Jesus calls us to join Him in HIS
JESUS as Described by
the Apostle Peter in Acts 3
Acts 3:11-26. While the beggar held on to Peter and John, cured but still clinging to them and not yet confident, all the people were astonished and came running to them, and assembled in the place called Solomon's Colonnade (11).
This was a cloister or portico (NEB), formed by a double row of marbled columns and roofed with cedar, which ran all the way along the eastern wall of the outer court. Jesus himself sometimes walked and taught in it (John 10:23).
Peter seized the opportunity to preach. Just as the Pentecost event had been the text for his first "Christian" sermon, so the cripple's healing became the text for his second. Both were mighty acts of the exalted Christ. Both were signs which proclaimed him Lord and Savior. Both aroused the crowd's amazement.
Peter began by ascribing all the credit to Jesus. Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? he asked (12), presumably pointing to the healed cripple. And Why do you stare at us, presumably making a gesture which pointed to themselves, as if it had been by our own power or goodness that we had made this man walk? (12). Instead, he redirected their gaze to JESUS, by whose powerful name the miracle had taken place.
For The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus (13a). Peter's designation of God expressed his conviction that what was new in Jesus nevertheless enjoyed a direct continuity with the Old Testament.
Then, in contrast to the honor that God had given to Jesus, Peter is outspoken in describing the fourfold dishonor which the inhabitants of Jerusalem had shown him: (i) You handed him over to be killed, and (ii) you disowned him before Pilate (as indeed Peter had himself "disowned" or "denied" him before a servant girl and others cf. Lk. 22:54-62), though he had decided to let him go (13b). (iii) You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you (14), thus demanding both the condemnation of the innocent and the acquittal of the guilty.
(iv) You killed the author of life, a striking oxymoron, in which the pioneer or giver of life (archegos could mean either) is himself deprived of life, but God, wonderfully reversing this fourfold rejection of Jesus, raised him from the dead, and of this mighty resurrection we (apostles) are witnesses (15).
So then, it is by faith in the name of Jesus, of the once rejected but now resurrected and reigning Jesus, that this crippled man whom you see and know was made strong. Peter goes on to repeat it for emphasis, this time separating the name and the faith which apprehends it. For it was Jesus' name (all he is and has done), together with the faith that comes through him, being aroused by him in those who grasp the implications of his name, which has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see (16).
The most remarkable feature of Peter's second sermon, as of his first, is its Christ-centeredness. He directed the crowd's attention away from both the healed cripple and the apostles to the Christ whom men disowned by killing him but God vindicated by raising him, and whose name, having been appropriated by faith, was strong enough to heal the man completely.
Moreover, in his testimony to Jesus, Peter attributed to him a cluster of significant titles. He began by calling him Jesus Christ of Nazareth (6), but went on to style him God's servant (13), who first suffered and then was glorified in fulfilment of Isaiah 52:13ff. (cf. 18 and 26; 4:27,30). Next he was the Holy and Righteousness One (14) and the author [or pioneer] of life (15), while in the concluding part of the sermon Peter called him the prophet foretold by Moses (22) and before the Sanhedrin the rejected stone which has become the capstone (4:11).
Servant and Christ, Holy One and source of life, Prophet and Stone -- these titles speak of the uniqueness of Jesus in his suffering and glory, his character and mission, his revelation and redemption. All this is encapsulated in his name and helps to explain its saving power.
Having exalted the name of Jesus, Peter ended his sermon by challenging his hearers (brothers, he calls them) with the necessity and the blessing of repentance, I know, he says, that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders (17). His purpose in saying this was neither to excuse their sin, nor to imply that forgiveness was unnecessary, but to show why it was possible.
Peter was echoing the Old Testament distinction between
sins of ignorance and sins of presumption (e.g. Numbers 15:27ff.; and cf. Luke 23:34; 1 Corinthians 2:8; 1 Timothy 1:13). Next, although they did not know what they were doing, God knew what they were doing. For what happened to Jesus was the fulfilment of prophecy, for this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, especially that his Christ should suffer (18). Neither their ignorance nor God's predictions exonerated them, however. They must repent...and turn to God (19a). Then three successive blessings would take place.
The first is that your sins may be wiped out (19b), even their sin of doing to death the author of life. Exaleipho means to wash off, erase, obliterate. It is used in the book of Revelation both of God who wipes away our tears (Revelation 7:17; 21:4) and of Christ who refuses to erase our name from the book of life (Revelation 3:5).
William Barclay explains the allusion: Ancient writing was upon papyrus, and the ink used had no acid in it. It therefore did not bite into the papyrus as modern ink does.; it simply lay upon the top of it. To erase the writing a man might take a wet sponge and simply wipe it away. Just so, when God forgives our sins, he wipes the slate clean (cf. Isaiah 43:25).
