CHAPTER 1: 'Jesus, whom you crucified'

According" to" the writer of the book of Acts, devout Jews who were in Jerusalem on the Feast of Pentecost or Weeks, some six weeks after the crucifixion of Jesus, 'gathered in amazement around a group of their fellow Jews who were speaking so ecstatically about the great things which God had done that some people decided they were drunk. Their leader, Peter, turned to those who had gathered around and said, 'Listen to these words, fellow Israelites! Jesus of Nazareth was a man whose divine authority was clearly proved to you by all the miracles and wonders which God performed through him. You yourselves know this, for it happened here among you. In accordance with his own plan, God had already decided that Jesus would be handed over to you; and you killed him by letting sinful men crucify him. But God raised him from death, setting him free from its power, because it was impossible that death should hold him prisoner. ... God raised this very Jesus from death and we are all witnesses to this fact. ... All the people of Israel, then, are to know for sure that this Jesus, whom you crucified, is that one that God has made Lord and Messiah!' (Acts 2 :22-25, 32, 36).

The account then goes on to tell us that the people who heard this were troubled and they asked Peter and those with him what they ought to do. Peter replied, 'Each of you must turn away from his sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven; and you will receive God's gift, the Holy Spirit' (Acts 2: 38).

This account was written a number of years later by Luke, who was probably not a Jew and may have been a Syrian. He was writing his second book for the Gentile Theophilus, to record the origins of the new Christian faith which was spreading quickly. In the account of what happened on the Day of Pentecost, the memory of the first preaching about Jesus by his disciples is preserved.

Before Luke had undertaken to write an orderly account for Theophilus of what he knew about Jesus, his disciples and the fast spread of the new faith, another man, a Jew, had written this: 'But when the right time finally came, God sent his own Son. He came as the son of a human mother and lived under the Jewish Law, to redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might become God's sons. To show that you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who cries out, "Father, my Father”, (Galatians 4:4-6).

In such words, in this and other passages in his letters which he began to write about twenty years after the crucifixion of Jesus, the great Jewish missionary of the new faith, Paul, makes an amazing claim. He claims that God has made his final and decisive intervention in human history by sending his own Son into the world. The purpose of this intervention is that the human race might be reconciled with God so that they can know God as 'Father' and live in a new relationship with him as his children. This reconciliation has been brought about by this same Jesus whom Peter calls Lord and Messiah, and whom Paul calls God's own Son.