What Should We Do?

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35     until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.” 40 Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”

41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. Acts 2:29-41 ESV

Peter, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, continues his explanation of the events that have just taken place. After having heard the disciples speaking in a variety of foreign languages, the crowds had been amazed, perplexed and bewildered. Some had asked what the meaning was behind what they had just witnessed. Others simply accused the disciples of drunkenness. So, Peter, spoke up and began to address both issues. He flatly denied the accusation of public intoxication, writing it off as illogical. No God-fearing Jew would be drunk at that hour of the day, and certainly not a crowd of 120, made up of men and women. But then, Peter had begun his attempt to answer the question, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12 ESV). Quoting from a psalm of David, he used the words of the former king of Israel as evidence that Jesus was the Messiah, and that what the crowd had just witnessed was the fulfillment of prophecy. King David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had written, “For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption” (Acts 2:27 ESV). But Peter points out that David did eventually die and “his tomb is with us to this day” (Acts 2:29 ESV). So, obviously, his body did suffer decay and undergo corruption. Acknowledging David as a prophet of God, Peter interprets David’s words to mean that the former king had been speaking prophetically and indicating that God was going to bring another to sit on the his throne, in keeping with God’s promise to him.

11 Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. – 2 Samuel 7:11-13 ESV

David would rule and reign vicariously through his future descendant.

“Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne…” – Acts 2:30 ESV

And Peter unequivocally states that David, when speaking of his soul not being abandoned to Hades or the Holy One not seeing corruption, he was prophesying about the coming resurrection of Jesus, which Peter and his fellow disciples had witnessed.

31 David was looking into the future and speaking of the Messiah’s resurrection. He was saying that God would not leave him among the dead or allow his body to rot in the grave.

32 “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this.” – Acts 2:31-32 NLT

This is when Peter gets to the point of his message. He is attempting to answer the question, “What does this mean?” As dramatic and unnerving as the display of the disciples speaking in foreign languages may have been, it was nothing when compared to the resurrection of Jesus. God had raised a dead man back to life. But not just any man. He had raised Jesus, the Messiah and Savior of the world, back to life. Peter was claiming Jesus to be the long-awaited Messiah and the fulfillment of God’s promise to David. Jesus was the Holy One who would sit on David’s throne and reign forever. But, Peter points out that, Jesus did not come to rule and reign from Jerusalem. At least, not yet. He says, “Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand” (Acts 2:33 NLT). Jesus had returned to heaven, where He sits at His Father’s side. And, in the meantime, He had sent the Holy Spirit to indwell His followers. That, Peter points out, is what they had just seen.

“And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.” – Acts 2:33 NLT

Peter claims that what the crowds had just seen and heard had been a work of God and a sign that Jesus had risen from the dead and had returned to heaven in glory. If you think about it, this must have sounded outlandish, even preposterous, to his Jewish audience. As miraculous as the speaking in tongues may have been, what Peter was claiming had to have sounded far-fetched to the Jews who heard him.

But Peter was far from done. He used yet another quote from David to drive home his point. He reminds his listeners that David never ascended into heaven. He died and was buried. And yet, in Psalm 110:1, David had written, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool”’” (Acts 2:34-35 ESV). This is the very same psalm Jesus Himself would use to refer to Himself as the Messiah.

41 Then, surrounded by the Pharisees, Jesus asked them a question: 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

They replied, “He is the son of David.”

43 Jesus responded, “Then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, call the Messiah ‘my Lord’? For David said,

44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
    until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’

45 Since David called the Messiah ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?”

46 No one could answer him. And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions. – Matthew 22:41-46 NLT

Jesus was the Son of David, in the sense that He was a descendant of David. But He was also David’s Lord, because He was the Messiah. And David, writing under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, had clearly been speaking of the Messiah when he wrote Psalm 110. And Peter, drawing his message to a close, delivers the answer to the question that the crowd had asked.

“So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” – Acts 2:36 NLT

Peter drops the hammer. He delivers the blow that will leave his audience staggering and wondering what just hit them. Because of what he has said, they are going to have to wrestle with the weight of Peter’s claims. What if Jesus had risen from the dead as the rumor mills had been circulating? What if the remarkable display of the disciples speaking in tongues was proof? What if Peter was right and Jesus actually was the Messiah? And what if they had played a part in putting Jesus to death? This was a lot to consider. The weight of Peter’s words would have overwhelmed them, like a heavy blanket of guilt and despair. And the text points out that “Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’” (Acts 2:37 NLT).

They were overwhelmed by that they had heard. It was almost too much for them to compute. So, they asked another question. They simply wanted to know what they were supposed to do. And Peter gave them the answer.

“Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. – Acts 2:38 NLT

Peter presented the gospel. He told them the good news regarding Jesus. Through Jesus, they could be restored to a right relationship with God. By believing that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of David, and the Savior of the world, they could be redeemed and restored. But Peter didn’t stop there. He preached for some time, calling his audience to “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” (Acts 2:40 NLT). Their salvation would be found in Jesus, not themselves. Their redemption would come from faith in the Messiah, not their own self-righteousness or feeble attempts at trying to please God. And Peter’s Spirit-inspired words made an impact. Three thousand people placed their faith in Christ that day. They became believers in Jesus as their Messiah. Their lives were radically and irreversibly changed. The church had begun, and the Kingdom of God had begun to spread.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)  Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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