The Apostle Peter Tells It Like It Is!
[Acts chapter 3, verses 16-26]
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Last week when we left off at Acts 3, verse 15, the apostles Peter and John had just healed a man who had been crippled from birth. This man was now walking along – and even jumping at times – with John and Peter as they went to the temple courts to show themselves to the priests and teachers of the Law. These were, as you now know, part of the same people who had handed Christ over to Pilate to be crucified just weeks earlier. So there they were, standing before the priests in the outer courts (there was only one high priest in the Inner Court), with the newly-healed man holding on to Peter and John to steady himself as a crowd gathered close behind them. Peter does most of the talking in this narrative by the apostle Luke as he continues to explain the man’s healing with the holy Scriptures. So let’s take up where we left off beginning at verse 16.
“By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. Now brothers, I know you all acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that all your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus.” (Acts 3, verses 16-20)
“By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong.” The main thing Peter is saying here is that he disavows himself of having anything to do with the formerly crippled man’s evidently miraculous healing. Faith in Jesus rather than in Peter and John’s abilities is what caused this healing to occur. In so doing, Peter set a fine example for all of us to follow, particularly those who aspire to be ministers. He took none of the credit for himself. “It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” Jesus lived his life with such power and might that his very name is all it takes for healing to occur, whether it be physical, mental or psychological, or for that matter a healing of souls, as only the Spirit of the Lord can do.
“Now brothers, I know you all acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer.” Right here in verse 17 we are witnesses that Christ’s final wish as he was crucified had been granted (“Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”), and it is Peter, a man who had denied ever knowing Christ three times, who is conveying this message of gracious forgiveness for their grievous sins to all the people! Moreover, I’d call arranging for Christ’s conviction on false charges, along with our Lord and Savior’s ensuing death sentence, to be as grievous of a sin as you can get! So the apostle Peter, himself being a man forgiven of grievous sin, is delivering this same message of forgiveness to all who will accept and embrace it.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that all your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus.” Turn away from all that you, and therefore we, have been doing. It’s time for all of us to grow up and turn away from our childish, trifling ways, and to stop being so selfish and greedy. Let us turn away from being materialistic, from insisting that we must be first, and of refusing to let go of past hurts and injustices, whether real or imagined. Being unable to let go of perceived hate, disrespect or fear of or from another stems from a refusal or inability to forgive that person. But as Peter said just above, how can we expect our own sins to be forgiven when we refuse to forgive others? The answer is, of course, we cannot – so why are so many people apparently ignoring this fact of life? They had better wake up before it’s too late; you know who you are. But take heart! Jesus Christ, who is God’s only Son, “has been appointed for you”. Jesus is like a court-appointed attorney, ready to defend us with all the vigor and spectacular performance we would expect from the Son of God. And now let’s finish up today’s study, starting at verse 21.
“He must remain in heaven until the time comes for him to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up a prophet like me from among your own people. You must do everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be cut off from his people.’ Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, foretold of these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on the earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” (Acts 3, verses 21-26)
“He must remain in heaven until the time comes for him to restore everything.” This is a clear reference to the Second Coming of Christ. While this has not occurred yet, we can all be sure this will occur in our lifetimes. I’m including myself in that statement, and I’m in my early 60’s as I write this. I would also like to add that there is a lot of pointless speculation about the timing of Christ’s return. I think that all the time taken up by speculating about Christ’s return could be better spent leading people to the Lord, or by buying a homeless family a large box of fried chicken. What the world needs is more people willing to put their faith into action. I know we can’t all be philanthropists, but for God’s sake, turn off your televisions and go do something positive! Never forget that the start of something really good always begins with just one person and an idea. “For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up a prophet like me from among your own people.’” Moses was obviously referring to Christ when he wrote that in Deuteronomy 18: 15.
“’You must do everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be cut off from his people.’ Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, foretold of these days.” On the surface of things, the apostle Peter was telling everyone there – which was likely dozens of people to possibly well over a hundred – that those who will not obey or believe in Christ will not receive the salvation Jesus promised by his Supreme Sacrifice. But this verse also tells us that the Biblical prophets of at least 1,000 years before had been foretelling of Christ’s coming, and that he would suffer and die as a ransom to be paid for the multitudes of humanity. And so Peter was saying that the many who had been parties to the public execution of Jesus Christ on Golgotha hill, at least a few of which were present with the others there, that their ignorance about the true identity of Christ was no excuse. Only by placing their/our complete faith in Christ can humanity be reconciled with God. As it was then, so it is today. Only a short time remains before Christ’s return, meaning there is even less time left before the rapture of the greater Church. As such, we no longer have any excuse for our own lack of understanding or belief, and so we are ultimately responsible for our own fate and our own salvation. Let everybody take note!!
“He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on the earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” As Peter addressed the crowd there at the temple with the apostle John and the formerly-crippled man, he was addressing them as Jewish men, since the majority of them were (I don’t know if the man who had been healed was Jewish or not, but it evidently made no difference to Peter). But through the apostle Paul, who was not converted to Christianity until his encounter on the Road to Damascus – which we will study in-depth when we get to chapter nine – the gospel was carried to the Gentile nations, but only after quite a lot of rejection that Paul encountered in his ministry. Peter and the rest preached to primarily Jewish audiences in Jewish synagogues. We don’t have time to go into the reasons why, as that would take us off course, and it would be time-consuming as well. Those who want to know more about this should start by reading the Book of Hebrews in the New Testament.
“When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you….” “Raised up his servant”, once again, refers to the risen Christ. He was sent first to appear to the apostles in Luke chapter 22, but it was Peter who first went to the tomb to verify what he heard from the women who had found the tomb empty. Peter had been the first of the Eleven to see the empty tomb, and this was the source of his confidence – not in himself, but the complete faith he had placed in Christ to be his Savior and risen Lord – as he spoke. But Peter’s confidence was supernatural, and so was John’s quiet confidence as he stood by while continuing allowed the healed man to continue steadying himself. After all, the poor guy had been crippled from birth, so it’s no wonder that he still needed a little assistance. I would too! Next week as we move on to chapter four, Peter’s first ‘sermon’ continues as he continues to build his case for salvation in Christ. Everyone have a blessed week….