Acts 2:22–36 (ESV):
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
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.”
Seeing in Christ
God sees things differently. Those who see with the Spirit of God see as He sees, and that vision reflects His viewpoint.
Look at how God calls things that are not as though they are… Look how God teaches Peter to see things differently than our eyes would normally see.
The staggering phrase is in verse 30, “Being therefore a prophet…” This verse is referring to David. King David. We know him as many things, but calling him a prophet doesn’t fit. He was an adulterer and a murderer. He failed. He was anointed King because he was a man after God’s own heart. But that didn’t work out so well. He took his neighbor’s wife, then killed that neighbor and tried to hide the whole thing so that people wouldn’t find out.
We know that men with these kinds of sins are not qualified to lead God’s people. We do not listen to murderers when they teach morality. We do not seek adulterers to proclaim the realities of God’s Kingdom.
But Peter, speaking by the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit calls David a prophet. And tells all of Israel that they must read and listen to his words as those of God. David’s words are true. An adulterous murdering king is called a “prophet” by God. Surely not.
But it gets worse. David is not the only one given a title he surely doesn’t deserve. At the very end of this section, a man who died as a criminal is called both Master and Messiah. The Romans didn’t crucify people in order to honor them. The Jews didn’t hand their Messiah over to Rome to provide the sacrifice for sins required in the Old Testament. The death of Jesus was the seal of one plain and public proclamation: Jesus has failed. He is not who he claimed to be. He is not from God and is not our anointed King. He is not the Son of David (ironic, no?).
Peter, once again, by the Holy Spirit, sees things differently. He does not see a dead and defeated false Messiah. He does not see a treacherous traitor subverting a nation. He does not see a Sabbath-breaking anti-Mosaic threat to the Temple and the sequestered peace of the Jewish nation. Peter sees what God sees.
In the death of Jesus, God sees the Messiah. In the death of Jesus, God sees the defeat of all of His enemies. In the death of Jesus, God sees sin and righteousness coming together not in conflict, but in a one-sided victory with no detractors.
God sees things as they truly are. We see things through eyes contaminated by sin. God sees things according to His will and plan and good pleasure. We view things through our desired dominance and fears.
We are tempted to join God in His vision of us in a way that seems right in our eyes. We don’t want to see ourselves in light of our sin and failures, so we learn to love ourselves and put a positive spin on things. We seek to avoid hatred of self or loathing of ourselves, and so we turn to self-love and the esteem of self. The solution to our problem is us. This solution, however, does not mitigate the problem. Instead, this only exacerbates the issue. Our vision is still not His.
God sees the way He sees through the incarnate eyes of His Son. From the cross, Jesus saw sinners and called for forgiveness. Jesus saw evil and responded in prayer. Jesus saw punishment and promised paradise. Jesus saw the absence of the Father and called upon Him. Jesus saw the world and was God’s love for it. Jesus saw the world and all the sin, Jesus saw the hatred and all the brokenness. And He pronounced it worthy of His life and His love. Jesus died and was laid in a tomb, but saw the door of resurrection.
Through these eyes, God sees David as a prophet and the man after His own heart. Through these eyes, God hears the complaints in the Psalms as prayers in faith. Through these eyes, God sees those who killed His Son as the people for whom He died.
And now, through His resurrection, we learn to see.
First, we learn to see Jesus as Lord and Christ (Messiah). We learn to see clearly that Jesus is our salvation and hope. We learn to see clearly that all of our fear, love, and trust find their object and goal in Jesus alone. We learn to see the destiny of this life in the death and resurrection of the one whom God raised. We learn to see our life in His and His life in ours. We learn to see His second coming as the progress for which we yearn.
Then, we learn to see people as He sees them. No longer marked by their sin and failures, we see people as those for whom the Messiah came and died. We learn to see people in God’s Kingdom and living according to His will and design. We learn to see people not for their failures, but for whom God has called them to be.
We learn to see in love. Not generic love or impotent love, but love that loves in a way that sinners are saved. We learn to see through the love of the one who is Lord and Christ.
If Peter (a betrayer of Jesus), speaking through the Holy Spirit, can call David not an adulterer and murderer, but a prophet, what does that mean for you?
Listen to the words of God Himself. He knows your sin. He knows your failures. He knows your thoughts. And He calls you to the cross of Christ. He calls you to the empty tomb and the resurrection. And there, in the death and resurrection of Jesus, He calls you to repent. He calls you to trust in Jesus for salvation. And He calls you His own.
He sees you through the promises of His Word. He sees you through the promises of your Baptism. He sees you at the table of His Supper. He sees you in His promises kept. He sees you in Christ. And Jesus is the Lord and Messiah. And Jesus is your advocate before the Father.
God can call David a prophet. And David was a terrible sinner. God can call Jesus the Lord and Messiah. And Jesus was dead.
But now Jesus is risen. He is Lord and Christ.
Imagine what God can call you – maybe even “saint.” In Christ the Lord it is so. Amen.