Today it is common for businesses and other enterprises to have a slogan or mission statement that summarises their purpose. One statement that states the purpose of the church in a very clear way is ‘Christianity is Christ’. We have already noted that Luke is presenting his material in Acts as the activities of the risen Christ. Now as we continue to look at Peter’s sermon, we can see from its contents that Christianity is Christ.
We noticed in the previous reading that Peter began his explanation of the significance of Pentecost by referring to the prophecy of Joel in which he predicted the outpouring of the Spirit. In developing his explanation, Peter moves from the biblical passage that described Pentecost to the One who was in control of Pentecost, that is Jesus Christ. Peter’s sermon structure thus contains two essential features of a sermon: biblically based and Christ-centred.
Peter begins his Christ-centred section of his sermon by summarising the public ministry of Jesus: he was ‘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’ (v. 22). In these words, Peter reveals the main purpose of the various miracles which Jesus performed. They were the evidence that the promised Messiah, the one predicted in the Old Testament, had come. These signs were visible evidences, no one could deny that they had taken place.
Of course, there are many aspects of the life of Jesus that Peter could have mentioned. He could have described some of his teachings or some of his devotional practices such as his prayer life. Further, Peter could have explained the necessity of Jesus living a life of inner and outward obedience to God’s commandments, both as providing a life of obedience for his people as their righteousness before God and as qualifying Jesus to be the sinless sinbearer of the transgressions of his people. The fact is, there are too many aspects of Christ’s life to be included in one sermon, and Peter was led by God to focus on the aspect of his Saviour’s life that was most suitable for his audience.
Tomorrow we will think about what Peter said about the death of Jesus. Meanwhile we can pray that preachers will prepare Christ-centred sermons.