We began looking at this passage earlier this morning, and I mentioned the context of this passage is the arrest of Peter and John after the healing man at the Gate Beautiful in the Temple at Jerusalem. What ensued was preaching of the resurrected Christ, and they were arrested by the religious authorities because of proclaiming Christ. And then Peter and john the next day are brought before an official convening of the Sanhedrin, the ruling religious body in Israel. These are the very people who were responsible for the arrest and execution of Jesus Christ. And as Peter and John come before them they ask the question in verse 7, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?” The idea behind by what name is by what personality. The name in the ancient world stood for the entirety of the person. And it is not that they didn’t know the answer. Peter and John had proclaimed openly that the power to heal the lame man was through the resurrected Christ. They were looking for some reason to condemn these men, and what better way than these men professing their allegiance to a condemned man who was a pronounced enemy of the Roman Empire.
And you can imagine how easily it would be to be filled with fear in a situation like this. These were the men who hated Christ and condemned Christ. And we asked in our early morning service: what difference does the resurrection of Jesus Christ make in the life. And one of the things it gives is moral or spiritual bravery. It causes the believer to speak and live out the truth of the gospel like they could never have if Christ was dead. Remember after the arrest of Jesus Christ that all the disciples fled and deserted Jesus Christ. In fact Peter even denied knowing or being a follower of Christ three times that very night. Afterward they are found hiding in a locked upper room. So what changed? Look at the answer that Peter gives in verses 8-10. Peter is honest with these leaders and does not try and soft pedal the truth. He identifies the power to heal this man was the power of Christ, and he identifies Him as the one, “whom you crucified.” And by saying that God raised Him and they crucified him it is apparent that they are at odds with God. The thing that changed for these men is that Christ is alive. We do not worship a martyr but One who is alive forevermore, and because all of his works and words have been validated by the Father as authentic and truth, we can trust in Him. He is alive and that changes everything. And that is what we celebrate today. We can trust in everything that He said, and recognize in a real and vital way. As the great sovereign who has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel, he gives the encouragement, “and lo, I am with you always.” Who is with us always? It is the resurrected and living Christ. The resurrection is the victory over doubt, sin, and death. Without the resurrection our faith is worthless.
And the question you have to ask yourself is: do you see the purpose and significance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ? What difference does it make in your life? Does it energize you to speak of Christ? The resurrection of Christ makes all the difference and will make you a joyous and bold and loving witness of Jesus Christ. And the second reason why the resurrection of Christ is so important because it shows that salvation is found in Him alone. There is no other way to come into the presence of a holy God and be saved from His just and all-consuming wrath. And do you recognize the significance that without the resurrection there is no salvation? God want us to see the significance of this and be in awe that all that needs to be done has been done and all who trust in Him have eternal salvation.
1. In order to see the significance of the resurrection we must realize there is a rejection. V.11
The incredible thing about Jesus Christ is how many people reject Him, or even still cast dispersion on Him as far as the Gospel presentation. The world cannot stand for a resurrected Christ because most of what they have done or held dear is condemned and must change. And if you ever want to see the significance of the resurrection just look at the enemies of the cross and see how vehement they are in condemning Christ. I remember listening to a radio broadcast once that blamed most of the problems in the world with belief in God, and for Christians’ belief in Christ. He is to be blamed for wars and all the atrocities done to man. It is not sin but Christ. Those are strong words. If the world wants its sin then they have to denounce that Christ lives no matter how much evidence there is.
Look at verse 11, “He is the stone which was rejected by you.” The “He” is Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ is the stone. The idea of “rejected” is that it was discarded and thrown away as worthless. Stones were used in the ancient world for construction, and it was different from having cinder block or bricks that were all the same size but they were masterfully put together by artisans. Some stones were seen as valuable and useful and some stones were rejected. And right here this is a quote that is taken from Psalm 118:22, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.” Here Peter adds the words “rejected by you” to bring as much conviction as possible. They loved their position and prestige and honor among the people, and they didn’t like that Christ threatened all of that. What happens if Christ starts a revolution and all of this is taken away? We have to bow to Him, shouldn’t it be the other way around? He just could not exist. He threatened what they held dear.
And look at what they are called: “the builders.” Now what does that mean? The builders are the religious leaders of the nation. They should, out of all people, have seen the significance of Christ and that all their knowledge of God and all the O.T. Scriptures were predicated upon this very stone of Jesus Christ. They did not reject Him on any theological grounds but rejected Him on the basis of their wants and desires.
And that is what we see in the world. If you love your sin, this is has got to be the most terrible news that Christ lives, that everything that He said and claimed for Himself, and everything He said about humanity is true, so therefore this stone has to be reject. But just because people reject this stone does not change what God thinks about this stone or how God has chosen to use this stone.
Look at the contrast with God, “But which has become the chief cornerstone.” And the religious leaders had to get the message, and it is the same message for any who lead others away from Christ, and that is they are leading them away from God. They rejected the Christ God accepted Christ, and God made Him the chief cornerstone. And what this meant is that all the eternal purposes of God would be built on the accomplished work of the resurrected Christ, and what He is doing today. He is the chief stone. This stone was the most important stone that was carefully chosen by the craftsmen, and everything other aspect of the building was built on it. It not only governed the building but took the weight of the building. Without the chief stone the whole building would collapse. The building that God is constructing today is the church. The foundation of all the church does and is, is built on the finished work and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was a severe charge against the religious leaders.
