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Easter 2017

We Are All Witnesses

Peter preached it almost 2000 years ago, and today, we as Christians are still witnesses of this message.

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Sermon Notes

Acts 2:32

After Jesus rose from the dead he appeared to his disciples and followers many times over the course of 40 days, then before their eye He ascended into the heavens and told them to wait in Jerusalem.

They did, and one day incredible things started happening, a crowd gathered, and Peter preached to them the first message about Jesus’ resurrection. It wasn’t Easter, but it was an Easter message because it was about Jesus’ death and resurrection and the hope it gives.

It wasn’t just a message about the resurrection of Jesus, it was a message about the gospel.

Peter has just quoted a portion of one of David’s Psalms that many of the people there would have been familiar with.

Acts 2:29-41

This passage goes on to tell us that the people who became believers had a wonderful fellowship together and that they gathered to praise the Lord regularly.

That’s what we are doing this morning.

We love to gather because we love to praise Jesus and we love one another-

Would you stand and greet one another as Derek & Halie come to lead us in a couple more songs of praise?

For several years we setup a dunking booth at the Town of Chandler’s annual celebration and it made pretty good money as a fundraiser for the youth group.

People loved to dunk a baptist pastor!

I remember one lady played at least 8 times! At 3 throws per dollar that’s nearly 25 times she tried to dunk me!

We always borrowed the dunking booth from another church.

One year as I was taking it back when I crossed the Lloyd expressway, the trailer separated from the truck!

Can you imagine cruising down the Lloyd and seeing a dunking booth just rolling along by itself? (Most Evansville natives would be probably be like, yep, just another day on the Lloyd.)

That’s what I was picturing when I heard it separate- but thankfully what I heard was the trailer pulling back on the chains-

though it had separated, the chains which act as a safety kept the dunking booth connected.

I got out to figure out what was happening, and then I saw that the trailer was still connected to the hitch, but the hitch had slipped out of the receiver.

The pin that holds the hitch in the receiver had fallen out…

I looked back and there it was, sitting in the middle of the intersection of the Lloyd and there was no way I was going to be able to get it…

So here I had my big chevy pick up and this big trailer and I was stuck because I was missing this one little piece.

This one little piece held it all together…

Would you believe a kind man stopped seeing our trouble and gave me the lynchpin out of his receiver and we were able to get back on the road??? That essential little piece was so important.

As Peter stood up to preach the first message on the resurrection, He realized how important of a piece it was- He realized it connected the Old and New Testaments- He could see that it was what the old prophets and writers were speaking about- He could see that it was what connected them to the work that God was going to do in the future.

It was an essential piece of the whole narrative of God’s work and it was a lynchpin in the gospel- but it was also the hardest part of the gospel for people to believe.

1. The resurrection is the hardest part of the gospel to believe.

That’s why Peter has started this long discourse on the prophecy of David- He’s building a case for the resurrection.
He’s already spoken of prophecy in the book of Joel, now he focuses on the prophecy in one of David’s songs. A song that David would have written 1,000 years before Jesus was even born as a man.

We’ve just spent the past 3 Sundays looking at Psalm 22 wherein David describes in great detail much of what would happen to Jesus on the cross.
Here Peter is quoting Psalm 16 which points to the resurrection.

Peter also builds his case by pointing out in verse 22 and 33 that Jesus’ authenticity has been validated by the many signs and wonders that He did before the crucifixion and was doing that very day when Peter was preaching…

However, people in the crowd still had questions, they still had doubts, after all Peter is saying that Jesus ROSE FROM THE DEAD…

What we see in Acts is that when these disciples go abroad teaching this same message that people will often listen with interest until they get to the part about the resurrection,

then they laughed.

So Peter lays out the most convincing piece of evidence.

Eyewitness testimony.

He says in verse 32

“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.”

Having someone vouch for something personally is powerful.

Think about it, are you more convinced that a restaurant is worth trying if you see a commercial or hear your friend rave about how good it is???

Companies know this, that’s why every cheesy and lame infomercial has the amazed assistant…

“Whoa! It peels potatoes so easily!”

“Wow! It cooked an incredible pot roast in only 48 seconds!”

“Oh my! I can’t believe that knife that cut through an old boot is slicing these tomatoes with such ease!”

