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Approximately 2000 years ago, a Jewish man named Peter preached a message in Jerusalem to the Jewish people during the feast of Pentecost or Shavu’ot, the third feast of Israel mentioned in Leviticus 23. It was after the Spirit of God came upon Peter, that he gave the following message…
“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it. For David [King David] speaketh concerning Him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer [allow] Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; Thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher [tomb] is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He [God] would raise up Christ to sit on His throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord [Jesus], sit Thou on My right hand, Until I make Thy foes Thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ [Messiah].” (Acts 2:22-36)
Fact 1 - The miracles Jesus performed were witnessed by the Jews that Peter was preaching to. The miracles authenticated Jesus’ claim that He was sent from God as the Jewish leader, Nicodemus, recognized. “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with Him.” (John 3:1-2) And as Jesus says, “the same works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father hath sent Me.” (John 5:36)
Fact 2 - The death of the Messiah for the sins of the world was the predetermined plan of God and was foreseen by the prophet Isaiah. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:5) “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; he hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin....” (vs. 10) “He hath poured out His soul unto death...and He bare the sin of many....” (v.12) Notice very closely the language the prophet is using. Isaiah’s standard way of referring to the Jewish people was in the first person plural (“our” or “we”) as he does 2 times in verse 5. However in verse 5, 10 and 12 of this 53rd chapter of Isaiah, as well in other chapters where he is speaking about the Messiah, he uses the third-person singular (“he”, “his”, “him”) 7 times in these three verses alone. This shows that Isaiah was not referring to the nation Israel, which was suffering and being persecuted at the time by the Assyrian empire, but was referring to a person (singular) to come who would suffer, die, and bare the sins of the people. No longer would the high priest have to sacrifice a goat once a year on the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. Isaiah foresaw the perfect sacrifice to come. He saw the One who would “bare the sin of many” and end all sacrifices - The Messiah. Jesus is both the sacrificial sin offering and the scapegoat mentioned in Leviticus 16. The scapegoat was the goat on whom the sins of Israel were laid and carried away into the wilderness.
Fact 3 - As a Jew, speaking to fellow Jews, Peter places the responsibility of Jesus’ crucifixion on his Jewish brethren. Here is why: the chief priests and scribes plotted to kill Him (Matthew 26:3-4). The chief priests paid Judas to betray Him (Mark 14:10-11). The chief priests and Pharisees had him arrested (John 18:1-12). He was put on trial before the high priest and the Sanhedrin where He was beaten and then condemned to die (Mark, 14:53-65). The religious leaders delivered Him to Pilate to be tried and then instigated the crowd to yell for His crucifixion (Matthew 27:1-2, 15-26). On the basis of these facts, Peter was justified in saying to his Jewish brethren concerning Jesus, that “ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain”. (Acts 2:23) However, it must be noted that while the Jews were responsible in putting Jesus to death, they were not solely responsible. The Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, gave the final order to crucify Him (Luke 23:23-24). It was Roman soldiers who whipped Him, put the crown of thorns on His head, spit on Him, beat Him, and then lastly nailed Him to the cross and thrust a spear in His side. (Mark 15:15-25, John 19:33-34) The reason why Peter did not address the fact that the Gentiles were also responsible for crucifying Jesus is because He was addressing a Jewish audience. Ultimately, however, we are all responsible for the death of Christ. Listen to the testimony of the prophets of Israel. The LORD God has made clear through the prophet Ezekiel: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:20) There is a penalty to be paid for sinning against God. Yet physical death is not the end of it: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book.” (Exodus 32:33) This isn’t an address book God is speaking of; it’s the book of eternal life. And there is an eternal consequence if God blots you out of His book: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15) Due to the fact that you have sinned against God, as He says through the prophet Jeremiah, “ye all have transgressed against Me, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 2:29), you will then be blotted out of His book and cast into the lake of fire on the great and terrible day of judgment. Ezekiel, Moses, and Jeremiah warned the nation of Israel of sin, death, and judgment to come. Yet the God of Israel is merciful toward His people and promised through the prophet Isaiah that there would come One who would bare and take away the sins from the Jewish people. (Reread point 2) And since “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20), Jesus went to the cross to die for the sins of Gentiles as well. Both Jews and Gentiles played a hand in His crucifixion 2000 years ago, and today both Jew and Gentile have a Jewish Messiah who “bare the sin of many” and “poured out His soul unto death” so we wouldn’t be blotted out from God’s book of life. It is in this sense, that we are all responsible for the death of Christ because He paid our sin penalty through His atoning and sacrificial death.
Fact 4 - Peter, as well as all the other apostles, witnessed, talked with, and touched the bodily resurrected Christ. “And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith He to Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and Reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God. After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias. After that, He was seen of about five hundred brethren at once…” (John 20:26-28, 21:1, 1 Corinthians 15:6)