It might be easier for us, standing on this side of salvation to grasp that Jesus rose from the dead because we have the complete Bible … but what about those hearing the gospel in those early days of evangelism? There was so much mysticism doing the rounds with false prophets and religious charlatans, each trying to gather followers and financial support, much like there are today. There needed to be some form of vivid proof that Jesus rose form the dead. Not for everyone to see, but for those who would fulfill the Great Commission, going into all the world to make disciples (followers) for Jesus. We pick up the reading again:
Ac 10:40 “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) The qualification for apostleship.
Ac 1:21 “Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
Being a witness of Jesus’ resurrection meant they could witness with firsthand knowledge. But as said a few days back, many others were with Jesus who did not become apostles. Paul in proving his apostleship informs us:
1Co 15:3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
These are post resurrection meetings … there was Peter, then the Twelve (meaning the 11 apostles excluding Judas Iscariot), 500 brothers, James, Paul and what is not mentioned is the ladies immediately after His resurrection.
2) These witnesses were chosen by God.
Ac 10:41 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.
This is profound! Jesus met up with all the people Paul refers to before His Ascension. He proved to them He was alive, risen as promised on the third day (Sunday – first day of the week). He proved His prophecy accurate and believable. Many who followed including the Jewish Leaders sought to prove his body was stolen to discredit the apostles teaching:
Mt 28:11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
See that? The chief priests and the elders devised a plan which was to say Jesus body was stolen … and money sealed the lie that was spread all over wherever Jews were to be found. Our Lord knew this would happen and therefore preempted and counteracted their evil scheme by revealing Himself to so many after He rose from the dead. True witnesses needed to be credible … and seeing, touching, eating food and drinking together with Jesus gave them the authority to speak with confidence and power.
3) These witnesses never took the responsibility of preaching the Gospel by themselves.
Ac 10:42 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.
The qualifications required we have discussed already … but even then, they needed to be appointed … and Jesus “commanded” them to …
(a) Preach. No man may take this responsibility without being sanctioned by God. Many do and cause damage in the Church and in society in general. Sadly many of our pulpits are filled with men … and even women, not called by God to preach. Resist the pulpit until God gives you the command to preach. When He does this He gives the anointing required to fulfil the task. Many fail because they are not called and appointed. This is one of the reasons the Christian Church in so many places is weak.
(b) Testify. Part of the preaching would include telling people that God appointed His Son Jesus to judge the living and the dead!
(i) Jesus will judge the living … meaning the children of God. They are spiritually alive, thus called the living. All Christians will be judged but will be found not guilty because the Blood of Jesus covers all their sin and guilt.
(ii) Jesus will judge the dead. The dead are all who remain spiritually dead and drenched in their sin. They will be judged and found guilty because their sin is unforgiven and now catches them out. Where the living will be escorted into glory to be with their King, the Lord Jesus forever, the dead will be cast into the Lake of Burning Sulphur and be damned eternally. The eternity of the damned is reserved for all the enemies of God. Friend the most vivid picture found in the Bible for me is the one in Luke 16 … the account of the Richman and Lazarus. Should you be undecided about Jesus and His salvific offer … read that passage. Where the preaching would apply to the pulpit, all Christians are called to share Jesus with those they come into contact with. In prayer, view every meeting and contact as a Divine Appointment!
4) The place where forgiveness is found.
Ac 10:43 “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Peter points out that even the Old Testament prophets taught that through faith in Messiah there would be forgiveness. What he is saying is that it is not just a New Testament teaching. It existed in the Old as well. In the Old they looked to the coming Messiah for pardon. We look backwards to the messiah who has come.
O Lord God, Thank You that pardon is only available through the One You appointed … Your Son Jesus. Thank You that His Blood is the source of forgiveness. Amen.