I know what you might be thinking, Pastor Daniel you just said that their eyewitness testimony is powerful and then you gave examples of eyewitness testimony that is clearly lame, tacky, and misleading.

Let me point out a major difference… people on infomercials are getting paid with money and exposure…

That’s not what Peter and the rest of the all he gestures to will receive.

In fact, when Peter says we all are witnesses he uses a word that was common for witness in the greek- “Martus” from which we get our word Martyrs.

Peter and most of the rest would be killed for their faith in Christ. Martyrs make awful liars.

When you look at Peter and the rest that he’s referring to, you gotta decide between 3 options.

First a con man- Is Peter making all of this up to receive some money, power, prestige?

What about the rest of them? Are they all in on a big, long con in order to get something in return?

Crazy person. I’ve known some crazy people and I bet you have too- If you don’t know a crazy person, you might be crazy.

Peter wasn’t speaking gibberish. He was making a logical argument and he wasn’t speaking of something that he read on the internet or that he had gotten an email about, he was talking about what he had seen with his own eyes.

Peter is either a con man, a crazy person, or a confident witness…

I love that Peter says “We ALL are witnesses”

I can just see him gesturing to the rest of the group as he says that… When he gestures back to the group of about 120 who had been meeting in the upper room to pray ever since Jesus ascended into the heavens, he gesturing to a group of every day people.

He’s gesturing to James and John, brothers who were so rough and tumble that they earned the nickname “sons of thunder.”

He’s gesturing to Mary Magdelene who was once so lost and broken…

He’s gesturing to Thomas who every time he pops up in the record of the gospels he’s complaining or doubting or both.

These people are so ordinary that when the signs and wonders start to take place, some of the people who gather surmise that they must be drunk because that seemed more plausible than what was really happening…

The beginning of Peter’s message is literally an explanation that they are in fact not drunk, but filled with the Spirit…

That’s what I love about Faith Church.

It’s full of everyday people who have witnessed the power of Jesus changing their lives.

Here at Faith Church we’ve got people like Brandy who when she came to Christ, she was so broken and in need of His grace.

People like Halie who sang for us this morning, who when she came to our church didn’t want to be here and was angry.

People like Ben who were familiar with God and Jesus, but when he came in contact with the power of the word of God had his entire life rearranged….

Let me tell you how that happened…

Peter told them of the resurrection, but he wasn’t done.

He also needed to point out their guilt.

The resurrection may have been the hardest part to believe, but their guilt was the hardest part to hear

2. Guilt is the hardest part of the gospel to hear.

Peter says to them in verse 36, This Jesus whom you crucified.

Perhaps in the crowd there were people who had been there the day that Jesus was crucified- perhaps there were people in the crowd that Peter was speaking to that had actually cried out crucify him! as some people did at Jesus’ trial.

But it’s doubtful that they all did- however whether or not they had outright rejected Jesus like some had, they hadn’t accepted him or committed to follow him either.

If we are honest, that’s where some of you are at right now- you’re not opposed to Jesus, but you’re not following Him either.

However, in reaction to what Peter said in verse 36 they respond with guilt and conviction because verse 37 says they were pierced to their heart by this- they said, what must we do!

Perhaps they hadn’t driven the nails into Jesus’ hands and feet so they didn’t have that to feel guilty about, but they had missed Jesus… They had missed their chance to follow Him…

They may not have killed Him themselves, but they were filled with regret nonetheless.

You see, guilt is a tricky thing.

Some people feel guilty over the smallest of things, while others feel no remorse for what we would qualify as the most heinous of crimes.

Sandy Wilson served as Pastor for a large church in Memphis and he told the story of one time he was speaking in another state and a woman came up to him after the service and said, I’m not sure if you know her, but my aunt lives right across the street from your church.

He said, oh yes. I have met her. Tell you what, when I get back to town I’ll give her a call and let her know I met you here at this revival service.

So when he got back to town he gave the woman a call.

He said, Hi this is Sandy Wilson fro——

She cut him off, oh you’re calling about the pinecones! I’m so sorry!

He said, uhhh. She said, oh no, you weren’t calling about the pinecones?
no. Well I guess I might as well confess now….

I needed some pinecones for a centerpiece I was making and we didn’t have any in our yard so I came over the church yard and stole some and when I looked up you were coming out the door of the church and I just knew you must have seen me.

