Paul stood up, paused and took a deep breath, then said, "Fellow Israelites and friends of God, listen.
God took a special interest in our ancestors, pulled our people who were beaten down in Egyptian exile to their feet, and led them out of there in grand style.
He took good care of them for nearly forty years in that godforsaken wilderness
and then, having wiped out seven enemies who stood in the way, gave them the land of Canaan for their very own -
a span in all of about four hundred fifty years.
But then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, out of the tribe of Benjamin. After Saul had ruled forty years,
God removed him from office and put King David in his place, with this commendation: 'I've searched the land and found this David, son of Jesse. He's a man whose heart beats to my heart, a man who will do what I tell him.'
"From out of David's descendants God produced a Savior for Israel, Jesus, exactly as he promised -
but only after John had thoroughly alerted the people to his arrival by preparing them for a total life-change.
As John was finishing up his work, he said, 'Did you think I was the One? No, I'm not the One. But the One you've been waiting for all these years is just around the corner, about to appear. And I'm about to disappear.'
"Dear brothers and sisters, children of Abraham, and friends of God, this message of salvation has been precisely targeted to you.
The citizens and rulers in Jerusalem didn't recognize who he was and condemned him to death.
They couldn't find a good reason, but demanded that Pilate execute him anyway.
They did just what the prophets said they would do, but had no idea they were following to the letter the script of the prophets, even though those same prophets are read every Sabbath in their meeting places.
And then God raised him from death.
There is no disputing that - he appeared over and over again many times and places to those who had known him well in the Galilean years, and these same people continue to give witness that he is alive.
"And we're here today bringing you good news: the Message that what God promised the fathers
has come true for the children - for us! He raised Jesus, exactly as described in the second Psalm: My Son! My very own Son! Today I celebrate you!
"When he raised him from the dead, he did it for good - no going back to that rot and decay for him. That's why Isaiah said, 'I'll give to all of you David's guaranteed blessings.'
So also the psalmist's prayer: 'You'll never let your Holy One see death's rot and decay.'
"David, of course, having completed the work God set out for him, has been in the grave, dust and ashes, a long time now.
But the One God raised up - no dust and ashes for him!
I want you to know, my very dear friends, that it is on account of this resurrected Jesus that the forgiveness of your sins can be promised.
He accomplishes, in those who believe, everything that the Law of Moses could never make good on. But everyone who believes in this raised-up Jesus is declared good and right and whole before God.
"Don't take this lightly. You don't want the prophet's sermon to describe you:
Watch out, cynics; Look hard - watch your world fall to pieces. I'm doing something right before your eyes That you won't believe, though it's staring you in the face."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)