“Men of Israel, 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. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” Acts 2:22-23.
It must have been hard, living through the events of Holy Week and Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in particular, for the disciples of Jesus not to feel that events had spiralled out of Jesus’ control and that, whatever God’s purpose had been in sending Jesus into the world, it had now all gone horribly wrong. Yet in today’s verses that record Peter’s message to the crowds on the Day of Pentecost, just seven weeks after the crucifixion, Peter declares that, far from being a miscarrying of God’s plans, the death of Jesus on the cross was “by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge”.
What convinced Peter of that? The resurrection of Jesus, for a start, but now also the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And, indeed, by the time Peter comes to write his first epistle about 30 years later, he has developed his conviction even further: “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:18-20). Jesus is now seen as the sacrificial lamb chosen before the world began.
What does that imply? Surely, that even before God calls the world into being and makes man, he knows that man will fall and, accordingly, “up front” as we might put it, provides the remedy. Thus it is that in the Revelation of John the Seer, Jesus can rightly be called “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).
There has always been a cross in God’s eternity; a cross that entered our time and space as an earthly reality in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. There has always been a Saviour. What a thought!
Lord Jesus, while I was still a sinner … before I was even born … before even the world was born … you died for me! Thank you.