What can the preaching of the Apostles teach us about preaching Jesus? Do Christians today have an adequate understanding of what it is to live in the last days? We asked Art Azurdia…Listen to sermon (Acts 2:14-36):
Is there anything tricky in preparing for and preaching a text that is in a sermon itself?
Yes, I had never preached this before. One of the things I was bound and determined to do was preach the sermon in one fell swoop. I think it’s safe to say that what we find in Acts is probably a summary, rather than a word-for-word account, as Luke states later that with many other words, Peter appealed to this people. So while it is probably not the entire sermon of Peter, I still wanted people to feel its movement – the ebb and flow – all at once. This means that I could not explore all of the theological depths of this text, otherwise we would have spent four weeks looking at the sermon.
Do you think the common Christian has an understanding of what it is to be in the last days between the first and second coming, between Pentecost and judgment?
No, my guess is that the vast majority of people don’t have any idea that we are in the last days. They are waiting for the last days to get here, which they think will perhaps be triggered by the rapture of the Church or some other event. I don’t think they understand Pentecost as the fulfillment of God’s Old Testament promises, because they have not been taught any biblical theology or how our entire Bibles fit together. We’re suffering from a bigger problem of seeing the Bible as little moral pieces that help us get through life right now, rather than appreciating the full biblical storyline. Thus, people don’t see that we are indeed in the last days, that the Spirit has been poured out, and that judgment is imminent.
Hard to not notice how Peter sees all of these Old Testament texts coming together in Christ…
And in my mind, that’s one of the huge values of the book of Acts, to be able to watch how and learn from the way the Apostles use the Old Testament Scriptures. We know they learned it from Jesus, as that’s what Luke 24 is all about. So you get to the end of Luke 24 and you say, “Boy, I wish I could have been there, to see how Jesus explained how all of the Old Testament points to him.” But we don’t need to have been there, because we have the second volume of Luke’s work, wherein the Apostles show us by their preaching how they used the Scriptures. I’m thankful for these passages, because they give us living illustrations of how to see Christ in the Old Testament. While we may not have a methodology like we would get in Sidney Greidanus’ book (Preaching Christ from the Old Testament), we certainly have illustrations from which we can work backward and learn.