At one time, it was fashionable in some academic circles to dismiss Luke as a reliable historian. It was agreed that he wasn’t! But then along came an archaeologist called William Ramsay, who verified that at point after point Luke’s historical detail, as found in ‘Acts’, is bang on. It’s as well to bear in mind Luke’s introductory words in his gospel (Luke 1:1-4) as we listen to this record of Peter’s Pentecost sermon. Note that:
- Peter spoke with confidence (22): ‘’as you yourselves know.’’ He knew that the people in this huge crowd also knew that his assertions about Jesus were correct. We should not miss the significance of this. He wasn’t preaching that Jesus was ‘just a good man’. He was making big claims about Him. If these things were not as he said, he could have quickly lost his congregation. But no, he could appeal to their real and recent knowledge. He knew he was on a firm footing;
- Peter spoke boldly (23). He was not afraid to call sin ‘sin’; not scared to spell out in detail their specific sin of rejecting/crucifying the Lord. He must have known that these people were capable of turning on him too. But he went for it. He took a big swing, and obviously connected sweetly with the ball (37). It is sometimes said that the resurrection of Jesus transformed the disciples. Well, it obviously did. But I believe one preacher was correct to emphasise that the resurrection made them glad; it didn’t make them bold. It was the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost that changed the previously fearful Peter (for example) into a roaring lion of a man;
- Peter spoke Biblically (24-28). He said ‘’it was impossible for death to keep its hold’’ on Jesus, and he made his point by quoting Psalm 16:8-11. He had insight to see that the words of this Psalm pointed beyond David, and we’ll pick up his thought in the next notes. At one time, the ‘Elim’ churches held great services in the Royal Albert Hall on Easter Monday. I still remember the thrill of the great organ rumbling like an earthquake beneath the words of a hymn: ‘Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Saviour; He tore the bars away; Jesus my Lord. Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes…’
HE TORE THE BARS AWAY! It was impossible that it should be any other way, Peter said. He had seen it in the Bible.
Never forget that Pentecost is all about the living Lord Jesus. It only happened because He lives.