Acts 2:14, 22-36
Holy Trinity Sunday (June 12, 2022)
“Will the real Jesus please stand up!” Don’t you feel like asking that sometimes? I mean, everyone and their mother these days seems to have a different concept of Who Jesus is and what He has actually done. It can all be rather confusing to someone who is new to the Christian Faith or to the Bible. They hear all sorts of conflicting talk about Jesus. How do they separate the truth from falsehood?
What are some of these false ideas about Jesus? … For many, Jesus is a just another choice word of profanity! …For the Orthodox Jews, Jesus is just a pain in their side, a name they wish the world would forget. For them He was just one among many charlatans, who claimed to be the promised Messiah. … For the Moslems Jesus is just another prophet, but of course, one inferior to Mohamed. ….The Mormons, too, see Jesus as a revered prophet. They even call him a son of God. But they claim He is not God, merely a son of the Father God like Lucifer was, and like all men can be. Jesus merely shows people the path of living a righteous life, replete with self-sacrifice and good works. … Even for many contemporary Christians, the Jesus they proclaim is not the Biblical Jesus you and I can recognize. Instead, He is one they have shaped and molded into their own image of what they want for a Savior. They have made Him into someone who loves them in their sin and even gives His imprimatur to their self-chosen lifestyle, whether it accords with the Ten Commandments or not. Will the real Jesus stand up!
Forget what people think, imagine, or desire for Jesus. What we all ought to be asking is who is God’s Jesus? Better, yet, to be perfectly exact, since there is only one true God and He is the Triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three persons in one divine being as we commemorate today on Trinity Sunday, we should be asking, “Who is The Trinity’s Jesus?”
In our text from the second chapter of the Book of Acts, the real Jesus is made to stand up! The apostle Peter, standing with the other eleven on the Day of Pentecost, lays out quite pointedly for his original audience of Jews, as well as for us, who The Trinity's Jesus really is and how He is truly the Christ for you and me. Peter points out how the Father attests to Him, how the Son reveals Him in the flesh, and how the Holy Spirit proclaims Him the Christ!
We begin with God the Father’s attestation. Peter boldly proclaims, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because he could not be held by it"(Acts 2:22-24).
The real Jesus is, first of all, Jesus of Nazareth. This Jesus is not a figment of anyone’s imagination. He is a true historical figure; a man of the first century Galilee. He is not just a mythical character or a fictional character conjured up by the early disciples to be representative of people’s hopes for the Messiah. This Jesus is not just any one of thousands of Jewish men who had the name Jesus; that is Joshua or Yeshua. He is the Jesus from Nazareth, of Galilee… the One also born in Bethlehem of the young virgin Mary, the presumed son of the carpenter in Nazareth. He is the same one many in Peter’s audience were quite familiar with, having just two weeks earlier been witnesses to His trial before Pilate, and perhaps even added their voice to that of the mob calling for Him to be crucified.
It is this Jesus of Nazareth that Peter points out was clearly and visibly attested to by God the Father Himself. How did God the Father attest that this Jesus is The One… the One and only has come from the Father, full of grace and truth… His appointed Messiah; is "Christ? (Jn 1).
God verified that this Jesus is His Son and His Christ by doing all sorts of wonderful miracles, works of phenomenal feats, and displays of great power.
You see, no mere man from Nazareth, or anywhere else as far as that is concerned, can change ordinary water into exquisite wine, as Jesus of Nazareth did. No mere man can make a man blind from birth to see, like Jesus of Nazareth did. No mere man can command the wind and waves to obey Him as Jesus from Nazareth did. … No mere man can raise a dead boy, the only son of a widow, or a man who had been dead and in the tomb for three days to life again, like Jesus of Nazareth did! By these great miracles the Father was bringing glory to Jesus that He was more than a mere man, but was in fact, Holy God Himself in human flesh.
But the piece de resistance was that God raised this Jesus of Nazareth Himself from the dead. As Peter points out, He could not be held by death." King David centuries prior testified concerning the Christ, that His flesh would not even see corruption. Death could not defeat the Author of Life! There is no mistaking God the Father’s testimony concerning Jesus of Nazareth when He bodily rose from the dead after being in the tomb for three days. This Jesus is His Father's Son… The One the Father promised to give as a gift to the world to save it… bring it peace… deliver it from the bondage to sin and decay.
