The Cutting Room Floor: This Is What You’ve Been Waiting For
One of the greatest challenges for any preacher is deciding what not to say. Once we’ve taken the editor’s knife to our work, we’re left with a mess of material strewn about the cutting room floor. These posts are my way of sharing some of what couldn’t be said in Sunday morning’s sermon.
Today’s post follows our 3/8/2020 sermon on Acts 2:14-21 – “This is That: God’s Promise Fulfilled.” To listen, click here.
This past Sunday, we learned that Pentecost—the day when the Spirit descended in power to fill the disciples and miraculously enable them to declare the mighty works of God in foreign tongues—was the fulfillment of what Joel had spoken long ago:
“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;” (Acts 2:17; citing Joel 2:28-32).
This, we said, was the first point of Peter’s Pentecost sermon (say that five times fast). It trades on a form of interpretation known as pesher. As I explained on Sunday, pesher basically takes a historical event and explains it in light of Scripture’s teaching. In this case, the event is Pentecost, and the Scripture is Joel 2:28-32.
So far, so Sunday. But what I didn’t get to share with you this weekend was what Peter had to say about Jesus and the prophets in 1 Peter 1.
After a short greeting (vv. 1-3), Peter expands upon the “living hope” and “outcome of your faith” in Christ: “the salvation of your souls” (vv. 4-9). In v.10, he says that the prophets looked forward to the grace that was to come in Christ. They “searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (v. 11).
In other words, they tried with all their might to figure out who the coming Messiah would be, but they couldn’t quite crack the code.
As much as the prophets were allowed to see, God did not show them everything. The long-expected Messiah would only be revealed in the things that have now been announced to the people through messengers “who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven” (v. 12). We no longer need to search and inquire carefully, for the One of whom the prophets spoke has finally come. As we see in dramatic form on Pentecost, the same Spirit who inspired prophecy has enabled us to receive and declare the truth of His coming.
In Christ, Israel found everything it had been looking for since the days of Solomon—a true Son of David to sit upon the throne. In the ascension, Jesus took His seat at the right hand of the Father. By the power of the Holy Spirit, He is declaring His kingship through the Church.
In Christ, we, too, find the fulfillment of our souls’ deepest expectation. We may not have grown up looking for a Messiah the same way Israel did. But He is the One in whom all things hold together—the beginning, middle, and end of our very existence (Col 1:15-20; Rom 11:36). As God, He is the Maker and Lover of our souls. As man, He is that perfect image toward which we all strive.
Whether we knew it or not, He is the one our hearts have longed for since the day we were born.
Our friends, neighbors, and loved ones are longing to meet their Savior; they just don’t have the words to give voice to the deepest longing of their hearts. I pray this week that we would be so bold as to give them language to articulate their need and call upon Him for their salvation.