Acts 4: The Cornerstone

The healing of a beggar in chapter three provoked a commotion and all the officials come to see what is going on. They demand to know by what power these things are being accomplished. The Apostles declare plainly through the power of the Holy Spirit that it was in the name of Jesus. (Notice that the Holy Spirit empowers them to testify about the resurrection of Jesus… Make no mistake the book of Acts is about Jesus.)

Peter presses in to the rulers that they are the ones who crucified Jesus. He references a teaching moment of Jesus just prior to his death, burial and resurrection (2 months before this event… You can find it in Matthew 21:33-46). Jesus tells a parable about wicked tenants who reject the owners right over a certain property and ultimately kill the owners son. He then goes on to quote Psalm 118:22-23 and says “the stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” implicating the Pharisees rejection of Jesus (and by association murder).

Now Peter throws it out again, this time spelling it out just in case they didn’t get it. “Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the chief corner stone” (Acts 4:11, ESV). Any attempt to build a platform to reach up to Heaven must have the Risen Christ as the corner stone. These men in the temple not only rejected Jesus but among them were men who set in motion the false arrest, trial and murder of Jesus.

These are some wicked dudes and Peter lets them know. But here is where the real power of the gospel lies… The sovereign plan of God takes the most wicked sin imaginable (the murder of GOD – John 1:1-3) and uses that very same act to cause the greatest good man has ever known (redemption and the forgiveness of sins) through the resurrection… They meant it for evil… but God intended it for good.

What a glorious God we serve. Every attempt to trump the gospel is turned on its head and proves the gospel even more true: Injustice is transformed into lavish grace, where men pour out their hatred, the love of God is made manifest, where men fight to exercise control, God proves his sovereign plan.

Acts 2: Babel has Come Undone in Jerusalem

Descent of the Holy Spirit DoreSo here we are in Acts 2. The Apostles have stayed in Jerusalem at the Lord’s request (Acts 1:4). Jerusalem is the launching point for the gospel to go to the whole world (Acts 1:8).  They have been with the risen Christ for forty days before he ascended into heaven (Acts 1:3) and now they have waited another ten days for the Holy Spirit to come (Pentecost occurs 50 days after the Passover… Jesus was crucified at the time of the Passover). I’ve written before about Pentecost, you can read a brief PDF here.

As we anticipated yesterday something amazing happens because the disciples were obedient to the Lord’s command. The Holy Spirit comes, they preach, and three thousand souls are added to the church that day (2:41)… They are indeed fishing for men (Luke 5:1-11).

What is truly amazing is that through the power of the Holy Spirit each person is hearing the gospel in their own language. It’s the tower of Babel in reverse (Genesis 11:1-9). At the tower of Babel God had confused the language of the people because of their sin and rebellion. But now Jesus has made the ultimate sacrifice for sin. He is calling lost sinners to come home. He speaks to them through their own native language here in Jerusalem and ultimately the gospel will reach to the very ends of the earth (Revelation 5:9). What was done at Babel was coming undone.

What’s compelling here is that these men, the Apostles have come to Jerusalem. It’s not their home. This point is driven almost to the point of absurdity when men of the crowd recognize them as Galileans (2:7). This was a big deal the day because Galilee was a somewhat recently resettled state of Israel. They would have had the reputation of back wood hicks (John 1:46) and probably looked and talked differently than the folks in Jerusalem (Luke 22:59).

At this point you’re probably saying, I get that they were from Galilee… What’s the big deal? Exactly! You’re supposed to ask that! You are supposed to see that the disciples didn’t go to their home first (in all fairness they had already been there through the years of ministry with Jesus)! They went to the city and they went to the city on the day that everyone from all over the world would be there. The gospel went to the nations by way of Jerusalem because the nations were in Jerusalem that day (2:-11)!

I think the bigger point here is to obey God (even in the small things) after all it’s His plan. Yet how often do we put our confidence in the flesh thinking WE have a snazzy plan… of course our snazzy plan usually discounts the Spirit of God and chalks things like a language barrier as impossible to over come or at least a long way off. Can you imagine if the disciples had packed it in and tried to gain a stronger foothold in Galilee?