Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (Acts 2:23-24 ESV)
The greatest crime in world history was the murder of the Son of God. The only perfect Person to walk the earth was rejected, accused of sins he did not commit, mocked, beaten, and nailed to a wooden cross. Jesus’ crucifixion was the response of human hearts that could not stand the fact that God himself had entered their domain to bring truth and light.
This heinous act was no surprise to the sovereign Lord. In fact, Isaiah foretold that “it pleased the Lord to bruise him” and Jesus himself said that “God gave his only son” for the world. God, knowing the motives of man, sent his beloved Son into a world hostile to his purpose and message, knowing that they would resist and kill him.
How do followers of the Crucified One declare the truth of the gospel to a world so set against God that they murdered his Son? Pointedly, with conviction and hope. Peter’s sermon at Pentecost demonstrates as much. Facing Jews from around the world, Peter stood upon the foundation of the Word of God and boldly proclaimed to the people that they themselves were responsible for killing the Miracle Worker in their midst (Acts 2:22-23). He did not excuse them from culpability, a culpability borne by all sinners, for it was for sinners that Christ died.
The world’s hatred for all things godly is so overwhelming that when God himself came on the scene, he was killed. This is a grim picture. It may even seem hopeless. As we walk through this life we feel the opposition from the same world. They hated Christ. Christ said they will hate his followers. They are still trying to stamp out his image wherever they find it. We should not be surprised when the world tries to ignore, shout down, redefine, or punish the truth. After all, they nailed the Truth to a cross.
If Christ remained dead, then the world, and ultimately Satan, won. No anticipation for a new, better world. No point in praying. No hope for lost loved ones. Addiction is unbreakable, ignorance is inescapable, sin is unstoppable. If this world can destroy Christ our Hope, then all hope is lost. If Christ remained dead.
But, Peter exclaims, “God raised him up.”
And that changes everything.