Wilson said, well I called because I met your niece while I was out of town and she was really nice and I wanted to just tell you that she says hello, and Margaret, take all the pinecones you want.

Sometimes guilt mounts up over the smallest of things, but then there are times that we get good at ignoring or numbing guilt.

That didn’t happen to the people here in Acts 2. They felt their guilt sharply. They felt they’re need for absolution, to be made innocent, to make it right, so they cried out what should we do?

Guilt is so unpleasant and really unpopular, so much so that many people have stopped telling this part of the gospel- they don’t want to tell this part…

Peter didn’t hold back, after gesturing to all that had been witnesses, he points his finger at the crowd and says, you rejected Jesus.

Guilt may not be the good looking side of the gospel, but it’s part of the gospel. It’s essential… because the guilt piece of the gospel connects us with the next part which I think is the loveliest part.

The resurrection may have been the hardest part to swallow and our guilt may be the hardest part to hear, but forgiveness is the hardest part to walk away from

3. Forgiveness is the hardest part of the gospel for people to reject.

The people say to Peter, with this guilt piercing their hearts, what should we do?

Peter says turn to the Lord for the forgiveness of your sins.

You see, as they would go on to talk about, the reason that Jesus went to the cross was for our sins.

That’s the reason He died.

Peter says, forgiveness of sin in the name of Jesus.

Jesus went to the cross in our name, we are forgiven in his name…

Not for crimes that he had committed, because he committed none, He didn’t need to be punished for His own sake, He needed to be punished for our sakes.

Peter and the rest weren’t just witnesses to the resurrection, 

they were witnesses to forgiveness as well.

They had seen when people came to Jesus for physical healing that they would walk away with their sins forgiven too…

At times instead of saying get up and walk or you can now see, Jesus would say, your sins are forgiven…

That was the greater miracle…

Peter knew all about guilt and forgiveness…

You see on the night Jesus was arrested after trying to stick up for Jesus initially, Peter would deny He even knew Jesus.

Peter was so guilt-ridden over this that he goes out into the wilderness alone and weeps bitterly.

Guilt was piercing Peter’s heart.

After Jesus raises from the dead, Peter is amazed, but he’s still carrying this guilt. John tells us in his closing chapter that Jesus meets Peter and the rest on the shore one morning and he’s built a fire and made them breakfast.

He talks with Peter and it’s all a sign that it’s been forgiven… Jesus is reconciling Peter to Himself…

Peter felt unworthy and was considering returning to fishing, Peter felt he had never been cut out for being a disciple and Jesus follower. He was always messing up and this last mess up, it was the biggest and he felt awful about it…

But Jesus coming to Peter and meeting him on the shore- that’s what Jesus does. He comes to us, with forgiveness and love, He comes to us and embraces us.

Do you remember the movie Babe?

Looking back at it now, it seems really weird but in 1995 a movie entitled Babe won the Golden Globe for Best Picture and it was nominated for 7 academy awards.

It was all about a pig that became a sheep herder.

The plot is that Farmer Hogget who trains award winning sheep herding dogs finds himself without one his prized sheep dogs, so babe, the pig takes his place.

Everyone is really impressed but the duck comes to Babe and says, it’s really great that you’re doing the whole sheep herding thing and all, but you need to know that farmers eat pigs.

They love dogs and they eat bacon. 

So once the farmer doesn’t need you any more, you’ll be a christmas ham…

Babe is heartbroken and runs away.

Farmer Hogget goes looking for Babe and finds him lost, muddy, so he brings him home into the house, cleans him up and feeds him, but babe the pig is still despondent. So the farmer starts singing to try and cheer babe the pig up.

Then he dances an irish jig while he sings.

Here’s the farmer singing and dancing over this pig…

When Peter says We ALL are witnesses- He’s saying all of us.

When Peter says return to Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, He’s saying we’re all welcome, even the pigs and the black sheep, even the strays…

This is the beauty of the gospel. 

This is the lovely part- the part that’s hard to walk away from-

The part that makes you want to sing and maybe even dance a little irish jig.

It’s the part that’s hard to walk away from…

Even though the resurrection would have been hard for them to believe in and their guilt and sinfulness would have been hard to hear, it was to hard to walk away from the beauty of the gospel…

So instead they embraced it and experienced the forgiveness of their sins and the cleansing of their guilt.

 

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