The coming of the Holy Spirit to the church at Pentecost was the outcome of the reception of the Spirit by the exalted Christ in heaven. On this occasion, Peter uses the arrival of the Spirit as the evidence that Jesus has truly been exalted. Of course, the coming of the Spirit points to other aspects of the work of Christ such as his desire to forgive sinners and his determination to empower his people. Yet we are not to ignore the judgemental aspect of the exaltation of Jesus because Peter, in quoting from Psalm 110 here, makes it clear that one guaranteed outcome of his enthronement is that all his enemies will become his footstool. The great occasion of this outcome will be the Day of Judgement.
In verses 33-35, there is reference made to two promises of the Father to his Son. One promise was made to him before he became a man: the Father promised his Son that he would receive the Holy Spirit upon completion of his work of atonement. This promise has been fulfilled at Pentecost, and is being fulfilled throughout the period between the two comings of Jesus. The second promise was made by the Father to the Son when the Son sat down on the throne of God. This promise, of making his enemies his footstool, is a reminder that Jesus will have total victory.
The second promise is also a statement that calls believers to realism. Enemies of Jesus will exist until the Father causes them all to bow the knee to Jesus Christ. Many of his enemies, and the systems and organisations they formed, have been defeated. No doubt, others will appear, as the war continues between the enemies of Christ and his cause. His followers are not to expect an easy journey through life.
Yet these twofold promises of the Father call for a response from us. Each revival that we read about, each conversion that we are informed about, each Christian that we meet, testify to us that Jesus is Lord because they are the evidences of the work of the Spirit. Each political demise, each collapse of an empire, each disintegration of a prominent idea or opinion, also testifies to the activity of the Father in making Christ’s enemies into his footstool.
We will see in the next section of this sermon by Peter the response which he called for from the people. This response is twofold: a recognition that Jesus is Lord and repentance for our rebellion against him. The response that he called for on the Day of Pentecost is the same response that he calls for today.