Robert Jeffress - This Man Jesus
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Most people would agree that it's better to be hopeful than pessimistic. But there's a big difference between true hope and wishful thinking. In fact, when it comes to salvation, wishful thinking puts your eternal home in heaven at risk. So today I'm going to show you why Jesus Christ is the only one who's worthy of our hope, faith, and praise. My message is titled "This Man Jesus". On today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Faith can sometimes be harmful. In fact, faith can actually destroy you. If you don't believe that, ask the victims of the seven people who were killed in Chicago in 1982. You may remember the story. A killer randomly laced Tylenol caplets with cyanide. And these seven unsuspecting victims purchased the tablets and, believing that these caplets would actually help them feel better, they took those caplets in good faith, not realizing that in fact they were ingesting poison. They had faith in that Tylenol pill, but it was a misplaced faith, and the results were catastrophic. You see, our faith is only as good and as trustworthy as the object of our faith is good and trustworthy.
Let me ask you this morning. What are you trusting in? What do you have faith in to lead you through the dark tunnel of your death one day? It's inevitable, the Bible says. Hebrews 9:27, "We are all going to die". No one gets of this world alive. Have you come to grips with that fact, that you are going to die? If you don't believe we're all going to die, I encourage you just to think about people you know who were here this time last year who are no longer alive today? How many of you know someone who has died in the past year who is no longer here? The fact is we are all going to die, but not only that. Hebrews 9:27 says, "It's not only appointed that every man wants to die, but also to face God's judgment". We are all going to have God evaluate our lives. And the result of God's judgment is either going to end in eternal heaven or in eternal separation from God in hell.
Where is your faith? What are you trusting in to survive God's holy judgment of your life? Some people are trusting in their relative goodness. They say, "I may not be perfect, but I'm not a murderer or rapist or a drug dealer. I keep the Ten Commandments as best as I can. I'm a pretty good person". That is a misplaced faith, because Romans 3:10 says, "There's not one righteous among us, no, not even one". Some people are trusting in the fact that they grew up in a Christian home. "I had a Christian mother, a Christian father, my granddaddy was a pastor. I'm trusting in my Christian heritage". That is a misplaced faith. John 3:3 says, "Unless we are born again, individually, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God".
I like what evangelist Luis Palau says. He says, "God has no grandchildren". There's only one way to be in God's family. There's only way to be rightly related to God. It's not through another person, it is by being a child of God yourself. Some people are trusting that they're gonna make it through God's judgment because of their church membership, or because they were baptized one day. But that is a misplaced faith. Titus 3:5 says we are saved not by the washing of water but by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. What are you trusting in? Where is your faith? What is the object of your faith to survive death and God's judgment? In the passage we're going to look at today, the apostle Peter tells us that the life, the death, the resurrection of Jesus Christ make Jesus alone the object worthy of our faith for life and for eternity.
If you have your Bibles today, I want you to turn to Acts chapter two, Acts chapter two, as we look at this man, Jesus. Now, Acts 2 records the events at Pentecost, and let me set up the scene here so you can understand exactly what is going on. Pentecost was one of the three feasts that the Jews celebrated in Jerusalem every year, and hundreds of thousands of people, Jews from all over the world, would come to Pentecost. Pente meaning 50. It occurred 50 days after the first fruits sacrifice. And so you had these hundreds of thousands of people coming to Jerusalem, as they had every year for hundreds of years. But this was no ordinary Pentecostal celebration because all of Jerusalem was still abuzz with what had happened in the city just a few weeks earlier. Everyone was chattering about this man Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth. They were talking about his death. They were talking about his resurrection. They were talking about his ascension into heaven that had just happened a week and a half earlier before this. Everybody was talking about Jesus.
Look at the heart of the message beginning in verse 22. "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know, this man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and you put him to death. But God raised him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it is impossible for him to be held in its power".
The very first sermon in the history of the church that was preached was not about the words of Jesus but the works of Jesus. It was not a sermon about Jesus the great teacher. Peter didn't stand before the people and said that y'all be nice to one another. Be nice and kind and loving to one another. Why didn't he talk about that? Because he was talking to unbelievers. He was talking to unregenerate people. They didn't have the power to live by the words of Jesus. He didn't talk about Jesus the great teacher, he talked about Jesus the Savior of the world.
