Three Definitive Descriptions

By Mac Deaver

In Peter’s sermon on Pentecost of Acts 2, we find three descriptions that are worthy of much thought. In his great sermon Peter describes for us Jesus and then David. Next, he gives us David’s own description of Jesus. It would be good for us all to ponder well the facts presented.

How Peter described Jesus. Regarding Jesus, Peter says that he was “of Nazareth” (v. 22). In harmony with what the prophets had long ago predicted, “he should be called a Nazarene” (Matt. 2:23). The reputation of one from that town evidently was not so good (John 1:46). Thus, Jesus was born in a manger, lived in humble economic situation, and grew up in a town with a bad reputation. From a merely human point of view, his start on earth did not look all that promising. Peter says that Jesus was “a man approved of God” (v. 22). God approved him by empowering him with miracle working ability. Peter calls on his audience to reflect on the fact that “mighty works and wonders and signs” were done in their midst, and they knew it was so. Then, Peter declares that Jesus was “delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” and that the Jews “by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay” (v. 23). Christ’s death was according to God’s grand divine plan. His marvelous will was worked out at the cross. The evil Jews were being utilized by God to bring about a result that they did not comprehend. God’s will was predetermined and his knowledge of what would happen was set. He used the free will of man to accomplish the deed at the cross. And the men who crucified Jesus were lawless. But then, Peter announces the wonderful truth that God raised Jesus from the dead (v. 24). In fact, he affirms that it was impossible for Christ to remain dead. He then provides a quotation from a prophecy long ago made by David regarding the resurrection of Jesus (vv. 25-28). Later he points out that Jesus has now been exalted by God’s right hand, and that he had received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, which he had now poured forth on the apostles, the evidence of which was discernable by the audience (v. 33). He claims that Jesus is now sitting on David’s throne (vv. 30, 33) and that God has now made him “both Lord and Christ,” the very man that the Jews had earlier crucified (v. 36).

How Peter described David. Having provided the prophecy that David had earlier made from Psalm 16, he then states that David was a patriarch (father-ruler) and a prophet (vv. 29, 30). Regarding his death, Peter said that David died, was buried, and his tomb still existed (v. 29). God had sworn to David that he would raise one of David’s descendants to sit on David’s throne (v. 30). Jesus was “of the fruit of his loins.” Of course, this involved the profundity of the incarnation (John 1:14). Jesus’ mother was a descendant of David (Luke 3:31). Jesus’ legal earthly father also was a descendant of David (Matt. 1:6, 20). And, thus, long ago David predicted that God would not leave Jesus’ soul in Hades nor allow his flesh to see corruption. Though long dead, David had not yet ascended into heaven (v. 34). His soul remained in Hades, and his flesh had already seen corruption.

How David described Jesus. Peter quotes David who refers to Jesus as “thy Holy One” (v. 27). That is, Jesus was the Father’s Holy One. According to the flesh, Jesus was a descendant of David or “of the fruit of his loins” (v. 30). David predicted that God would in time set one of David’s descendants upon David’s throne (v. 30; cf. 2 Sam. 7:12-16), and this placement on David’s throne would follow the Lord’s being raised from the dead (vv. 30-31). Interestingly, all the other kings in Israel served as kings prior to their deaths, of course. But, Jesus’ kingship would take place after his death via the resurrection! This strange fact also indicates the change in the nature of the kingdom over which he would rule. The throne upon which he sat was still “David’s,” but it was now to be viewed as a purely spiritual throne at the right hand of God (vv. 30, 33). When God had Nathan inform David that his throne would be established forever, God was referring to a spiritual kingdom and to a spiritual throne (2 Sam. 7). The one now sitting on David’s throne is David’s Lord. “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet” (vv. 34-35). That is, the Father said these words to the Son (Jesus Christ). David’s son was David’s Lord. Jesus was David’s son and Lord. The divinity of Christ was mixed with the humanity of David’s lineage, and made it possible for Jesus to be both the son of man and the son of God. During his ministry, Jesus had once posed a question to some Pharisees as to the sonship of Christ, and he quoted David’s statement that Peter later quoted on Pentecost (Matt. 22:41-44; Acts 2:34). Indeed, Christ was both David’s son and David’s Lord!