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Easter Sunday
April 12, 2009
Acts 2:24
It Was Impossible for Death to Hold Him
Acts 2:22-24 (ESV)
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know- [23] this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. [24] God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.


1. On Friday we were in Acts 2:23 and we looked at the statement made by the Apostle Peter that Jesus
death was a matter of the definite plan and foreknowledge of God. We are going to stay in that sermon this sermon and consider just one comment that Peter made about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

2. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was not an incidental thing to the early church. It was the
focus of their preaching when they gave the Gospel to people.
Acts 2:25-36 (ESV)
For David says concerning him,
” ‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
[26] therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
[27] For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
[28] You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’
[29] “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. [30] Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, [31] he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. [32] This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. [33] Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. [34] For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
” ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
[35] until I make your enemies your footstool.’
[36] Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Acts 3:14-16 (ESV)
But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, [15] and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. [16] And his name-by faith in his name-has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

Acts 4:8-11 (ESV)
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, [9] if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, [10] let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead-by him this man is standing before you well. [11] This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.

Acts 5:30-32 (ESV)
The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. [31] God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. [32] And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Acts 10:39-40 (ESV)
And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, [40] but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear,

Acts 13:28-31 (ESV)
And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. [29] And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. [30] But God raised him from the dead, [31] and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.

Acts 17:1-3 (ESV)
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apol lonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. [2] And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, [3] explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”

Acts 17:30-31 (ESV)
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, [31] because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

1 Cor. 15:1-4 (ESV)
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, [2] and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain. [3] For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

3. And it would be a mistake to assume that in the days of the early church people were so primitive and
superstitious that they would easily believe such a thing. See Acts 17:32
Acts 17:32 (ESV) – Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.”
Someone rising from the dead was no more believable for some in the ancient world than it is today. We tend to think that the task for us is different than it was for the early Christians because they were dealing with as simple, primitive, ignorant people and today we know so much more and people are better educated and more sophisticated that it is harder for us to convince people of the claims of the Gospel. We need to focus on other things. But that is simply not true. It is not true that the ancients were ignorant and unsophisticated and it is not true that we are more so. To claim that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh and that He paid the penalty for sin and rose form the dead and now reigns in heaven and invites people to be saved and the Holy Spirit gives new life so that people can believe and … and … , are fantastic things. They have always been – but we cannot alter them or omit them if we are to give the Gospel that saves people from sin.

4. Dear people:
a. All that exists belongs to do for God made everything. He made all that exists including you.
You are made in the image of God and your purpose is to be for the praise of His glory. That is what you are made for and to not do what you were created for is to be a square peg in a round hole. It just ain’t right.
b. Living for yourself and not the praise of God’s glory is sin. It is stupid and harmful and most of
all – rebellion against the One who created you for better things.
c. The wages of sin is death. Sin is not the small insignificant thing we think it is. It is war against
God – and God will not lose that war. The soul that sins shall die.
d. Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. He is God in the flesh.
e. He left the glories of heaven and Came to this world, born of a virgin.
f. He was tempted to sin yet He never gave into any of the temptations that assaulted Him. He lived
a sinlessly perfect life.
g. He came to earth as part of a plan to save a vast multitude of people from their sins by dying as a
substitute for them. He bore the punishment that they deserved to bear. He was forsaken by God on the cross as punishment for sins that He never committed. He died because of sin that was not His.
h. But He did not stay dead. He rose from the dead and God has exalted Him as the reigning King
over all things. His resurrection is His victory over the results of sin in the world – death.
i. Only through Jesus Christ can you have the forgiveness of your sins and the victory over the
consequences of sin. Jesus’ death and resurrection was done for others. When you put your faith in Jesus Christ God counts the righteousness of Jesus Christ as your righteousness. When you put your faith in Jesus Christ God counts the penalty He paid for sin as if you had paid it. And since you are credited with having paid the penalty then you will not have to pay it again. Jesus did it for you.
j. That marvelous benefit is for all who will trust in Jesus Christ and not trust themselves. It is
ONLY for those who will not trust themselves and trust in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ rose from the dead as the first of many who will do the same thing. When you put your faith in Him you are guaranteed to one day rise from the dead and live with Jesus Christ eternally.
k. Come to Him and know Him, know the purpose you were made, know real joy because you are
now right with God, know eternal life.

THAT is what the life, death on the cross and resurrection from the dead by Jesus Christ, is about.


