Thursday, January 31

Lord & Messiah

Today’s reading focuses on Peter’s Pentecost sermon, but we need to talk about it before we read it. This speech is hugely significant because it is the first time a disciple publicly teaches Scripture and proclaims who Jesus is. Because of its importance, we feel like we should be really moved by this speech, but if we’re honest…it’s a bit strange. Peter mostly quotes Old Testament Scripture, and not the familiar prophecies from Isaiah about virgin births and suffering servants. He’s talking about blood moons from Joel and patching together a whole bunch of Psalms…and he doesn’t mention one of the four spiritual laws. He doesn’t even use the phrase ‘died for your sins.’ Peter could have learned a thing or two about proper evangelistic technique from Billy Graham.

Peter wasn’t addressing a crowd of 20th century Americans, though. Peter was talking to first-century Jews, and what he was saying was shocking. Every single Jew was waiting for one thing: the Day of the Lord. The Day when their God, Yahweh, would show up and execute judgment on their enemies and save His people. The day when He would put His anointed King (Messiah is Hebrew for “anointed one”) on David’s throne, forever. Based on prophecies like Joel, they knew that day would be accompanied by a massive outpouring of the Spirit and great signs and wonders—maybe not blood and fire and smoke, but something equally supernatural and unmistakable. Something like mighty wind and flames of fire that did not burn and the miraculous gift of speaking in different language. 

These supernatural events at Pentecost are what Peter points to as proof that the Day of the Lord had arrived. But if the Day of the Lord had arrived, the obvious questions was—where is the Messiah? Peter’s answer: Jesus. Peter then begins a grand exposition of well-known prophetic Messianic texts. He expertly stitches together a variety of Psalms, all of which were known as “royal psalms.” These psalms referenced Israel’s kings, usually David, but also came to be understood as prophecies about the coming King from the line of David who would rule forever. Using those words, which would have been familiar and hopeful and cherished to this Jewish audience, Peter demonstrates how Jesus’ death—which seemed like a pretty big disqualifier for being the Messiah—was actually part of the prophecy, because it is only through death that God could resurrect the Messiah to eternal life—and eternal rule.

And after he delivers the shocking news that the man crucified a few short weeks ago is not only alive but also the Messiah, Peter delivers the biggest shocker of all: He is Lord. While Lord was a political title, it was also the name used by Jews in place of God’s holy name, Yahweh. Messiah was a political designation, and by quoting Psalm 110 (which would become the most quoted Old Testament Scripture in the New Testament) Peter is pointing out that even David knew his own descendant would be superior to him. Would be his Lord. Would be Yahweh.

Our modern western ears may not hear it, but Peter is making radical claims, and he has the power of the Spirit to back up those claims.

You may be reading Peter’s sermon on a 21st century smart phone, but listen with first century Jewish ears. The marvel of technology in your hand pales in comparison to the marvel of what Peter is declaring: This Jesus is Messiah and Lord.

14 But Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them: "Men of Judah and all you residents of Jerusalem, let me explain this to you and pay attention to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it's only nine in the morning. 16 On the contrary, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 

17 And it will be in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. 18 I will even pour out My Spirit on My male and female slaves in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will display wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below: blood and fire and a cloud of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and remarkable Day of the Lord comes. 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

22 "Men of Israel, listen to these words: This Jesus the Nazarene was a man pointed out to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through Him, just as you yourselves know. 23 Though He was delivered up according to God's determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail Him to a cross and kill Him. 24 God raised Him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be held by it. 25 For David says of Him: 

I saw the Lord ever before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced. Moreover, my flesh will rest in hope, 27 because You will not leave me in Hades or allow Your Holy One to see decay. 28 You have revealed the paths of life to me; You will fill me with gladness in Your presence. 

29 "Brothers, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing this in advance, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He was not left in Hades, and His flesh did not experience decay. 32 "God has resurrected this Jesus. We are all witnesses of this. 33 Therefore, since He has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He has poured out what you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into the heavens, but he himself says: 

The Lord declared to my Lord, 

'Sit at My right hand 

35 until I make Your enemies Your footstool.' 

36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!"  

(Act 2:14-36 CSB)


Reflection

Critics of Christianity often claim that neither Jesus nor his disciples ever said that Jesus was God. How does the declaration “Jesus is Lord” declare that truth even more profoundly? How should that truth affect the way we relate to Him? How does His position as Messiah (or Christ, the Greek translation) affect the way we relate to Him?

Prayer

Jesus, You are both Lord and Messiah, seated at the right hand of the Father. Proven by miracles and exalted by Your resurrection, You are my God and King. I worship you. I submit to you. I thank you. I adore you. Amen.


Pick Four More Activities

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  • Listen and Worship.

  • Pray a Psalm.

  • Read a Book.

  • Retell the Gospel to Yourself.

  • Take Some Notes on Today's Devotional.

  • Pray for Yourself, Your Family, Your Church, and the Lost.

  • Memorize a Verse.

  • List Five Things You're Thankful For.

  • Encourage Someb

Megan NessonComment