The second promised blessing is that times of refreshing may come from the Lord* (19c). The Greek word anapsyxis can mean rest, relief, respite or refreshment. It seems here to be the positive counterpart of forgiveness, for God does not wipe away our sins without adding his refreshment for our spirits.
The third promised blessing is that he may send the Christ who has been appointed for you -- even Jesus (20). Although during the present interim period he continuously gives us his forgiveness and his refreshment, yet he himself must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets (21).
Some commentators believe that the word "everything" in this sentence refers not to the universe which God will "restore" but to the promises which he will "establish." Thus the RSV translates the verse: "until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets...." But apokatastasis is more naturally understood of the eschatological restoration, which Jesus called a regeneration (Matthew 19:28), when nature will be liberated from its bondage to pain and decay (Romans 8:19ff) and God will make a new heaven and earth (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:5). This final perfection awaits the return of Christ.
These Christ-centered promises of total forgiveness (sins wiped out), spiritual refreshment and universal restoration were all adumbrated in the Old Testament. So Peter concludes with more significant quotations and allusions. He refers to three major prophetic strands which were associated with Moses, Samuel (and his successors), and Abraham.
First, Moses said, The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you (22), for anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people (23) (Deuteronomy 18:15ff; cf. Lk.9:35). Secondly, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days, the days of the Messiah (24). Although this is a very general statement, perhaps the chief reference is to God's promise, which began with Samuel, to establish the kingdom of David (e.g. 2 Samuel 7:12ff). At all events Peter assured his hearers, you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant of God made with your fathers (25a).
It is impressive that Peter regards the many and varied strands of Old Testament prophecy as a united testimony, applying to these days because fulfilled in Christ and his people. Thirdly, God said to Abraham, Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed (25b) (Genesis 12:3; 22:18; 26:4). This was a foundation promise of the Old Testament.
Consider both the beneficiaries and the nature of the promised blessing. As for the beneficiaries, When God raised up his servant Jesus, he sent him first to you to bless you (26a), the physical descendants of Abraham, as is several times emphasized by Paul (First the Jew, e.g. Romans 1:16; 2:9,10; 3:1,2).
But later Paul argues, especially in his letters to the Romans and the Galatians, that the promised blessing is for all believers, including Gentiles who by faith have become Abraham's spiritual children. And what is the blessing? It is not forgiveness only, but righteousness. For God sent Jesus Christ his servant to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways (26).
Looking back over Peter's colonnade sermon, it is striking that he presents Christ to the crowd according to the Scriptures as successively the suffering servant (13, 18), the Moses-like prophet (22-23), the Davidic king (24) and the seed of Abraham (25-26). And if we add his Pentecost sermon, and glance on to his speech before the Sanhedrin (4:8ff), it is possible to weave a biblical tapestry which forms a thorough portrait of Christ.
Arranged chronologically according to the events of his career, the Old Testament texts declare that he was descended from David (Psalm 132:11 = 2:30); that he suffered and died for us as God's servant (Isaiah 53 = 2:23; 3:18); that the stone the builders rejected has nevertheless become the capstone (Psalm 118:22 = 4:11), for God raised him up from the dead (Isaiah 52:13 = 2:25ff), since death could not hold him and God would not abandon him to decay (Psalm 16:8ff = 2:24, 27, 31); that God then exalted him to his right hand, to wait for his final triumph (Psalm 110:1 = 2:34,35); that meanwhile through him the Spirit has been poured out (Joel 2:28ff = 2:16ff, 33); that now the gospel is to be preached world-wide, even to those afar off (Isaiah 57:19 = 2:39), although opposition to him has been foretold (Psalm 2:1ff = 4:25,26); that people must listen to him or pay the penalty of their disobedience (Deuteronomy 18:18,19 = 3:22,23); and that those who do listen and respond will inherit the blessing promised to Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 22:18 = 3:25,26).
This comprehensive testimony to Jesus as rejected by men but vindicated by God, as the fulfilment of all Old Testament prophecy, as demanding repentance and promising blessing, and as the author and giver of life, physically to the healed cripple and spiritually to those who believe, aroused the indignation and antagonism of the authorities. -- John Stott.
Shouldn't EVERY sermon honor and exalt Jesus? Shouldn't all we Christians do be done to honor and exalt Jesus? Some are so "hung up" on "authority" as the meaning of doing things "in the name of Jesus" that they entirely overlook what the phrase really means! Peter knew the difference. He knew what it MEANT to do things "in the name of Jesus." It's to honor and exalt HIM by what we say and do. -- Ray Downen