Reverend Anthony R. Locke
April 24th, 2011 www.FirstPresTucker.org
at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker
This was the 2011 Easter Sermon
Read the 2011 ARP Magazine “Easter Edition” here
Acts 10:34-43 English Standard Version
34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality,
35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all),
37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed:
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.
39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree,
40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear,
41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.
43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
None of the disciples were expecting to find Jesus resurrected, even though Jesus had told them over and over again that He would be killed and rise again on the third day.
Early in the morning after the Sabbath, in the predawn darkness of Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and her best friends went to the tomb to embalm the body of Jesus.
But someone had already made the trip that morning. The huge boulder was rolled aside and the body of Jesus was gone.
Everyone just assumed that someone stole the body.
Mary runs to tell Simon Peter and John saying, They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him! (John 20:2)
None of the disciples thought they would ever see Jesus alive.
The Apostle John admits, as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. (John 20:9)
This puts any skeptics here today in the company of the Apostles, disciples and friends of Jesus. Everyone must be convinced. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Mary makes her way back to the tomb to find two people inside the grave seated on the ledge where the body of Jesus was supposed to be.
And when the angel asks her why she is crying she again replies, someone has taken the body of my Lord and I don’t know where they have put it!
Mary cannot treat the body of Jesus with the dignity He deserves. Her last act of love is un-received.
Still weeping, still in shock and unbelief, still not expecting a miracle, Mary turns around, and sees Jesus standing there. Mary assumes that Jesus is the gardener.
Jesus asks, Woman – why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?
Mary responds again saying, Tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.
And when Jesus speaks her name the clouds of doubt clear, all pain and sorrow flee from her soul, and she comes to faith that Jesus is alive and standing right in front of her.
Mary is the first person to believe that Jesus is resurrected.
And Mary grabs a hold of Jesus. She embraces him and clings to him.
Jesus can be found alive today. If we pursue Jesus with tears, if we strongly desire to lavish our acts of devotion and love upon Him, if we call out for Jesus, then He will speak our name and enable us to embrace Him as He is offered in the Gospel.
Jesus will enable us to believe if we seek Him.
And when we cling to Jesus the troubles of this world grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
There is power in the name of Jesus. The resurrection removed the chains.
Like the walls of Jericho which came crashing down, Jesus pulled down the walls of Hell. Jesus unlocks the prison and releases the captives.
Jesus conquered the grave. He defeated death and holds the key to life everlasting.
This is the power of the resurrected Lord Jesus. Mountains move through His name. Kingdoms of the Devil fall and the Kingdom of God is established.
Verse 34, through His name the door to eternal salvation is opened for those of us who are not the chosen people of God.
The Gospel was not given to Gentiles. The Jews were the chosen people of God. But after the resurrection, through the name of Jesus, we Gentiles are welcome.
God had called Peter to preach the good news of the Gospel to the Jews, but now that same Gospel must be preached to the Gentiles. God shows no partiality.
The same faith, repentance and conversion is available for people who are not Jews.
The anointing of the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost upon 3,000 Jews. That same anointing of the Holy Spirit is poured out on the Gentiles through the resurrection.
but in every nation anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to God.
In the resurrection we are all treated equally. We are all sinners saved by grace.
Recently, I was reading through the old church records. Some of the people here this morning joined this church back in the 1940’s. That’s amazing. I have a lot of respect for those people. But if you just walked into church for the first time this morning, through the name of Jesus, you have equal standing before God as people who have called Him Lord their whole life.
None of us have leverage over God’s grace. We are all equally received.
God embraces all His children, all ethnicities, all languages, all colors and nationality.
Jesus is alive and yearning to speak the name of those of us who were not His people that we might be called the Holy people of God.
And when Jesus speaks your name, the stubborn heart is broken and the soul becomes alive to see Jesus in His glory.
We embrace Jesus and the Heavenly Father embraces us. With warm affection the Father takes us up in His arms and gives us a kiss that marks us as His. No longer are we held at arms distance. If we fear God, live by the book, and do what is right, then God will accept us.
God is no respecter of persons.
In the past the Jews were the chosen people of God. That’s the point of verse 36.
God sent the good news of peace through prophets like John the Baptist who preached, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!
The prophets preached that Messiah would bind up our wounds, heal our sin and forgive our transgressions.
Jesus has always been the good news of peace for people of faith.
- Jesus is the Shalom of God to His people.
- Jesus is the eternal rest of the Sabbath.
- The blood of Jesus ratifies the covenant of peace,
- Only through Jesus does the land find peace
- families find peace with Jesus
- a stiff necked nation is brought to peace by the work of a humble servant.
- As Lord of All, Jesus brings us and the Father to peace.
Verse 37, this Gospel was not accomplished in secret. Jesus wanted people to understand this gospel message.
The story of Jesus was common knowledge in and around Palestine, Judea, Galilee, Nazareth and Jerusalem. 10’s of thousands of people could verify the unique life of Jesus.
Verse 38 teaches that Jesus was anointed by God the Father as Messiah. This anointing happened at His baptism. The heavens opened and the Spirit of God fell upon Jesus like a dove.
The whole nation could verify that Jesus was anointed with power. He went about doing good. Jesus healed all the people who came to Him. No one was cast out.
It was no surprise that Jesus went head to head with the powers of darkness. Jesus cast out demons. If you were oppressed, then Jesus offered freedom.
Verse 39, Peter and his companions were eye witnesses to these events.
And now Peter is evangelizing a Gentile Roman Soldier who had an angel tell him to go fetch a man named Peter and listen to his Gospel message about Jesus.
And Peter preaches the Gospel message to the crowd that formed at this man’s home.
What themes are in a Gospel message? That the chosen people rejected their king. That they crucified Jesus, but God resurrected His Only Begotten Son on the third day, just as Jesus predicted, and appeared to many in the region who could testify to His glory and resurrection.
Verse 40, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear. Peter always mentions the resurrection when he preaches.
The book of Acts records at least five sermons by Peter. Peter denied the Lord, but he also spoke the truth earlier than his peers.
It was Peter who first confessed faith that Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
And that confession, paired with the sanguine personality of Peter, is the rock on which the Kingdom of God is built.
God used the resurrection preaching of Peter at Pentecost to open the door of the Gospel to the Jews. God then used the resurrection preaching of Peter to Cornelius to open the doors of the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Verse 42 explains why we fear Jesus in the same way that we fear God. Jesus is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.
Jesus will sit high and lifted up at the Great White Throne judgment. We must prepare for His Second Coming.
How do we get ready to see Jesus face to face?
And, verse 43, all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. Through the power of the resurrected Jesus our sins are forgiven.
Jesus has pulled down the walls of Hell itself, unlocks the prison and releases the captives.
through His name the doors to eternal salvation have swung wide open.
Anyone here this morning can become convinced of the resurrection, believe in Jesus and receive forgiveness through His name.
It’s good news for everyone: black and white, rich and poor, male and female, witty, wealthy, wise or dumb. Jesus died for everyone and through Jesus God is calling everyone to himself. No one is separated from God’s love.
Jesus is alive and He is Lord of all! He is not hiding. Jesus wants you to find Him. Jesus looks forward to speaking your name, awakening your soul and forgiving your sin.
This is the message of Easter. Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed.
May we be blessed this Easter with all that Jesus can accomplish in our life through His name. Amen.
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.