Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
I hear people speak of a Jesus who is trying his best to save everyone, for it is contrary to his will for anyone to perish. They say their Jesus died vicariously for everyone, dying in their place and stead the death they all deserve, thereby making it possible for them all to live and never die. They say their Jesus paid the price of redemption for everyone. But they admit that hell will be full of people who perish against his will and despite all his efforts to save them. And they aver that he cannot save any except those who of their own “freewill” permit and enable him to do so.
That futile and ineffectual Jesus is what ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ call “another Jesus whom we have not preached” (2 Corinthians 11:4). The message regarding that Jesus is called by Jesus’ ministers “a different gospel” invented by “some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6f). When I hear people speak of such a futile and ineffectual Jesus, I conclude “Man has made that Jesus!”
But in God’s Holy Word I read of the Jesus whom God made, and of all the glorious things God made His Jesus to be. “God has made this Jesus” reads our present text. Let us here consider some things “God has made this Jesus” to be.
I. God made this Jesus to be like His brethren and to be their High Priest (Hebrews 2:17): “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”
Jesus’ “brethren” are God’s adopted children. They are in need of a High Priest who can offer the sacrifice that will once for all obtain propitiation for them. That High Priest must be “taken from among men” and “appointed [by God] for men” (Hebrews 5:1). That is, He must be of the same human nature as his brethren and appointed by God to be their High Priest. In order that the High Priest might make propitiation once for all for his brethren, he must be sinlessly perfect. All the Aaronic High Priests of Israel were of the same nature as their brethren and appointed by God. But none of them was sinlessly perfect. Therefore, they were unable to make propitiation once for all for God’s children.
So God appointed His only begotten and sinlessly perfect Son to be the High Priest of His children, and gave them to Him for safe-keeping. In order that Christ may be a “merciful [to men] and faithful [to God] High Priest”, He was by God “made like His brethren”. “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (vv.14f). “Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘... a body You have prepared for Me.’”
This Jesus made by God to be the High Priest of His brethren has indeed succeeded in His High Priestly ministry (Hebrews 10:11-14): “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
II. God made this Jesus to be sin for His people (2 Corinthians 5:21): “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us ....”
God made His Jesus to be sin itself – that which is in this same text the antithesis of righteousness itself! Righteousness is what God’s elect become because of their relationship with Christ; sin is what Christ was made to be because of His relationship with God’s elect. All the sins of God’s elect were gathered together into one load, and that load of sin was by God “laid on Him” (not merely imputed to Him), so that “He bore the sin of many” in such a way as to be identified as one mass of sin (Isaiah 53:6, 12).
God made this Jesus to be sin for His people for a specific purpose: “that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” The Greek verb here translated “become” (ginomai) is not the same as that formerly translated “made” (poieo). The sense therefore is not that something merely happens to us for whom Jesus was made sin, but rather that in Him we are actually brought into an existence as something new (v.17): “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away [Greek parerchomai / “perished”]; behold, all things have become [Greek ginomai] new.” And this new creation in Christ bears His name: “Jehovah Our Righteousness” (cp. Jeremiah 23:6 with 33:16).
III. God made this Jesus to be a sin offering for His people (Isaiah 53:10f): “When You make His soul an offering for sin ....” (We are aware of the discussion regarding the proper English translation of the Hebrew text: Here the prophet speaks of Jehovah making Messiah to be an offering for sin; others say Jehovah speaks of Messiah making His own soul an offering for sin. Whichever, the Father and the Son are one, and neither acts independently of the other.)
Christ has indeed been made a sin offering for His people: “God ... loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [i.e., atoning sacrifice] for our sins” (1 John 4:10); “He ... did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). Therefore, the necessary results have occurred:
First, “He shall see His seed.” Jesus’ “seed” are God’s children. Jesus will “see” them, for “A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation. They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this” (Psalm 22:30f).
Second, “He shall prolong His days.” Christ therefore assures all for whom He was the sin offering, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen” (Revelation 1:18). He will see His seed forever, for Jehovah promises that “His seed also I will make to endure forever” (Psalm 89:29).
Third, “and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.” It is Jehovah’s pleasure that His people be saved. Jesus will prosper Jehovah’s pleasure by saving every one of His people (Matthew 1:21).
Fourth, “He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.” Jesus will have no stillborn children! He travailed as a woman in childbirth for the salvation of God’s children, and shall see every one of them brought to spiritual life. Furthermore, none of them will perish after their new birth, for Jesus gives to them eternal life and securely keeps them (John 17:1-4).
Fifth, “By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.” The “many” whom Jesus justifies are the “many” transgressors whose sins He bore and for whom He made intercession for salvation (v.12). Every one for whom Jesus died will be justified, and no iniquity or transgression or sin will ever be charged to them. If God made this Jesus to be your sin offering, He will declare you to be “a just man, perfect” (as was Noah in Genesis 6:9), “blameless and upright” (as in Job 1:1, 8; 2:3). God will never impute sin to you (Psalm 32:1f / Romans 4:8), nor ever behold iniquity in you (Numbers 23:21).
You are among these blessed ones if you rightly answer the first questions of this chapter: “Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”
IV. God made this Jesus to be both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36): “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
They err who say “I made Jesus my Lord!” Men made Him to be the worst sort of criminal, the “Stone which was rejected” as reprobate (Acts 4:11), and publicly accursed (Galatians 3:13).
But “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord [Master of All] and Christ [Anointed Son of God].” In so doing, God did not make Jesus to be what He previously was not, for Jesus was Lord and Christ prior to His crucifixion. Even from His conception He was “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
The meaning in Acts 2:36 is that God made this Jesus whom men made accursed to be both Lord and Christ in the eyes of those who had rejected and crucified Him. They thereby realized that in crucifying this “Jesus of Nazareth” they had murdered their Lord and Jehovah’s Anointed Son (see vv.22-35; cp. 5:30).
Nothing they could do against this Jesus could undo what God made Him to be. First: “God has made this Jesus” to be like His brethren and to be their High Priest, and to make propitiation for all for whom He ministered. Second: “God has made this Jesus” to be made sin, so that His people might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Third: “God has made this Jesus” to be the sin offering for His people, and all for whom He was sacrificed are saved and justified. Fourth: “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
“God has made this Jesus!” As for His futile rival, “Man has made that Jesus!” In whom will you trust for your salvation? – Daniel E. Parks (December 18, 2011)
Daniel E. Parks has ministered as an evangelist in the Caribbean for twenty-five years. He currently ministers to Sovereign Grace Baptist Church of Saint...