The Example of the Apostle Peter

Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
–Acts 2:38

What did the apostle Peter teach about the exclusivity of Jesus Christ? Acts 2 recounts the feast of Pentecost, a few weeks after the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. These Jews had been in Jerusalem for Passover. They were there when Christ was crucified. They heard the news of His resurrection. These were the same Jews who had cried out, “Crucify Him!” These Jews went home after Passover, then they came back to Jerusalem for the celebration of Pentecost. The apostle Peter stood on the southern steps of the temple, talking to the people who a few weeks earlier had demanded the death of Jesus Christ. Notice what he said: “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know–this Man . . . you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again. . . . Let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified” (vv. 22-24, 36). Talk about courageous–Peter looked at the murderers of Jesus and said, “He was the Christ; you nailed Him to the cross.”

Peter’s words could have incited a riot. But notice how the people responded. Verse 37 says, “When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’” Peter could have said, “What? You’re Jews. You’re descendants of Abraham. You keep the feasts and offer the sacrifices. You don’t need to do anything.” Did he say that? No. In verse 38, Peter said to these Jews, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” I think it’s significant that the first sermon preached after the resurrection of Jesus Christ was preached by a Jew, the apostle Peter, to a group of Jews at Pentecost. And the message of the first sermon was this: Judaism is not enough. You need to personally trust in Christ as your Savior.

Two chapters later, in Acts 4, Peter and the apostles were teaching in the name of Jesus. Acts 4:4 says five thousand Jews had converted to Christianity. It was spreading like wildfire, and the Jewish authorities were panicked. They said, “We’ve got to put a stop to this.” So they hauled in Peter and the apostles and demanded, “We want to know in what name you are teaching and healing.” Thank goodness Peter was not infected with a case of political correctness like so many Christians today. He didn’t reason to himself, “I don’t want to offend these Jewish leaders, so I won’t use the name Jesus; I’ll just say the name of God.” No, he didn’t do that. He said, “Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by this name this man stands here before you in good health. . . . And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (vv. 10, 12).

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Jews Who Were For Jesus” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

 

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