He said, "This man Jesus, the one you were talking about, the one who just weeks ago died and rose again and you all saw ascend into heaven. You've gotta make a decision about who this Jesus is. Was he just some self-deluded teacher who thought he was the Messiah? Was he the greatest religious charlatan in the history of mankind? Or was he who he said he was, the long-awaited Messiah who came and died and rose again that we might have eternal life? It's time", Peter said, "For you to make a decision". And he said, "Before you make that decision, I want you to consider three things about this man Jesus". First of all, look at his miraculous life. Look at verse 22. "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know".
Think about his miraculous works. Ladies and gentlemen, you cannot ignore the miraculous life of Jesus. But Peter says just don't recognize his miraculous life, remember his atoning death. Look at verse 23. "This man, Jesus, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and you put him to death". Did you know that took guts for Peter to say? Because Peter was looking into the eyes of the very people who weeks earlier had cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him"! It was that group to whom Peter was preaching. And he said, "You are sinful, angry men. You nailed him to the cross". But he said this was no accident. Jesus Christ was no victim. Jesus was delivered up. That word delivered means surrender. That is, God voluntarily surrendered Jesus to be executed. He'd not only surrendered him to be executed, he planned for his own son's death.
The Bible says in verse 23 here Christ's death was no accident, Jesus was no victim, all of this was according to the "Predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God". People say, well, foreknowledge means God just knew ahead of time what was going to happen. No, it doesn't mean he knew what was going to happen, it means he planned what was going to happen. All of this was according to the predetermined plan of God. In fact, the evidence of that is in the hundreds of prophecies about the life and death and resurrection of Christ that you find written hundreds of years earlier in the Old Testament. Just consider, just consider some of the prophecies in the Old Testament about the atoning death of Jesus Christ.
For example, Zechariah 11:12, written 500 and some odd years before the birth of Christ. Zechariah 11:12 says Messiah would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. Or Psalm 22 verse 16 says when he died Messiah would have his hands and his feet pierced, describing crucifixion. You say, well, what's the big deal about that? Psalm 22 was written 1.000 years before Jesus lived, before crucifixion had even been invented. And yet the Psalmist under inspiration predicted the manner in which Christ would die. In Psalm 22 verse 18 it says that his clothes would be divided up and the soldiers would cast lots for it. All of that, a 1.000 years before Christ died. Psalm 34 verse 20 says no bone in his body would be broken. Isaiah 53 verse 12 says he would be crucified between two thieves. Think about that. Isaiah was written 740 years before Christ was born. And yet Isaiah prophesied he would be crucified between two thieves. Amos 8, verse nine, says that when he died, a great darkness would envelop the earth. And of course Isaiah 53 verse nine says that he would be buried in a rich man's tomb, 700 years before the fact.
This was no accident. The death of Jesus Christ was God's plan, not just for the salvation of the world, but for your salvation as well. And that's the heart of the Gospel, ladies and gentlemen. The Bible says all of us have sinned. You don't need me to tell you that, do you? We've all sinned. We've all fallen short of God's plan. We all deserve God's eternal judgment. But Romans 5:8 says, "God demonstrated his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, he sent Christ to die for us". In some inexplicable way, when Jesus hung on the cross, he took the punishment, the wrath of God that you and I deserve. And that's why the scripture says in Isaiah 53, "For he was pierced through for our transgressions. He was wounded for our iniquities. The chastening of our well-being fell upon him. By his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone of us into his own way. But the Lord has laid upon him, Jesus, the iniquity, the sin, of us all".
And when I believe, accept the fact that Jesus died for me, when I quit trusting in my own righteousness, my church membership, my relative goodness, but put my full faith and trust in him, I no longer have to fear the judgment of God. For all the judgment of God that I deserve, Jesus Christ endured for me. And that's why Jesus said in John 5:24, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death into life". And John 3:16, "For God so loved the world", Jesus said, "That he sent his only begotten Son, that whoever believes on, clings to, trusts in him, shall not perish, but shall have eternal life". Jesus' atoning death. Ladies and gentlemen, it was no accident that Jesus' atoning work on the cross was performed on the day and the hour that it was.
Now stay with me on this. We know that Jesus died on Friday afternoon. John's Gospel tells us that it was the Friday of the preparation of the passover. The passover would begin at sunset Friday evening. So the Jews were busy making preparation for the celebration of the passover. What was the passover? You remember the story. More than a 1.000 years earlier, the Israelites had been in Egyptian bondage, and remember, God sent 10 plagues to try to convince Pharaoh to let the people go. And the climactic plague God sent was the death angel. And God said to the Egyptians and the Israelites, "I'm gonna send the angel of death and he will strike the firstborn in every household dead". But he said to the Israelites, "If you wanna escape my judgment, you need to do this. Take a lamb, an innocent lamb, a blameless lamb, and take that lamb that is free from any blemish and sacrifice it, kill it. And then take the blood of that lamb and put it on the doorpost of your house". And he gave them the way to do it in such a way that it would form a cross.
