Peter preached one of the great sermons of the Bible on the Day of Pentecost. It is recorded in Acts 2:22-36. Historically, Pentecost marked the Jewish Feast of Weeks that began fifty days after the Passover (Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:9-11). It was also known as the Feast of Harvest (Ex. 23:16) on the Day of First Fruits (Num. 28:26).
Originally the purpose of the festival was to commemorate the harvest of the corn. Leviticus 23 sets forth the sacred nature of the holiday, and lists the acceptable sacrifices. As time passed the Jews began to associate Pentecost with the giving of the Mosaic Law. There was physical food for the body, and spiritual food for the soul.
To reinforce the spiritual significance of the festival, the Rabbis taught that the Law was given 50 days after the Exodus. There is no foundation for the teaching, but it was accepted as truth. In divine sovereignty God took the Jewish Pentecost of commemorating Law and Life, and transformed the day into a Christian hour of power manifested by the visible presence of the Holy Spirit in the symbols of wind (Acts 2:2 cf. Ezek. 37:9-14; John 3:8) and fiery tongues which divided and rested upon each person present.
This is the true baptism of the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus (Acts 1:5), anticipated by the disciples, and needed today. The purpose of this event was for the effective preaching of the gospel.
Peter baptized or immersed in the Holy Spirit, began to preach. His first point is that what the people were witnessing was not drunkenness, but the fulfillment of prophecy (Acts 2:16-21). Joel had predicted a time when God would shake heaven and earth in a mighty way. “This is the time,” said Peter, for a new age was unfolding from the past.
Having established the prophetic voice, Peter moved quickly to his second main point found in the person of Jesus Christ. It was Christ, who was causing these great events to transpire. It was Christ, who was shaking heaven and earth. It was Christ who was turning the world upside down.
Concerning Christ, Peter has many things to say.
As Jesus of Nazareth, Christ was a man approved of God. Confirmation of Divine favor could be found in the miracles of the Master. The people knew Jesus was from God, for no man could do what Jesus did unless God was with Him. But what happened?
Peter reminds his audience that they, by their voices and by their permission, took the Christ, they took Jesus of Nazareth and with wicked hands crucified and killed Him.
That the crucifixion was according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God does not mitigate the wickedness of the deed. Despite the evil which men do, God is still sovereign as Peter points out.
“God,” says Peter, “has raised Him up!” God has destroyed the chains that bound Christ. The birth pains of death are over. Why? Because it was not possible, it was not conceivable that sin, Satan, or the cells of darkness should hold Christ.
Now David himself had anticipated the resurrection of Christ. Peter reminds the audience of that truth by quoting from Psalm 16:8-11. I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
That David spoke of someone other than himself, even Christ, is evident by the fact that David is still in his sepulcher (Acts 2:29).
However, as a prophet, and believing in the promises of God that an heir would always set on His throne (Acts 2:31) David predicted the resurrection of Christ. David foresaw that the soul of Jesus would not be left in the sphere of the dead, nor would his flesh see corruption.
Because Jesus is alive, He is worthy of being exalted even to the highest of heaven. And that is what God has done for His Son. Jesus has been exalted to be by the right hand of God in the place of power.
Lest anyone believes that David was referring to his own personal exaltation Peter again reminds all that David’s body is still in the grave. David never ascended into the heaven’s bodily but he did say. Acts 2:34-35 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
In light of all these prophetic truths supported by verifiable facts, and attested by supernatural events, there is only one conclusion. The Jesus whom men crucified is both Lord and Savior.
The response for the audience that day was one of terror and conviction. Men and women finally perceived the great evil they had done. They had tried to kill the Lord of Glory. Someone cried out in despair, “What shall we do?” Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call (Acts 2:38-39). And there was gospel obedience. Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. My objective in reviewing the great gospel doctrine of the Ascension of the Resurrected Christ, is to remind the Church of the absolute sovereignty of Christ over the affairs of this world. Jesus Christ is the King of kings, who now rules from the heavens over the affairs of men. Of the Royal Reign of Christ, the Church can be confident of the following.
It is a reign of righteousness. There is evil within the kingdom of this earth, but even sin is under the control of the Sovereign.
It is a reign that is eternal. The Lord’s control over the affairs of the Universe is secure. No one will ever wrestle authority from Him.
It is a reign that is mysterious. We do not know what all the Lord will allow, or for what reasons but faith trusts the Sovereign.
It is a reign over the material and spiritual. One day there will be a more visible manifestation of the reign of Christ. In the end, the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of God. Rev 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.