If you are a pastor or lay person who wants to use this to preach in church – that is why I posted it. I don’t care about credit, I only care that God’s word is preached and Christ is glorified. I pray He uses this sermon in a mighty way through you. You have my permission to alter it and use it however God leads you. You might think of your own story where you were held accountable to begin as I did.
I remember one time when I was young and I got into some trouble. I remember someone coming into my class in junior high and telling my that my dad would be outside waiting for me in 4 minutes. That was amazing because we lived about 7 or 8 minutes from the school and there were no cell phones back in the 1970’s. He was going to be there quicker than he should be. And when I walked out of the school, he was sitting there in the car and I started walking toward the car and he yelled out the window, “Run!” So I sprinted to the car. I was in big trouble. I was grounded for a long time. What it was is not important now. I tell you this story to remind you that there was a time when you got into trouble as a kid, you were responsible and it was your own fault. When you got into trouble as an adult, you were responsible and it was also your own fault. And I know I’m just sounding to the young people like an old man talking about the way it used to be, and I probably am.
When I was a kid, if I got hurt being on some property I wasn’t supposed to be on, my parents would take me to the hospital to get it taken care of and then I’d be in trouble with my parents. Today, many parents would find a lawyer and sue the property owner, as if it wasn’t the kid’s own fault for being where they weren’t supposed to be and doing what they weren’t supposed to be doing. Today we live in a society of denial and deflecting responsibility. We live in a world where the truth of the Gospel gets diluted because it’s offensive and we aren’t supposed to hurt anyone’s feelings.
And know this young people – I’m not just sounding like an old man talking about how it used to be, but I am an old man telling stories about how it used to be. Old school.
And Peter’s going old school on us here – Peter is preaching confrontational Spirit inspired preaching. And Spirit inspired preaching is often confrontational. Peter’s not letting them off – he’s not making or accepting excuses. He doesn’t soft sell it. And we must remember, this is the same Peter who denied knowing Jesus – denied him not once, not twice, but three times. This guy who was afraid to admit he even knew Jesus, is now standing before a huge crowd of people accusing them of killing Jesus – not knowing which way this is going to go. Sometimes it’s a shame that we know so many Bible lessons and we already know how it’s going to go.
There may be a few young people here today who haven’t really heard this before – let’s try to look at it from their perspective –
In this Scripture, we Peter preaching to this mob of people – And this is part of what he said. Verse 40 says there were many other words. So what we have in the Scripture is all we need to know, but I can picture it going something like this:
Listen to me now. You all know that Jesus did many miracles. Several of you were there when he fed the 5,000 with what amounted to a sack lunch. And if you weren’t there, you surely heard about it. You know he raised Lazarus from the dead. For crying out loud, some of you have loved ones that Jesus healed! I do. He healed my mother in law! I could go on and on, but let’s agree on one thing – He did all these things and even more right here in our midst, you know it and I know it. But God had a special purpose for Jesus and knew what you were going to do to Him. You participated in a kangaroo court – you demanded that He be crucified and put to death and so you are responsible for killing Him. (Time out)
I’ve given sermons who have made people mad before and I’m sure I will again. But I have yet to give a sermon after which I wondered if someone were going to kill me. Peter is telling the people who killed Jesus that they are responsible for killing Jesus. And it has to be going through Peter’s mind, just as it would ours if we’d never heard this before, what’s to keep them from killing Peter? This could go several ways – 1.) They could laugh him off as a loon. 2.) They could get angry and kill him, just as they killed Jesus. 3.) They could feel bad about killing Jesus, but take no further action. 4.) They could blame it on others. or 5.) They could say, “Man, you’re right, we’re sorry, but what can we do about it now?”
If I’d never heard this before, I would say that number 5, “Man you’re right, we’re sorry, but what can we do about it now would be the least likely response.