1. God raised Him up
a. This comment is made in contrast to what Peter has pointed out that his listeners had done -“You
crucified Him – BUT GOD raised Him up – see this in 3:14f; 4:10; 5:30f.
i. Human beings are not on a quest for God. They are on a quest to do away with God.
There may be a God shaped vacuum in the hearts of all men, but the one thing they do not want is for the real sovereign Creator God who calls them to account and without whom they can do nothing, to be the One to fill that vacuum.

ii. The Gospel is “God triumphs over sin”. We kill God – but God raises up. We live lives of
death and destruction – God gives life and restoration. We … but God ….

iii. This is a Trinitarian statement – John 10:17f – Jesus raises Himself; Romans 8:11 – Jesus
is raised by the Holy Spirit;

2. loosing the pangs of death
a. Continue the contrast
i. We put God to death – in our thoughts, in our ambitions, in our self centered living …
BUT GOD – loosens the pangs of death. God overcomes the work of our hands. We produce death and destruction. This is what the world is a testimony to. We produce war and hunger and death … BUT GOD … .
b. He does the impossible –

c. Does this mean that the death of Christ is not enough?
i. Paul is plain that if there is no resurrection then our faith is futile –
1 Cor. 15:14-18 (ESV) – And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. [15] We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. [16] For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. [17] And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. [18] Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
ii. The death and resurrection cannot be separated – there can be no salvation if our sins are
not punished and borne by Christ. If the chastisement that was due us is not taken by Christ for us then we will have to bear it ourselves. That is what the Gospel is about. But also, if Jesus does not rise from the dead then it means that He did not defeat death for us.
d. Death pangs – Psalm 18:4-6; 116:3; II Sam. 22:6

3. it was not possible for Him to be held by it
a. Death was never even in the race. Why? Why was it impossible for death to hold Him?

b. Because of the plan – the death of Christ does not defeat the plan that God had – it is a part of it.
This is what we saw on Friday. Death does not come in and thwart what God is trying to do. The death is God’s idea. Death cannot thwart anything here – death was an original part of the equation. The resurrection is just as much of the plan mentioned in verse 23 as the death is.
i. See Matthew 16:21-23 – To try to stop God from doing what Jesus came to do would be
to do Satan’s work.
ii. See John 10:17 – he dies IN ORDER to rise …
iii. See the OT Scriptures –
(1) In fact, hear Jesus’ comment to the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus in Luke
24. Just in case some of you are unfamiliar with this account of Jesus … we read from verse 13-24… THEN see verse 25 “O foolish ones…” Jesus has died and there are rumours that He is now alive and these two disciples don’t know what to make of it – so Jesus calls them fools- Well there He is – gentle Jesus meek and mild – Dear Christian, what would Jesus say to you about your ability to defend the death and resurrection of Jesus from the OLD Testament? Could you do it? Could you do it from the New? You should be able to if you have been a believer for more than a year. These men are all the more fools because Jesus has been telling them of His impending death AND resurrection for years – Mt. 16:21.
(2) Psalm 2:7 & Acts 13:33
Psalm 2:7 (ESV) – I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.
Acts 13:33 (ESV) this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, ” ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’

(3) Psalm 16:9f & Acts 13:35
Psalm 16:9-10 (ESV) – Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. [10] For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.
Acts 13:35 (ESV) Therefore he says also in another psalm, ” ‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’

(4) Isaiah 53:11-12
Isaiah 53:11-12 (ESV)
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
[12] Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

(5) I Cor. 15:1-4 –
1 Cor. 15:1-4 (ESV) – Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, [2] and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain. [3] For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

The OT Scriptures tell us about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – THIS is why it was impossible for death to hold Jesus.

c. Because of Who Jesus is.
i. It is not possible for HIM to be held by it.

d. To be held by it – to be conquered. Death is so final isn’t it. How many of us have done vigil at the bedside of a loved one and when their life ended we stopped. See David who stopped praying when his son died because its all over then. Death is the end of life. It is final.

4. Applications
a. This is our King – He whom death could not defeat. He who put Himself at death’s disposal and
made death think that it had won so that He could defeat it once and for all.
b. But note this well dear ones – those who are in Christ are those of whom it is also true – it is
impossible for death to hold them. The resurrection of Jesus means that it is impossible for death to hold us.
i. We are in Christ. He is the first fruits -1 Cor. 15:20-23 (ESV) – But in fact Christ has been
raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. [21] For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
ii. I Peter 1:3 – The resurrection of Jesus insures that people can be born again. God the Holy
Spirit only gives new birth through the resurrection. This is not saying that you believe because of the resurrection. It does not say you repent because of he resurrection. It says that you are born again through the resurrection . The new birth is completely a work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit only gives the new birth to whoever He gives it to, because of the resurrection. There would be no new birth at all if ot for the resurrection.
iii. Salvation is a resurrection to new life because of the resurrection of Christ form the dead – Eph. 2:5f
c. Jesus resurrection is God’s statement that His wrath has been satisfied and there is now no
condemnation for all those for whom Jesus death and resurrection is counted as theirs.
John 11:25-26 (ESV) – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, [26] and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”