Acts Devotionals

The Unrecognized Rescue Plan

There are those who grow up in the Christian Church and never recognized Jesus Christ as God’s Rescue Plan. It is true that in some Churches the Gospel is not preached … but at the same time there are those Churches where the Gospel is preached faithfully, yet some are not moved or effected by it! Why is this? Why are some stirred to respond to the Gospel whilst the message is like water running off a ducks back to others? There are a variety of reasons …

(1) Chief amongst these would be the hardness of the heart. They are totally resistant because the world with all its sinful offering dominates to the point of total captivity.

(2) Another reason is their time to understand the Gospel has not yet arrived. This was me! When I was thirteen years old I understood the Gospel and its requirements. Once I left school, peer pressure captivated my heart for many years. I only responded to the Gospel in my late twenties. (If you read this and know you are not a committed Christian, don’t think what happened to me or others will happen to you. You don’t know the day of your death. It might be untimely! Respond today, for there might not be a tomorrow.)

Our next passage in Acts is:

Ac 13:26 “Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people.

1) Paul’s sermon almost stops to reflect upon what he has already preached. He considered the history of the Jewish people briefly, now it’s time to deal with the central point of the Gospel Message. He reminds both Jews and converts to Judaism that this Gospel was sent to them first. Remember Paul is on a Missionary Journey with his team. They had decided, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to visit the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch to declare to them that the Gospel of the Lord Jesus was sent or given to them as well.

2) Paul tells them that the people of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize Messiah. This word “recognize” actually means “fail”. They failed to understand the message of salvation … the Gospel … and they failed to understand the words of the prophets, which contained the Gospel message. We must understand this … they heard the words of the prophets every week in synagogue. What they heard was the message about the coming Messiah … Jesus. They heard about the sacrifice he would make on their behalf. Now here’s the thing … they did not understand the message because they willing failed to understand the message. It’s much like a person being in a Church where the Gospel is preached faithfully and they fail to understand the message’s content, urgency and their personal need … because of their preoccupation with the things of the world. Before you think this is judgmental, I was right there and maybe you were too … or perhaps you’re still there. Personally I rue the wasted years where I willingly failed to listen to and consider the Gospel’s message. Maybe God’s timing was not then, but to me it was wasted years living in the world and for the world. Friend, study the Gospel. Learn its message so that you understand it. Appropriate its invitation to receive Jesus as Lord. Don’t waste time because the wasted years cannot be recovered. Christianity is a lifelong experience of learning, growing, loving and serving Jesus. Time wasted is time lost in every way.

3) Paul points out what failure to understand the Gospel does … it condemns the Gospel and condemning the Gospel means condemning Jesus! The word “condemning” is related to having judged and then passing judgment. This is how they did it:

Ac 13:28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed.

Failure to understand is exposed in those words … found no proper ground. At all costs the Sanhedrin grabs at straws to condemn Jesus. They said He claimed to the “the Son of God.” They directed the question to Him. Jesus response was “yes” and immediately they found Him guilty. They never afforded Him the opportunity of explaining why He said “yes”. They would not allow Him to explain … just like many today refuse to hear Jesus’ claims in the Bible. They reject Him as a man trying to be a savior without letting His Word explain who He is, why He came and what His coming means to those who receive Him and reject Him!

4) Paul explains what they did, which fulfilled the Scriptures about them. Remember they rejected the prophets’ words. Remember what Isaiah said in chapter 53? There he explained exactly what would happen to Messiah! This is what they, the Jews did to Jesus. They could not pronounce the death penalty that is why they got Pilate to approve the crucifixion. What Paul is doing is showing that Jesus was guiltless, yet purposely declared guilty so that He could be removed from the religious and societal scene.

5) Paul then shows that Jesus was dead. He died on the Cross. It was written so. He was removed from the Cross by …

Mk 15:43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. 45 When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.

They—the Jewish people, with their leaders, with the help of Pilate—executed Jesus.

6) Paul then explains the miraculous resurrection. Jesus was dead … God raised him from the dead. Not only were there witnesses to Jesus’ death and burial, there are witnesses to His resurrection. Before His returned to glory, Jesus mixed with many of His disciples, giving further education and instruction about Himself and the Kingdom over which He is Sovereignly King. In this part of his sermon Paul highlights the basic Gospel ingredients. Jesus’ death and resurrection were substitutional. If the Gospel ended at Jesus’ death we would not have a Gospel at all. His death guarantees believers pardon but His resurrection guarantees believers two things.

(a) A spiritual resurrection from spiritual death unto spiritual life.

(b) An eternal resurrection unto eternal life with Him in His heaven forever!

Please make certain you do not fail to understand Jesus’ Gospel. You eternity depends upon it!

Father, thank You for the Lord Jesus and Him dying in my place to pay the penalty for my sin. Thank you that He rose again, giving me the assurance of both present and eternal life within Your Kingdom. Amen.

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