Meditations in Acts : 28 : Lord and Christ
Acts 2:32,33 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
Back in the 26th of these meditations we wrote, ‘So we come to the third of these three basics to the foundation of the Gospel. The first was the work of Jesus over three years, the second was the death of Jesus at the hands of wicked men but seen as part of a plan originated in heaven from before the foundation of the world, and now the third is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.’ But there is a fourth of these basics to the foundation of the Gospel, and it is that Jesus is ascended and ruling as Lord.
We are, as teachers, often good at teaching about the first three, but my experience is that we are not so good with this fourth basic foundation of the Gospel – that Jesus has ascended and is seated at the right hand of his Father in heaven where he now rules. The New Testament is full of such references, for example, “Jesus … was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honour at God’s right hand.” (Mk 16:19), “Now he sits on the throne of highest honour in heaven, at God’s right hand.” (Acts 2:33), “Then God put him in the place of honour at his right hand as Prince and Saviour.” (Acts 5:31) See also Acts 7:55 / Rom 8:34 / Ephes. 1:20 / Phil 2:9 / Col. 3:1 / Heb 1:3 / Heb 8:1 / Heb 10:12 / Heb 12:2 / 1 Pet 3:22.
In fact, Peter says it is because he is now ruling at the Father’s right hand that this has happened today: “Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” Note the order – the Father gives the Spirit and Jesus passes it on. Throughout Scripture there is this order. Although Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One God, when it comes to authority, it is almost as if the godhead doesn’t want us to ever demean God the Father and so we see Son and Spirit are in submission to the Father.
The apostle Paul understood this when he spoke of Christ’s work as a ruler and as Lord, when he wrote, “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1 Cor 15:24,25) There we see the strength of this fourth foundation – a) Jesus is ruling, b) he is dealing with all his enemies, and c) when he has finished he will hand back the completed work to the Father.
But Peter, under the anointing of the Spirit on this incredible day of Pentecost also understands it. He uses Old Testament scriptures to first of all prove the point that these things didn’t apply to David but apply now to Jesus. Having quoted David in verses 25 to 28 he now declares that David wasn’t speaking about himself: “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.” (v.34,35) He is, in fact, quoting from David’s Psa 100 where we find this as, “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies.” (Psa 110:1,2) The emphasis on ruling and ruling in the midst of his enemies is even stronger there, but Peter hadn’t yet grasped the incredible wonder of that part of it yet, he was simply using the verse to emphasis the ascension and Jesus now in heaven with his Father.
I believe it is fair to say that the apostles were a little slow (as we would have been) at appreciating exactly who Jesus was. Having lived with him for three years in his human capacity, it took some believing and understanding that he was in fact the Son of God and was seated at the Father’s right hand ruling as Lord. The fact that three hundred years passed before the Church got around to producing creeds that laid out exactly who Jesus was, proves this point. But it was a revelation of the Spirit and it was coming on this day, so that Peter concludes, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (v.36)
This is a vital part of the Gospel and it affects how we view our Christian life and the world around us. Jesus is not only Christ, Messiah and Saviour, but he is also the Lord who is ruling. Now when we speak of a ruler we mean someone who is in charge, someone who has the power and the authority to bring change and bring things about in his kingdom. Peter has just said that the coming of the Spirit was the work of Jesus, as an expression of his rule at his Father’s right hand. In Rom 8:28 we read, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” What we now realise is that it is Jesus who is overseeing this work of God that goes on constantly in and around you. I suspect that his activity is so great that it would blow our minds away if we could see it. That he does not overrule the free will of men and women that he has given them, is true, but nevertheless the indication is that Jesus is working all the time to bring change, to bring blessing, to bring good to those who love him. That is amazing; that is staggering and really can only be comprehended with the help and revelation of the Spirit. If you want to understand it more, pray and ask the Lord to give you that understanding. The apostle Paul wrote, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Eph 1:18,19) He knew we needed that help.
Now we have said a number of times, this part emphasizes that this is a sermon and we need to learn things from it. So here is the simple challenge to preachers: do you bring, Sunday by Sunday, nice little harmless homilies, or do we built the faith of our people by helping them realise that Jesus is Lord over all things and therefore they can know this security: I am living in a kingdom where Jesus rules and I am secure in his love, secure in the knowledge that he has the power and the authority to bring to fruition the will of God, despite and in the midst of all those people, powers and things that are enemies of God. He is Lord! Declare it, with all its implications!