PUTTING AN END TO THE AGONY OF DEATH
Topic: Resurrection Verse: Acts 2:23–2:24
“PUTTING AN END TO THE AGONY OF DEATH”
THEME: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ fulfilled the plan of God for our redemption.
From the summer of 1943, Dwight Eisenhower was tasked with the responsibility of planning and executing the invasion of the continent of Europe to begin the push to end the domination by the Axis powers led by Germany. As the summer of 1944 approached, there were so many different things that had to all align to work together to provide success to the D-Day mission. Too many things served as uncontrollable variables – the weather, the secrecy, the faux invasion ploys, the troop locations of the Germans, tides, Rommel’s defenses, to name only a few. Even up to the moment the ships launched to cross the English Channel, there was absolute uncertainty whether this was going to work, but Eisenhower saw a small window of opportunity where everything momentarily aligned to go and so the order went out – initiate!
Unlike this uncertain plan, God’s plan of redemption was never vulnerable to circumstances. From before the foundation of the world, God had determined that He would redeem your soul through the work that Jesus Christ would do on the cross. His death was planned and executed as flawlessly as was God’s work of creating the sun that continues to provide us with heat and light. There was never a doubt as to whether circumstances would take an expected turn and things wouldn’t work out. Rather, God had predetermined the atonement of Christ and everything worked according to God’s sovereign purpose and providential power. Let’s look at how Peter explains this glorious reality and eternal certainty that you and I enjoy concerning the success of Christ ...
I. THE PROVISION OF GOD – 2:22-23a
A. THE PROOF OF CHRIST’S SIGNIFICANCE – v. 22
- Out of God’s great love, he sent His Son to bear witness of God’s desire to redeem men.
- Even before He died, Jesus’ identity as the Messiah (“Anointed One”) is authenticated irrefutably by the outworking of God’s power through Him – “… a man attested to you by God …” [ἀποδείκνυμι] – a term that means to put forth for public recognition; to put on display.
- “Miracles” – [δυνάμεσι] mighty deeds performed inarguably by the strength and power of God, and only attributable to that power.
- “Wonders” – [τέρας] the effects of the miracles; they were designed to create a sense of the awe of God’s presence and actifity; hence, something that astounds.
- “Signs” – [σημεῖον] the intention of the miracles was to “confirm” or “indicate” what was being done; it is the evidence needed to realize that this was from God.
B. THE PLAN OF CHRIST’S SACRIFICE – v. 23a
- Having specified “Jesus the Nazarene” as the anointed of God, Peter now explains the purpose of His anointing.
- There are many people who believe that Jesus was a martyr – a victim of the cruelty and depravity of the Jews and Romans.
- This verse clearly establishes the opposite – that Jesus was intentionally delivered up (handed over) to men in order to fulfill God’s plan
- “predetermined” – [ὡρισμένῃ] from ὁρίζω from where we get the word “horizon” - God determined through His sovereign purpose, to deliver Jesus to be brutalized in order to pay for our sins – cp. John 3:16; Philippians 2:8
- “foreknowledge” – [πρόγνωσις] – not merely prescience, but it means to foreordain; to be intimately familiar with what will happen in such a complete sense that one causes it – Isaiah 53:10.
- These phrases doubly emphasize that the events of Christ’s crucifixion were under the sovereign plan of God - .
- When did God decide on this plan? – cp. 2 Timothy 1:9; Acts 4:26-28
II. THE PASSION OF CHRIST – 2:23b
A. THE TREACHERY IN HIS DEATH
- We see therefore several partnerships:
- God the Father predetermining and the Son willingly fulfilling the “delivering up” of Himself.
- An unholy partnership between the “men of Israel” and the “godless” gentiles in the assassination of the anointed of God.
- Here we see the tension between the sovereign predetermined plan of God and the independent exercise of the depraved choice of men.
- Thus, despite being determined by God, those guilty of Christ’s assassination are accountable for the treacherous violence against the Son of God – cp. Luke 22:21-22
B. THE TAINTING OF ALL MEN
- The treachery of those who “put Him to death” cannot be viewed as unique to them, but rather is illustrative of the depravity of us all – the point is that men put Christ to death – cp. Isaiah 53:3-6
III. THE POWERLESSNESS OF DEATH – 2:24
A. THE DELIVERANCE FROM DEATH – v. 24a
- Having accomplished the atonement for the sins of men, God thwarted the treachery of men by raising up Christ from the dead – cp. Genesis 3:15
- “Agony of death” is the word for “birth pains” – describing the cramps and pains that a woman has before giving birth – death is thus seen as being in labor and unable to hold back the birth of the Messiah
- “putting an end to” – the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the finalizing event that brings to naught the tyranny of death – cp. Hebrews 2:14-15
- When Jesus was placed in the tomb, it was as if the earth became pregnant with the glory of God – the 3 days gestation gave way to the birth of new life not only for Jesus, but for all those who trust in Him.
- Thus, just as it is impossible for a woman to hold back the birth of her baby, “it was impossible for Him to be held in [death’s] power”
B. THE DEBILITATION OF DEATH – v. 24b
- Through the purpose of God – Hebrews 2:14-15
- Through the promises of God – John 2:19-21
- Through the power of God – Ephesians 1:19-20