God’s Word for You
Acts 13:27-29 They fulfilled what was written
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, May 26, 2020
27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize him, but by condemning him, they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 And even though they found no grounds for a death sentence, they demanded that Pilate should condemn him to death. 29 They fulfilled all that was written about him. Then they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb.
The question one would like to ask of Jesus’ opponents is: If you don’t believe that Jesus was the Christ, but you are still expecting the Christ to come, what would you expect him to say and do that Jesus did not say or do? Would you expect him to agree with everything the Pharisees did? Or the Sadducees? Or the Herodians? Would you expect him to be like one of the Judges, another Gideon or Shamgar, striding through the streets of Jerusalem and slaying every sinner he found? Wouldn’t the streets run with rivers of blood? Would you expect him to be like the Essenes and the other hermit groups, living in the caves of the desert with secret storerooms of wealth and plans to make war on anyone who believes differently?
Or would you expect him to come and reign like the kings of old, like Solomon in all his wealth? But Solomon conscripted slaves and forced people to labor on his building projects that made the people complain that he put too heavy a yoke on them (1 Kings 12:4).
Wouldn’t they expect the Christ to come preaching about heaven? About religious reform? About the Word of God? Wouldn’t they expect the Christ to perform miracles, to heal people, and even to raise the dead? Which of these things did Jesus fail to do?
So Paul justly says: “The people and their rulers did not recognize him.” Even the men most familiar with the prophecies about the Christ, the Scribes, questioned Jesus thoroughly. They had every single question answered, and they even had their own sins exposed with love and with respect with a call to repent and be forgiven. But most people don’t like to have their lifestyles described as sins. They rage about it.
Paul shows that everyone should have recognized Jesus: He fulfilled the very Scriptures that they heard read in the synagogues, week after week on every Sabbath day.
Simply put, Jesus was exactly who he said he was, and for this they condemned him to death. And by doing so, they fulfilled what was written about him: “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth… He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken” (Isaiah 53:7-8).
In verse 29, we who are familiar with the Gospel account of Jesus’ suffering and death expect that there should be a change of subject, since the “they” of verses 27-28 and the “they” of verse 29 were in fact different: The Jews who hated Jesus on the one hand and some Jewish friends who loved Jesus on the other. But the leaders of the Jews who condemned him had intended that he would have a criminal’s death and a criminal’s burial, fulfilling Scripture yet again: “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth” (Isaiah 53:9).
This point would not be lost on Paul’s listeners here in Antioch. They would also remember Isaiah 53:10: “The Lord makes his life a guilt offering.” What was done to Jesus was sinful, it was criminal, and it was blasphemous. It was blasphemous because they raised their hands against the sinless Son of God for proclaiming the Word of his heavenly Father. It was criminal because he was innocent of any crime. It was sinful for both of these reasons, and because it was done to silence God’s holy Messiah. Yet which of us can say that he is without sin? In the middle of all of this courtroom flurry of accusation and defense there is one pure, towering and holy truth that covers over the guilt of mankind: Jesus allowed all of this to happen so that he would be the Guilt Offering to atone for the sins of mankind. As Isaiah also said: “The punishment that brought us peace was upon him” (Isaiah 53:5).
Whatever guilt gnaws at you, it is covered by the blood of Jesus. Set aside your sinful life, turn back to Jesus, and trust him. He has covered the stain of your sins, and he calls you to a life of repentance, joy, and peace in him. He offers the hope and the certainty of the resurrection to everlasting life, and the simple peace in this lifetime of knowing that we have a Savior who will never forsake us.
Pastor Timothy Smith