In the day and age in which we live news spreads like wild fire. The internet with all its social networking apps lets people know all over the world what happens in an instant. We no longer need those gossipers to announce whatever they hear on their “grapevines”. News and gossip are known immediately.
This was Peter’s attitude about the Gospel News from the start of John’s baptism to after Jesus was raised from the dead. Look at this passage again:
Ac 10:37 “You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
1) You know what happened, Peter says. How did the message get from Jerusalem to Caesarea? There are three matters to remember.
(1) The Jew were renown for making their belief system known to all. This could have been to block people from attempting to enter or to recruit proselytes. From as far back as the Babylonian Exile to the displacement of people under the Roman Empire, Jews were to be found throughout the known world.
(2) Then, when coming to Christianity, God caused the Gospel to spread outward from Jerusalem with Stephen’s martyrdom and Saul’s (Paul) persecution of the Church.
Ac 8:1 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.
(3) We also need to remember that news” spreads, especially when it is “controversial”. These three matters ought to be part of our lives … should we move from one suburb, city or country to another or should we be persecuted and flee to safer places, the Good News of the Lord Jesus ought to generate evangelistic hearts willing to share Jesus everywhere we go.
2) The basic Gospel.
(1) Why start with John’s baptism? John the Baptist was the fore runner to Messiah Jesus. He paved the way by preaching repentance … “return to God who is holy by living holy lives”. This created a platform of readiness and expectancy for when Messiah came. During his ministry, Jesus stepped onto the stage of history and was baptized by John. This was significant because two things happened.
(a) Jesus identified with John. He supported getting ready for what God was going to do through Him (Messiah).
(b) His baptism was momentous because God was present authenticating Jesus as Messiah.
Mt 3:16 “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’”
The complete Triune God was present! Jesus the Son being baptized. The Holy Spirit coming upon the Son and the Father speaking … “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” I like to see this as Jesus’ public commissioning and the start of His three year ministry.
3) Jesus’ commissioning was His empowerment as the Godman.
Ac 10:38 “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”
It might be difficult to get your head around this, but Jesus was always and is always God. In becoming God incarnate He limited Himself. The reason for this is that He needed to authenticate Himself before going to the Cross. With the power from the Spirit infused into His manhood, He was able to do good works and exorcise those under the enemy’s influence … and note, His Father was always with Him. (I have tried to explain these verses simply so that we might grasp what they are saying). So far, Peter crosses about three years in two verses (v37-38).
4) Peter and those with him were witnesses of what he had just said.
Ac 10:39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.”
Peter, James and John were Jesus’ inner group of disciples, but many more than the Twelve were with Jesus for most of His ministry. These authenticated what Peter was saying … “we are witnesses of everything”. It’s almost like saying … if you don’t believe me … ask them.
5) The main reason for Jesus coming to earth … They killed him by hanging him on a tree. A crucifixion was by means of a vertical post planted in the ground with a horizontal beam placed at the top making it look like a “T”. The Greek word for “cross” is “stauros” meaning “stake, pole, upright post or cross”. From this it is easy to see why some of the New Testament authors used the word “tree” for “cross”. In the Law of Moses, when someone was worthy of being put to death, his body was hung on a tree.
Dt 21:22 If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, 23 you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.
Note the last sentence … “anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse”. Jesus was hung on a “tree” and He was under the Father’s curse because He took our sin upon Himself. He substituted Himself to be cursed in our place! Paul puts it like this as he writes to the Church at Galatia:
Gal 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
We are not done with Peter’s message to Cornelius and his guests but let’s be reminded that the Gospel starts with whom Jesus is (God incarnate – Son of God) before we arrive at what He did (paid for sin, being killed at Calvary Cross). But it does not end there. Tomorrow we shall continue with Peter’s explanation of the Gospel. We need to be reminded that there are many ways to explain, preach or share the Gospel, but the ingredients must be the same.
Our Father, keep us true to the Gospel message so that as we share it we might not confuse people with an inadequate Gospel explanation. Amen.