My son’s devotional thoughts awakened me to realize the hearts of those ancient Jews on Pentecost were in more turmoil when they heard Peter than I had previously acknowledged. Although it lay in full view, I had overlooked an important detail. I suspect I am not alone.
If we outline Peter’s message beginning with Acts 2:23, it all seems rather straightforward. Peter accused the crowd of killing Jesus. And yet, God was clearly in control, since he both planned for this to happen as well as did the unimaginable. God raised Jesus from the dead.
To prove both God’s plan and power to raise Christ, Peter then quoted David from Psalm 16. Exercising a little logic, Peter concluded that David had foreseen the Messiah’s resurrection!
To solidify his point and remove any lingering doubts regarding Jesus’ resurrection, Peter further quoted David as describing his Lord (the Messiah) being exalted and ascending to heaven to be at God’s right hand (Acts 2:34).
Peter’s subsequent conclusion is stark and sharp. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know beyond a doubt that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36 NET).
These words, following a mere fifty days after the Jewish chants of “crucify him, crucify him,” would have stung. They had crucified God’s Messiah.
We are told that their hearts were pricked in response to Peter’s message. The reason seems so simple. If you are a Jew who longed for the Messiah and have just discovered you are responsible for crucifying the very one you sought, such news would deliver a crushing blow.
While this is true, it appears this is not the complete picture. It overlooks one detail lying in full view.
To paraphrase Peter’s final quote from the Psalms, God would cause Christ to sit at his right hand while God destroyed Christ’s enemies under his feet (Psalm 110:1). For those who had just killed the Christ, this is foreboding and sobering news indeed!
All of a sudden, these God-fearing Jews realized that the very God they sought to serve would be defeating them under Christ’s feet. “Now when they heard this, they were acutely distressed and said to Peter …, ‘What shall we do, brothers?'” (Acts 2:37).
Psalm 110:1 was not written for them alone; it addresses all the enemies of Christ. Today there remains those who continue to reject the Messiah. Perhaps if more people who have dismissed the Messiah realized that God would actively work to subdue them under Christ’s feet, if they persist in refusing to repent, they would seek to flee the footstool.
How does someone flee from becoming a part of the Messiah’s footstool?
“Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).