Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Double-Edged Sword From Death to Life

“Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’”[1]

          This is the double-edged sword that cuts us to the heart with our sin, and brings us to life in the Son. Peter had just told the people, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”[2]  He recounted to them enough things that convinced them that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah that had been promised to Israel, that his death, burial, and resurrection were all the fulfillment of prophecies about the Messiah, that this Jesus was now sitting at the right hand of the Father as the glorified Son of the Most High, and that they had crucified him who had been sent to them.

          This message cut them to the heart. It both put to death their confidence in their own righteousness, and put to death the blindness of the evil one, the god of this age, who had blinded the minds of the unbelieving Jews so that they were unable to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus of Nazareth.[3]

          Suddenly these Jews could see what had been true the whole time, that Jesus of Nazareth was their Messiah, the Promised One of God. And, just as suddenly as they realized the good news that, in their generation, God had fulfilled his promise of sending the Messiah, they also realized the truthfulness of what Peter had just said, that they were talking about “this Jesus whom they crucified”.

          It is when they heard this, that God had made this Jesus of Nazareth both Lord and Christ, and that they had crucified him, they were horrified. They were cut deep into the heart with the consciousness of their sin. They were desperate to know what to do about this situation.

          There was no justification of what they had done. There was no immediate consciousness of the gospel taking away the shame, guilt, and fear of their abhorrent actions against the Son of God. There was first a piercing stab of pain, the awareness that they had sinned, that they had crucified the Messiah.

          This is where the gospel begins for us all. It begins with us feeling the poverty of our spirits, that we are not the righteous, good people we think we are. We do not see in ourselves someone who can do whatever we set our minds to do. We cannot build a tower that reaches to heaven. We cannot add enough good works to our side of the scale to overcome the weight of our sin on the other side of the scale. We have broken the law, the whole law. By any one sin we violated the whole law of God, and made it impossible for us to attain righteousness through good works.

          However, there is this wonderful realization, this thing that God says first, the divine context of our sin, that God has “made him both Lord and Christ.” When we talk about the Jesus we have crucified with our sin, the Jesus who laid down his life for our sins, we are talking about the Jesus who was dead, and buried, and raised from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, and given the name that is above every name so that, at the new name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, not only will every knee bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father, but we have this amazing reality where we admit we killed Jesus in the presence of the living Jesus!

          It is then that we can receive this glorious grace, that if we, “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. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”[4]

          There is the glory of the gospel, that at the very moment we realize our sin put Jesus on the cross, we hear the living Jesus calling us to repent and come to him for salvation from that sin. On that particular day we read, So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.[5] Until the day of Jesus’ return, this glorious hope remains, Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”[6]

© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Acts 2:37
[2] Acts 2:36
[3] II Corinthians 4:4-6
[4] Acts 2:38-39
[5] Acts 2:41
[6] II Corinthians 6:2

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