And do you recognize that Christianity lives or dies on the validity of the resurrection? Why is this stone the foundation of everything that we do and say? Think about it. The resurrection of Christ tells us that all the words and claims of Christ can be trusted. Christ was either a madman or the Savior of the world and the God-man. He cannot be both. And God would not resurrect a blasphemer. What is interesting in this passage of Scripture is that these haters or Christ never debate whether Christ is risen because far too many people have seen Jesus Christ alive. His words and statements have all been validated by the Father, and they tell us that Jesus Christ can be trusted. The good news is you can look into the word and trust Him.
If the wages of sin is death, and Christ is my sin-bearer, and he did not come forth from the grave, how do I know that all my sin has been paid for? How do I know that He has paid the price and carried my sin eternally away? The reason I can know is because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Death could not hold the Savior because He had paid the full penalty, and because He paid it in full it would be unjust of the Father to keep Him in death. The joy of the Father is that it is enough. The resurrection is not the capstone of a terrible story gone wrong where God makes everything right but it is the hope of all believers.
The resurrection of Christ takes the sting of death away. Since God accepts this stone and makes this the Chief stone and we are related to Him and in Christ then I know that I must rise also. We will rise is the glorious truth that has been taught throughout the Christian ear by believers in Jesus Christ. Do you recognize the truth that since Jesus rose and you are related to Him that must rise also? The resurrection of Jesus Christ is vehemently rejected today but for us it is a truth to be treasure. He is the chief cornerstone of all our hope and praise.
2. In order to see the significance of the resurrection we must realize there is salvation in no one else. V.12
Really it is incredible to see the love of God. These haters of God are some of the first individuals to hear this message of the gospel. And the truth of God is that there is only hope in Him. There is hope in no other person, whether Confucius, or Buddha, or Allah, or any other person or name. Salvation is not found in any work of a saint of the past, not Abraham or David or Moses, or Calvin or Luther. Salvation is only found in Christ, and maybe this is one of the reasons that we do not see the immensity of this truth. God is not a pluralist. Pluralism basically teaches that all roads lead to heaven or that all faiths are basically teaching the same thing just in a different way. But how can that be? Islam teaches that Christ was just a prophet and not the Savior of the world. This is contrary to Christianity. One can be right or both can be wrong but both cannot be right. Christianity teaches there is only one God while Hinduism teaches that there are hundreds of thousands of gods. One can be right or the other right or both can be wrong, but both cannot be right. And the ramifications of getting salvation wrong are eternal. The Christ who is alive today is the only place where salvation is found.
Look at the declaration that is made by Peter in one of the most recognizable declarations of the Gospel in all the Word of God: “And there is salvation in no one else.” In the last verse although Paul does not state it explicitly, is the idea that judgment would come upon these religious leaders for the murder of the Messiah, but there is hope, and hope is found in this verse. And it is the greatest of hopes. Spurgeon actually preached a sermon on this verse and titled it, “The Intolerance of Christianity.” Whatever way these men were hoping to come into the presence of God, and it certainly was not through Christ whom they rejected, there is no salvation.
Now look at what Peter says next, “for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Now again, when you see the word name it stands for the totality of the person and also His authority. The one who gives salvation is one that is not dead but one who is alive and through the authority that has been given the living Christ He dispenses salvation to all who believe. And there is no other way. “Under heaven” means in all his creation. The word “saved” was used to describe the physical healing of the lame man that was healed, but here there is a need of spiritual salvation. And the uneasy question that so many have wrestled with is whether they will be accepted before God. The reason for that uneasiness is because there is a sense of guilt. We have sinned. We have all done things wrong. “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” The more we look into the Word the more we recognized how sin has been the character of our life. And Christ came to save us not just from our sins, but the just penalty of our sins, which is the wrath of God. There is a just penalty of the fury of God. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God. We need to be saved or rescued and that rescue has to come outside of us.
The eternal decision point for all humanity and every individual person is Jesus Christ. It is what you do with Christ. And this is really another statement of the deity of Christ. The Sanhedrin would agree that salvation is found in God alone. Isaiah 43:13, “Even from eternity I am He, and there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?” Isaiah 45:22, “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other.” Jonah 2:9, “Salvation is from the Lord.” The difference here that Peter insists that the exclusive means by which God will save is through Jesus Christ.
What follows is significant. They recognize that these men had been with Jesus, and they also recognize that an authentic miracle had taken place. Yet they had worn out their welcome with Pilate so they couldn’t keep bringing innocent men before them, so they commanded them and warned them not to speak in this name any longer. They replied that they can only obey God, which was an amazing answer in light of what had happened to Jesus Christ, but again, what a difference the resurrected Christ makes in our lives.
And as we close this morning let ask you: what difference does the resurrection of Jesus Christ make in your life? It is so easy to say that we have been trusting in Christ but have we? Do we recognize that He is alive and all of His words and work has been validated by the Father? Death could not hold Him in its sway. And you need to recognize that there is no other way. Whatever you are trusting in is a rejection of Jesus Christ. There is no other way or path or road. In fact there are only two paths. This is the broad path that the vast majority of Christianity is on, or the narrow path of Jesus Christ. You need to trust in Him and only in Him. Believer the way that you need to respond is to celebrate. The assurance of all the promises of God, or your future resurrected life with Christ are found in His resurrection, and no matter what is in your life it is the greatest promise and assurance in your life that God is for you and not against you. It should cause us to have such a confidence in God that we like Peter and John can live radical, devoted lives in showing and displaying and telling of His glory. Celebrate the resurrection with the entirety of your life.