’s talking to the leaders,” and all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,” he says it again, “whom you crucified, this man has been healed.” 
 
 
 
In chapter 10, verse 38, Peter once again says, , “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” 
 
It's interesting that Jesus never called Himself Jesus of Nazareth.  He always called Himself the Son of man.  But Peter uses that reference time and time again because it takes their assessment of Who He was, which they intended as a mockery, and turns it right back to them and extends through it an offer of grace. 
 
Now, back to chapter 2 and the sermon, Peter says,   “Men of Israel” and demonstrates the grace of God. 
 
Then he says, of Jesus, that He is
 
"a man attested by God to you".
 
What does it mean to be "attested"?  The primary meaning of the word is to describe something as being on display or exhibited. 
 
And simply put, Peter is telling them that God put Jesus on display or exhibition.  The word can also mean to bring proof or evidence or to proclaim something.  And all three uses are true of Jesus. 
 
The nuances of that word make it a perfect word to use to describe what God did through Jesus.  This Jesus of Nazareth was a man God put on display through Whom He brought evidence and proclaimed the truth. 
 
Or if I was preaching that, I might way it like this:    God exhibited Him, God validated Him, and God proclaimed Him. 
 
God exhibits Him in human flesh, proved Him by infallible evidence through the miracles, and declared Him through His own Word, out of the mouth of the Messiah in personal testimony to be the Son of God, the Savior, the Promised Christ.
 
And notice in verse 22, how God did that in particular.
 
verse 22
 
Those three words represent three aspects of our Lord’s miraculous works: their nature, their appearance, and their intention. 
 
- Their nature is they were miracles; they were supernatural. 
 
- Their appearance is they were wondrous.  That speaks of something startling, something that grabs your attention, something that is completely out of the ordinary. 
 
- Their intention or purpose is they were signs; a sign  is to point to something.  In this case, it was   
spiritual truth of Who He was. 
 
So all the amazing things Jesus did were what God used to exhibit Jesus, validate His ministry and proclaim His message. They were mighty, powerful miraculous manifestations of the power of God, to create wonder in order to point to spiritual truth.
 
And they were inescapable.  Peter continues by saying,
 
verse 22c
 
"as you yourselves know"
 
It was inescapable!  They all knew.  So when he says to them, "which God did through Him in your midst and you yourselves also know", this is a really serious indictment of the Jews. 
 
They have sinned against evidence.  And the evidence was presented by God Himself in order to validate Jesus and they ignored it. 
 
But they couldn’t plead ignorance.  They couldn’t say, “We didn’t know.  We didn’t know about the miracles.  We didn’t have the proof.”  They did.  They had it again, and again, and again, and again.  They sinned against light.  The most severe of all sins. 
 
That’s why our Lord said, for example, to the city of Capernaum, it’s going to be better for the people of Sodom, the home of homosexuals who tried to rape the angels in Sodom, going to be better for them in hell than it’s going to be for the people in Capernaum, Jewish religious people in the synagogue, because of the works that were done there.  If the works that were done there had been done in Sodom, they would’ve repented.
 
So, they sinned against light.  They couldn’t plead ignorance.  There was no excuse.  God did the work through Christ by means of the Holy Spirit. 
And by the way, Jesus never claimed that what He did was His own; He said, “I only do what the Father tells Me.  I only do what the Father shows Me.  I only do what the Father wills Me to do.  I only do what I see the Father doing.  The Father works and I work.” 
 
And Peter is simply pointing out that He did it in plain sight right in front of them, and they had seen it all.  So that's how Peter begins his message.  It's not a cute little humorous story that relaxes the audience and gets them int he mood to listen. 
 
It is a powerful, blistering indictment of their sin in which he says, "You better listen and listen good because I'm here to tell you, you have seen the beginning of the Messianic age, which means the end is inevitable.  The beginning is hopeful; the end is disastrous.  Now is the time that everyone should call on the name of the Lord and be saved.  This is the Messianic age. 
 
And the Messiah is none other than Jesus of Nazareth, who was attested by God, who performed through Him miracles and wonders and signs, which you all know. 
 
He’s got them pinned down and he's just getting started!  It is impossible for them to escape the reality of what he is saying.  They have seen the phenomena that indicates the Messianic age has begun.  And Joel’s prophesy has been fulfilled.  They have seen the miracles. 
 
Then,  in verse 23, he turns to the death of Christ.  And we'll look at that next time we meet. 
 
Let’s pray.
 
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