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"This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." NIV translation
Now, Peter gets personal with the crowd. In the first part of the verse, Peter let them know that God had a plan, even in the midst of the evil that was going on. He also pointed out that God was not surprised by any of the events. Sometimes, we need to step back and realize that God is bigger than we can imagine and He knows everything. Even in the darkest of times, like Peter described in the previous verses, God is in control and we can take comfort in the fact that He loves us. In the last part of this verse, Peter explains to the crowd that they took part in the crucifixion of Jesus. As Christians, we sometimes forget that we had a part in the crucifixion of our Lord just as the crowd that Peter is speaking to did. You see, Jesus went to that cross willingly and paid for all sin and that includes us as well as them.
"But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him." NIV translation
Have you ever had a problem, done something about it, thought that everything was all better and then found out that your solution had only made the problem worse? I know that I have been there and done that.
That is basically what Peter is telling this crowd of Jews now. In the last verse, he explained that they were to blame (and in fact we all are) for Jesus going to the cross. Now, he adds that the solution they came up with (the crucifixion of Jesus) did not work because "God raised him from the dead". That's really got to get their attention.
Peter tells the crowd that Jesus was freed from "the agony of death". Do we really understand what that means? My friends, many people take comfort in the false hope that, after they die, life is just over. We see hear that, even for Jesus when he died, life was just not over but he was gripped in "the agony of death". There may be some really terrible physical things that occur when a non-Christian dies but can you imagine the agony that Jesus felt? He was separated, for the first time, from his father and took the punishment for our sins. Separation from God, my friends, that is agony.
"David said about him: "I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."" NIV translation
Now, Peter goes back to the Old Testament and quotes part of Psalm 16 to the crowd. This is big in that he quoted King David. David understood that the Lord (this same Jesus that was crucified) was "always before me". When he said that the Lord was at his right hand, that was big. The right hand was considered a place of honor as well as a place of influence. Basically, David says that, since Jesus is with him, he will stand strong. We can also have that same assuredness and we can have it even more because of the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit, it is even better than at the right hand because we have the power of God living inside of us. The question for us is will we remain strong and influence the world around us?