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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 6 - Acts 2:36-38 - The Cross, the Crucifiers and the Crucified Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


This is part of the first sermon preached under the Christian dispensation. It was preached by Peter, who some seven weeks before had thrice denied the Lord; not by John the beloved disciple. It was preached in Jerusalem, not far from the spot where the Lord was crucified. It was preached to those who had slain Him. It was preached immediately after a remarkable outpouring of the Spirit, and by one full of the Spirit. It is strangely calm and unimpassioned; no exaggerated description, no strong language, no sensation. It is a simple narrative about Jesus. He who spoke it manifestly trusted to some power beyond his own to give effect to it; to something in the simple facts themselves to work the end desired. He spoke as a witness and a reprover; not as an orator or a logician. Yet, as for its simplicity, so for its effects, it is one of the most marvelous sermons ever preached. A child could understand it; yet three thousand men were overwhelmed by it. It is a true specimen of preaching or speaking in the Holy Ghost. Such should our preaching be. This would keep us "abreast of the age"; this would meet the infidel and confound him; this would be better than eloquence or science, or the enticing words of man's wisdom. This would do the work of God.

The three verses which we have read bring before us (1) the crucified one; (2) the crucifiers; (3) the connection between the latter and the former, both for evil and good.

I. The crucified one. Let us note concerning this,

(1.) Who He was,—"that same Jesus"; yes Jesus of Nazareth; He who was born at Bethlehem; who went about doing and speaking only good.

(2.) What was done to Him. He was betrayed, tried, condemned, crucified, slain. All hatred was displayed to Him; all shame poured upon Him; the vilest and most terrible of deaths was inflicted on Him.

(3.) By whom was this done. By "His own"; by "Israel," the house of Israel,—the Jews of Jerusalem. Not by Romans or Gentiles; but Jews; by them who ought to have been foremost to welcome Him.

(4.) What God has made Him,—"both Lord and Christ." The stone which the builders rejected has been made the head of the corner. "Both Lord and Christ"! All that the prophets predicted concerning the seed of the woman; all that Israel was expecting; all that could be comprehended, of power, and dignity, and authority, and glory, and excellency, in these two names, are given by God to this same Jesus. Whatever man may think of Him, God's thoughts of Him are of the highest kind. Whatever Israel may do to Him to shew hatred and contempt, God treats Him as infinitely worthy of all honour in earth and heaven.

II. The crucifiers. They were, as we have seen, "the house of Israel"; but this is not the point to which I ask your attention here. They are accused of an awful crime. They had deliberately united to crucify.

(1.) An innocent man. One who had done nothing amiss; one against whom no charge was substantiated; one whom their own law would have acquitted of having done anything worthy of death.

(2.) A good man. A bad man may be, in respect of certain charges, quite innocent; but this man was more; He was righteous, and He was good; He had said and done nothing but what was good all His life. His had been a life of pure and holy love.

(3.) A prophet. One of their own rulers had confessed Him as a teacher sent from God; and his whole life proclaimed Him a prophet, greater in word and deed than any of their ancient ones.

(4.) The Lord of glory. The Son of God in the truest sense of the expression; Son of the Highest; equal with God; truly divine.

(5.) Their own Messiah. The very Christ whom their prophets predicted; whom they and their fathers had been expecting,—their King and Lord.

They were thus not merely murderers, but no ordinary ones; criminals in the highest and darkest sense; their hands red with innocent blood; the blood of their own Messiah ; the blood of God.

III. The connection between the crucified and the crucifiers for evil amid for good.

(1.) For evil. For condemnation. It was this that they felt so awfully when the apostle had stated the simple facts. (1) They were pricked in their hearts; (2) they cried out, What shall we do? A full sense of their awful criminality flashed through them. They were murderers; the worst murderers the world ever saw; the murderers of their Lord and Christ. Then indeed condemnation,—infinite condemnation was theirs. They had perhaps not actually nailed Him to the tree, but they had concurred in the deed. They were guilty of His blood; and they did not seek to deny it. So is every sinner a concurrent in this infinite murder. This is God's charge against us, "Ye slew my Son."

(2.) For good. This connection for evil might be disannulled, and a new one formed. An opportunity was to be given for disavowing their deed, and that disavowal was not only to disconnect them with all the evil they had incurred, but was to connect them with all the good which Messiah came to bring. They would then be treated by God as if they had welcomed Him from the first. Not only would they receive remission of sins, but also the gift of the Holy Ghost. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved; believe in Him and thou shalt receive the Spirit; and with Him all present and eternal blessing.