Pastor Nelson Bonilla: 4-16-23 “Evidence of the Resurrection”

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ACTS 2:14 a, 22-32

Last Sunday we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and I spoke about the power of this great event. Today we start seeing the results of this event. We are familiar with today’s scripture from the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit has just been poured out on that group of believers gathered in Jerusalem. After this, they launched into the streets proclaiming the Good News, with each person miraculously sharing the message in his or her own native language. As we might expect, the entire scene created both questions and criticism. Nothing like this had ever happened in the history of Israel. Peter the one who denied Jesus using bad words has become a new person and used this opportunity to speak to the crowd and to announce the reason for these strange events. This was the first evangelistic sermon! Peter presented his evidence and demonstrated that Jesus was, indeed, who he said he was: The Messiah, God’s Anointed One, sent to save his people from their sins.

Pentecost in Jesus’s time was a harvest celebration, Jerusalem was full of people who had come to celebrate. Exodus 23: 14-17 requires all men to participate in the festivity, therefore, men from different parts of the known world came. I believe many of those present in Jerusalem were there when Jesus was crucified 50 days earlier. The saw Jesus hanging on the cross and now they are listening that Jesus is alive; they are listening His disciples preaching the good news of his resurrection. In Jerusalem many people were wondering about Jesus; trying to make sense about the news of His resurrection and maybe expecting some evidence to support the great miracle people were talking about. In his speech Peter presented some evidence.

I. Evidence number one: The Scripture. Peter quoted Psalm 16:8-1 where David is -according to his interpretation- talking about the Messiah.

Evidence number two: Jesus’ Life (v. 22b) “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.

Peter’s second proof or evidence was the life Jesus lived, particularly the “deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him.” Nom doubt that many men and women in Peter’s audience had seen Jesus in action. Therefore, they provided vivid confirmation of Jesus’ activities in their midst; many of those in Peter’s audience had been the recipients of His power, mercy and love; many of those in the crowd had, without a doubt, received healing from Jesus’ hand. Those who were asking for evidence of Jesus as the Messiah, what better evidence that Jesus’ unique life: born of a virgin, sinless before men, compassionate and loving, the one with power to heal the blind and lame, even with the power to raise the dead, with the power to “teach as no man taught before.” Jesus’ life is unlike any other, because only Jesus Christ was the incarnate Son of God, the Word of God made flesh. Besides this evince, we also have the one provided by those who Jesus healed.

Evidence number three: His Death. Peter said, (vv. 23-24) “This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” 

There is another evidence to confirm Jesus’ identity: his death. Unjustly accused and tried, Jesus was brutally executed on a cross, hung among thieves. The innocent, the suffering servant of God. “He was handed over by God’s deliberate plan and knowledge.”  Yet on the third day, “God raised him up freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.”

Again, there were many in Peter’s audience that could confirm such evidence, for they had also seen him. The gospel said that Jesus appeared to the women by the tomb, to the disciples, and according to 1 Corinthians 15, also appeared to “more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time.” Therefore, many in that crowd could had said: “I saw the Lord”, other “I ate with Him”, and others “I walked with Him.”

Evidence number four: The Evidence of His Disciples Transformation (v. 32)

Do you remember Peter on the night before Jesus was crucified? Confused, shaken, angry and when one woman recognized him as one who had been with Jesus, he denied it using bad words. When Jesus went to the cross, Peter, the one who was ready to die for Him a few chapters before, Peter “the Rock” was nowhere to be found. John 20 says that the risen Christ found Peter and the rest of the disciples together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders.

Yet, look at Peter now: bold, confident, willing to proclaim the gospel before all of Jerusalem. What had happened? He had been transformed by the power of resurrection and by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Peter and his fellow disciples had seen the evidence for themselves; they saw Jesus’ hands; they saw Jesus’ side and that made the difference in their lives. Now they are ready to serve Christ with boldness and power throughout their lives. Most of Jesus’ disciples gladly laid down their lives as martyrs for the cause of Christ. Only the most compelling evidence would justify such sacrifice. Verse 41 says that “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Three thousand believed without seeing; three thousand believed because of the evidence presented by Peter and the rest of the disciples.

In our own day, we live in a society more secular by the hour, where people want evidence to believe; in our day, we live in a very scientific minded society where people, as Thomas, want proof to believe because they have lost their faith, but at the same time these same people are hungry and eager to hear a message of hope. They are people who have not had a personal encounter with the risen Christ. I have concluded that many people who call themselves Agnostics or Atheist are simply people who are disappointed by the “evidence” they have been presented with. Remember, the most compelling evidence of who Jesus is, continues to be those men and women who have decided to follow him; continues to be the lives of those men and women who have dared to believe in Him without seeing. The most compelling evidence of Jesus resurrection continues to be the Church, the group of women and men who have been transformed and every week gather in His name.   

My brothers and sisters, we have the great privilege to be called The Risen People; we have the great privilege to be The Dwelling place of God; we have the great privilege to be Lamps were the light of God shines thru. By believing in Jesus’ resurrection, we have the privilege to be called Children of God, heirs of His promises and blessings; and as His children, we call to Him and He answers us and tell us great and unsearchable things we do not know. Jesus my brothers and sisters has given us the power of resurrection. But with great power -as Spiderman reminds us- comes great responsibility; with a great privilege, there is also great responsibility. Our responsibility is: to be the evidence people will see and believe. Thomas said: “Unless I see the nails marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Remember, we are Jesus’ hands; people must see in us the marks of our transformation; they must see convincing proofs of God’s love reigning in our lives.

Brothers and sisters because we are His body, we are Jesus’ side also. When the soldiers pierced His body, His side, it was to make sure He was dead. People need to see in us that we have died to sin; that we have died to our old creature, to our old habits, that God in Jesus has created in us a new creature. My sisters and brothers let us live in such a way, that those who know us, but don’t know God, will come to know God, because they know us. We are the most compelling evidence that Jesus is real, alive and working here and now.

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