However, Peter did not let his hearers skip over Jesus of Nazareth’s death as if it were nothing or just the death of some ordinary criminal. Peter's audience all knew full well they had all played a role in Jesus’ death, either directly by calling for his execution or by their complicity in the plot of the lawless leaders. But Peter also wanted them to know that Jesus’ was delivered up to death by crucifixion not merely as a victim of injustice but primarily because it was “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.”
Jesus of Nazareth did not walk blindly into a trap set by His enemies. As the Son of God, He was willing and even joyfully fulfilling His Father's will. Jesus told His followers, "For this reason the Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father" (John 10:17,18). Again Jesus said, “I have come not to be served but to give my life as a ransom for many.”
No one else could fit the bill. Jesus of Nazareth was the legitimate descendant of David through His mother in the flesh, Mary, as well as through the lineage of His adopted father Joseph. Jesus of Nazareth was heir to the throne of King David, come to save His people and, in fact, the whole world, from their real enemies, sin, death, and hell. Jesus of Nazareth gave His life in exchange under the wrath of God for the sins of those lawless ones who crucified Him, as well as you and me. In this way, the Son of God revealed in the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth who the real Savior and Lord is. And accordingly, this Jesus of Nazareth has been exalted at the right hand of God, the place of all power and glory. No other Jesus, or Budha, or Mohamed, or Joseph Smith sits there. No wonder even King David, by the power of the Holy Spirit, saw Jesus’ day and called Him his Lord. Whom are you going to put your trust in as your Savior and Lord?
But Jesus of Nazareth was pointed out to be the true Messiah; that is, the true Christ, also by the third person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. As Peter also mentions, it was Jesus of Nazareth who had received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit.
This Holy Spirit was poured out fully and visibly upon Jesus at His baptism in the Jordan River. There Jesus of Nazareth became the Christ; the Anointed One. There Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit, fully marked and empowered to be God’s Christ, the appointed sacrificial Lamb to atone for the sins of the whole world. The Holy Spirit was never and will never be poured out again on an individual like He was upon Jesus. The Holy Spirit testified that this Jesus of Nazareth is the One… the only…Son of God and eternal Savior.
But the Holy Spirit has not stopped with this visible testimony to Jesus of Nazareth. Just as Holy Spirit spoke through David and the other prophets centuries before Jesus testifying to the Messiah to come, so the Holy Spirit speaks through Jesus’ chosen disciples; that is, His apostles, testifying that Jesus of Nazareth is that Messiah. By quoting from the Prophet Joel concerning the time of the coming of the Messiah and all the signs that would accompany that coming, Peter was telling his Jerusalem audience that what they were hearing and seeing from and in Peter and his fellow apostles was the true fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. The Holy Spirit was now upon them to truly be Jesus’ witnesses in the world. Jesus Himself had predicted as much. He assured The Twelve on the night He was betrayed, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning (John 15:26,27).”
Peter and company’s witness to Jesus’ resurrection, as well as to His atoning death for sinners, is still alive and working by the power of the Holy Spirit wherever their witness as written down in the Holy Bible is truthfully preached, taught, and proclaimed. The Holy Spirit is still witnessing that Jesus of Nazareth is the One.. the One and only Savior… The Trinity’s Jesus.
Even in this malaise of false Jesus’s that percolates throughout our society today, there ought to be no guesswork for you as to the identity of the real Jesus… the real Jesus who is your only Savior from sin and death… Who is your true righteousness before God…. Who is the only Shepherd of your soul…. Who is your true help in every need…. Who alone is the Incarnate One who is always with you.
The real Jesus is not the one so carefully choreographed and made to the order of the wishes of sinful human hearts. Rather He is the One testified to and proclaimed by the Holy Trinity Himself, this Jesus of Nazareth. He is the One you can trust to save you. To borrow Peter’s final word of exhortation: “(Let all the house of Israel) Let all the house sinners, therefore, know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus (whom you crucified) who was crucified on account of your sins. He’s your real Christ!