Back to Peter’s sermon – But after you killed Jesus, He didn’t stay dead. God raised Him up, giving him victory over death. It was impossible for the grave to contain Jesus. And Peter says to the Jewish people – King David even talked about Jesus – And don’t think David was talking about himself when he was talking about sitting at the right hand of God – He was talking about Jesus – this Jesus. And in addition, you now see and hear us, his followers, and it’s obvious to everyone we come in contact with that Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit which has been poured out on us.
There’s no longer room for doubt—God made him Master and Messiah, this Jesus whom you killed on a cross.
Peter has made the case – You know who Jesus is and you know what you’ve done. And Peter rests his case. And they do the right thing. They don’t try to make excuses, they don’t kill Peter, they don’t chalk it up to crazy talk, and they don’t just walk away feeling guilty. They say, “What do we do?” The question itself is an admission of guilt, but the Bible tells us that they were “pierced in the heart”. This is an interesting phrase, used nowhere else in the New Testament – There’s a place in John when Jesus is on the cross and they pierced his side with a spear. This word in Acts that the people were pierced is a word that means much deeper and sharper than that word where they pierced His side on the cross. It hits them in the deepest part. It’s being caught red handed, screaming out, “What have I done? What have I done?”
And they say, “What do we do?” That’s the reaction Peter was looking for. And it took the harsh, convicting words of Peter to get them there. It wasn’t a sugar coated, excuse filled sermon – Oh I know you never would have done that, you were just influenced by your friends, it really wasn’t your fault…
I heard Pastor David Jeremiah preach one time and he said when you have a bottle of medicine, the milder the warning label, the more dangerous the medicine in the bottle.
We don’t want a doctor who tells us we’re OK when were not OK, do we?
Peter was straight up with them. And they asked, “What do we do?”
Once again – no beating around the bush – repent. Repent and be baptized. The word repent is made up of two words in the original Greek – Change your mind, turn to God and be baptized. This Scripture is the basis for most people who believe you must be baptized to be saved. I’ve read that the literal translation is to repent and be baptized because your sins are forgiven. I don’t ant to minimize baptism – it’s definitely a command and we need to be baptized, but the forgiveness comes from repentance. Over and over in the New Testament it talks about the need for repentance.
Luke 13:3b (NIV) “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” [This is often termed the “Turn or Burn” passage.]
Matthew 4:17 (NIV) From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Matthew 3:2 (Phi) “You must change your hearts and minds, for the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived!”
Mark 6:12 (TEB) So they went out and preached that people should turn away from their sins.
I see baptism as important, but repentance as crucial. You can be baptized without repenting and it does you no good. If someone repents and turns to Jesus on their deathbed and passes away before being baptized, I see Scripture telling us they’ve done what is required to be saved.
Peter is telling them to make a break from the past – to turn from their past and turn to Jesus.
So to take the turn into the home stretch today, there’s no way I can sugar coat things –
I remember hearing about a person who lived on a hill and he came out of his house to start his car and one of his kids had come home with the tank empty – running on fumes. The gas light was on and the needle was as low as he’d ever seen it. He started the car and got out of his driveway and then turned off the car and coasted about a mile down the hill, got some momentum and coasted as far as he could – he then started the car and was able to go the next half mile with the car sputtering into the gas station. If he hadn’t known the car was empty, he’d have run out of gas before he got there.
What a blessing to know your tank is empty. What a blessing to hear and accept that we need a Savior.
On the other hand, sometimes we wonder about people who have died without hearing the Gospel – without ever hearing the Name of Jesus – The first Scripture I read from Matthew, Jesus says some people have seen great works and evidences and didn’t repent. He said that if the people in Sodom – which was destroyed – had seen those miracles, they would have repented.
Which creates a problem for you all, and really everyone here in the United States. Francis Chan said – which is worse – Bad teaching and no repentance or good teaching and no repentance? The Scripture from Matthew reminds us that we have no excuses. You have heard – you know. And you need to repent – you need to turn to Jesus. And He’s revealing it to you today just as he did to the Jewish people then through Peter. And you know what you must do. And you have no excuse.
And what great news, that no matter what we’ve done, God will forgive us.