A keystone is the wedge-shaped stone piece at the apex of a masonry vault or arch, which is the final piece placed during construction and locks all the stones into position, allowing the arch to bear weight.
The leaders who opposed Jesus were trying to hold their religion together while rejecting the central figure of the old testament. Nothing in the old testament makes sense without Jesus Christ. As Peter said, All the prophets from Moses foretold the coming of the Christ who must suffer and rise to bring forgiveness and life to otherwise un-saveable people.
Peter and John now tell them that this Jesus, whom they condemned, God did not condemn – God had raised Jesus from the dead. This fact means that Jesus had no sin of his own – no sin at all. He alone of all human beings was without sin. That’s what resurrection means – it mean a dead person receives life again — an endless life — and it only happens to people without sin.
You might see here one very good reason why Salvation is by Jesus Christ alone. Jesus is alone without personal sin.
But why then, how then, could Jesus have died, since he was personally sinless?
Peter had previously told people in the temple that the death of Jesus brings forgiveness of sin to those who trust themselves to him. The temple was the place where the Israelites were taught that sinners may be forgiven by the death of an acceptable substitute – this truth was illustrated by the death of lambs, bulls, goats, pigeons in the place of sinful Israelites. Israelites would bring the animal, place their hands on the head of the animal (to represent a transfer of sin from the sinner to the animal) and then the animal was killed instead of the sinner. The sinner went home alive.
The deaths of these animals were symbolic – like the Lord ’s Supper is symbolic today. These sacrifices did nothing in themselves, but they pointed people to the coming saviour. While they were useful to teach the message of substitution, the animals themselves were not effective in taking away sin – only the death of a truly good human would do. As Peter said in Chapter 3, the Christ had to suffer, as all the Old Testament prophets said.
Jesus death was possible only because he was bearing the sins of other people – sinners like us.
But how can a mere man fix the sins for others in a real and effective way? Ezekiel 14:14-20 tells us that if Daniel, Job and Noah – each in their own way foreshadowed Christ – were present, they could not give us their righteousness, nor could we give them our sins – each person will die for his own sin.
The Bible’s answer is that Jesus Christ, though a true human being, is not merely a human. He is God too.
The message of the angel to the Shepherds was that the Saviour, Christ the Lord, is born in Bethlehem. Jesus is the LORD, the Creator God. Matthew 1:21 tells us that Joseph was to call the baby, Jesus, for He (the baby) will save His people from their sins. Jesus means the LORD saves. Jesus is the LORD.
- Because Jesus is really human, he could die as a human being. But because Jesus is really good, he could die if and only if our sins were regarded as his – reckoned to his account.
- Because Jesus is really God, his actions, his death and resurrection can be applied to sinners like us.
He bore our sins in his own body on the cross. He died as the substitute for condemned sinners like us. By his death he took the condemnation due to sinners like us.
Anyone who trusts Jesus Christ is regarded by God as having already died for their sin – there is no longer any sin attributed by God to those who trust Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus each one who trusts him is regarded as now being without sin.
- Because Jesus is sinless, he was raised from the dead never to die again. Remember, only sinless people are resurrected to everlasting life.
- Because God regards those who trust Jesus as sinless, God will raise them to everlasting life as well.
These truths about Jesus are why Peter and John could go on to say of Jesus of Nazareth:
‘There is salvation in no other ; for there is no other name given to men under heaven by which we must be saved.’
This means that there is no one else like (Greek: allos) Jesus who can save, only Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and that there is no one different from (Greek: heteros) Jesus who can save, only Jesus Christ of Nazareth can and does save.
Peter says there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved.
- We need saving – our situation is desperate. There is a resurrection to everlasting punishment.
- The rescue comes only on the basis of who Jesus is and what he has done.
- If we are to be safe, we must share in that rescue that Jesus of Nazareth supplies. He has won it by his death and resurrection and he offers it to sinners.
- We are simply to trust Jesus Christ — that he was done all that is necessary for our eternal safety.
Reject Jesus at your peril. Receive him and you have forgiveness and everlasting life. Jesus himself guarantees it.