““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— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” (Acts 2:22–23, ESV)
There is an old expression, “hitting the nail on the head.” The expression is used in a variety of ways, but one is when someone addresses a situation with a correct and hard-hitting point. Such is the case with Peter in this sermon. After explaining the manifestation of the Spirit in the disciples speaking in foreign languages, he then explains to them that they had understood the great works of Jesus that God did through Him. He then hits them hard by telling them that they “crucified and killed” this righteous one of God, Jesus.
When many preach today, they often do the soft-shoe around the issue of sin. I have heard a well-known preacher state that he does not preach on tough things since his calling is to encourage and make people feel good. Unfortunately, we do a disservice to people when we fail to address sin.
Ray Comfort makes a point of this in his book, “The Way of the Master.” In it he speaks of using the Ten Commandments to get people’s attention when sharing the gospel. I remember setting up evangelistic cookouts in the inner-city parks of Savannah Georgia. At these cookouts, we would give hotdogs, chips and sodas to the teens in the summer. One day I had a group of teenage boys surround me and I began to talk to them about Jesus. I knew a lot of them for I had seen them at other cookouts.
This time I thought I would try Ray Comfort’s approach. So, I asked them if they thought they were good people. They said yes. Then I said, well, let me ask you some questions. Have you ever stolen anything? At first they said no, but when I pressed them they said yes. I asked them if they ever lied. They had. I asked other questions like this, and then concluded, the Bible says that you all have sinned. Because of this, when you die, you will spend eternity in hell.
Then they asked me a question. They asked have you ever lied? I stated that I had. They asked have you ever stolen anything? I stated that I had. Then they said, “Then you are going to hell too!” Then I told them “No, I’m not going to hell. I found a way to heaven. I don’t know what possessed me, but as soon as I said this, I began to walk away. As I turned away, they shouted out, “You can’t leave us now! Tell us what you found out!” At this, I presented the gospel to them and they listened. Many came to saving faith.
Imagine the conviction of Peter’s words in the introduction of this sermon, when he told the Jews in that they killed Jesus, the righteous one of God. This must have been “eye opening.” I believe that Peter had caught their attention. They were ready to listen to the gospel message. Now, obviously it was not Peter’s words alone that prompted their attention. Peter was God’s instrument to bring the word of truth to them. Yet the Holy Spirit was actively engaged convincing them of sin, righteousness, and judgment.
Remember this. When we preach the gospel, we should not avoid the difficult things. Yes, the gospel does bring us blessing, much blessing. However, people need to understand that there is a problem of sin and there is only one hope to be saved from sin and its penalty, Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.