We left off earlier after Peter’s citation of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 (cf. Acts 2:17-21). Our text picks up in verse 22 as Peter moves forward to drive his point home. I would certainly recommend that you read the text at this point, if you haven’t already. He mentions the name Jesus of Nazareth in that verse, reminding them that He performed miracles and wonders in the midst of the people which were intended by God to confirm His identity and authority, and that his hearers knew all about these things. Then Peter goes right to the nitty-gritty:
This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. (2:23)
This is an amazing contrast to the Peter who not long before had denied Jesus three times and gone into hiding, and it might even be called a reckless thing to say to a large crowd of Jews in Jerusalem at that point in time, yet Peter boldly proclaimed the truth. He continued in his proclamation of the truth by boldly announcing that Jesus had been raised from the dead in 2:24-28, including another quotation, this time from Psalm 16. His explanation of the day’s events is wrapped up in 2:29-33, and then Peter closes his remarks with this:
For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”’
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” (2:34-36)
Let’s pause a moment and take in the power of what we’ve been reading of the address by Peter at Pentecost…
Peter began to address this very large crowd of thousands when people in the crowd began to say that he and the other Apostles were drunk (2:13-14). This was not only silly, as Peter pointed out, but it was an attempt to marginalize the magnitude of the coming of Holy Spirit, which had been God’s purpose all along. Yet the Holy Spirit, through Peter, took that slur and turned it completely around on the scoffers and used the occasion as an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel of Christ in a most convincing way; who could argue with it?
Apparently no one dared to do so. I would suggest to you that the coming of the Holy Spirit was the greatest miracle of that day, but the working of the Holy Spirit through Peter comes in a very close second. Look what happened next:
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (2:37)
Where are the scoffers now?
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. (2:38-41)
Here’s a question to ponder:
When did Peter become such a Bible scholar that he could cite and interpret Scripture so insightfully that people would see truths they had never before seen? Peter was a fisherman, not a theologian; he was a working man, not a Rabbi − where did this come from?
Another question might be, what had Peter really done?
The answer is simplicity itself: Not much. On that amazing day, the only thing Peter had done was show up, and get out of the Spirit’s way; the Spirit did the rest, and about 3,000 people were saved from destruction. I’ll end with one final point to think about: The same Holy Spirit that was in Peter is in all of us; brothers and sisters, what shall we do?