Now remember, this is more than a 1.000 years before Jesus. And God said, "When the angel of death comes, when I see the blood on your house, I will pass over you in judgment". For a hundreds years the Jewish people had been celebrating that night. Today, they celebrated it this weekend. They no longer celebrate it with a lamb because there is no temple in which to sacrifice that lamb. But in Jesus' day, and for hundreds of years, they would take that lamb on Friday and they would take it to the temple to be killed by a priest. And then they would take that lamb that had been slain home and they would eat the passover meal on Friday night. Now stay with me on this. The Bible said there was only a certain period of time, Jewish law said there was only a certain period of time in which that lamb could be slain on the day of the preparation of the passover. From three o'clock to five o'clock. Those are the two hours you had to bring your lamb to the temple.
Think of the scene of that Friday. Hundreds of thousands of Jews packed into Jerusalem, coming from all over to bring their passover lamb, waiting for that appointed hour when the priest would sacrifice the lamb. And at the very moment, the very time that hundreds of thousands of innocent lambs were being slain in the temple court, Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, at three o'clock when that sacrifice time began, Jesus cried out with a loud voice. "Tetelestai". Paid in full.
It is no accident Jesus died at three o'clock P.M. On the Friday afternoon of passover. He is our passover lamb. Is it through faith in him that we receive a reprieve from God's judgment. God says to every one of us, "When I see the blood of Christ on your life, I will pass over you in judgment". "There is no condemnation", Paul says, "Awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus". That is Christ-atoning work. But fortunately, the story doesn't stop there, does it? Peter says don't only consider his miraculous life and his atoning death, but also don't forget his supernatural resurrection. His supernatural resurrection, look at verse 24. "But God raised him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for him to be held in its power".
In our series of 1 Corinthians on Sunday nights, we've looked in 1 Corinthians 15 the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of course, the greatest evidence for the resurrection is the empty tomb. And the Bible says that is the proof that he is the Son of God. You know, it's interesting to me here, when Peter talks about this in this great sermon, he doesn't preach a sermon on the evidences for the resurrection. You know why? Nobody doubted it. Romans 4:25 says about Jesus he was delivered up. That is he was delivered of the cross for our transgressions but he was raised up for our justification. The fact that Jesus has been raised from the dead is God's way of saying that payment has truly been paid in full. That's what the resurrection means. It is evidence of Christ's deity but also his sufficiency for our sins. And that means we no longer, ladies and gentlemen, have to be held down by the fear or the terror of death. We know that we have life eternal because of what Christ has done for us.
Remember Martha, her sister Mary, their brother Lazarus, were Jesus' closest friends here on earth. Word came to Jesus that Lazarus had died, and so Jesus made his way to their home in Bethany. And as he was approaching the home, Martha came out and she started to blame the Lord and she said, "Lord, if you had been here, our brother would not have died". Remember what Jesus said? He said, "Your brother will rise again". And Martha shot back, "Oh I know about all that resurrection stuff, Jesus. But I'm hurting right now". And Jesus said, "Martha, look at me. Look at me. I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live again". And then he added the question, "Martha, do you believe? Do you believe? You've been around me for three years, but do you believe? You've heard me teach, but do you believe? You've seen these miracles I've performed, but do you believe, do you really believe"?
I believe the word would say the same thing to you today. You've heard the resurrection story over and over and over again. But do you really believe? Do you believe enough to pin your hopes of the future on the death of Jesus Christ for your sins? If you're trusting in your own goodness, if you're trusting in your religious heritage, if you're trusting in your baptism or some other act of righteousness to save you, your faith is a misplaced faith. Jesus and Jesus alone is worthy of your trust.
My friend Erwin Lutzer writes these very convicting words. "Five minutes after you die, you will either have had your first glimpse of heaven with its euphoria and bliss, or your first genuine experience of unrelenting horror and regret. Either way, your final destiny is unchangeable". When Peter finished his message, Luke says the people were pierced through their hearts and they cried out, "Peter, what shall we do"? And Peter said, "Repent and be baptized each one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins".