Summary: Peter's influence on the early church cast a long shadow for good.
A. There is a Peanuts cartoon that shows Peppermint Patty talking to Charlie Brown and she says, “Guess what, Chuck? It was just the first day of school, and I got sent to the principal’s office. It was your fault, Chuck.”
1. Charlie Brown responds, “My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?”
2. Peppermint Patty replies, “You’re my friend, aren’t you, Chuck? Then you should have been a better influence on me.”
B. Today, I want to talk about the influence of our lives.
1. The lives of all of us exert an influence on others, whether we like it or not.
2. Someone has said, “You can be a blot or a blessing, but you can’t be a blank.”
3. In other words, our influence can be for good or for bad, but it can’t be neutral or non-existent.
4. Just like the balls in this picture of a model called “Newton’s Cradle,” the swinging balls have an influence or impact on each other, whether they intend to or not.
5. So it is with our lives, we can’t help but have an impact on others, and for that reason, we must be careful about the kind of influence we are exerting.
C. Today, we want to look at the life of Peter, and his impact on the early church.
1. In last week’s sermon, we saw a real change in Peter, he truly had become new and improved.
2. We learned that the difference in his life came about because of his faith in the resurrected Jesus and because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
3. As we move through today’s sermon, we are going to link together several episodes in Peter’s life.
4. Each of them might be worthy of a sermon that focused on them alone, but I think we can benefit from them as snapshots of the kind of influence that God wants to bring through all of us, not just through someone like Peter.
5. I’m going to group these four episodes from Peter’s life under two categories that show the range of influence we can exert.
I. The First Category: An Influential Life Includes Encouraging and Helping
A. A subtitle for this category could be “The Influence of Tender Love.”
1. Perhaps tender love aligns better with your personality, as it does mine.
2. But even if tender love doesn’t come easily or naturally to us, it is an important spiritual characteristic and ministry that we can develop through the help of the Holy Spirit.
B. Last week, we looked at the healing of the 40 year old man who had been crippled at birth who sat at the gate called Beautiful in Acts 3 – that is also an episode in Peter’s life that falls into this category.
1. But this week, I want us to start at Acts 5:12-16, here we find a report that falls into this category of tender love – encouraging and helping.
2. The Bible says: 12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed. (Acts 5:12-16)
3. Here we see a catalog of signs and wonders the apostles were doing, including healing and casting out unclean or evil spirits.
4. But the thing that jumps out to me is the power of Peter’s shadow.
a. Can you imagine just walking past sick people on the sidewalk and them being healed because your shadow touched them?
b. How is that for power, impact and influence?
c. As we discuss influence, let’s allow Peter’s shadow to stand for the extent and impact of our lives.
d. What kind of shadow are we casting?
C. Let’s turn to Acts 9 and see a couple of other episodes where Peter’s influence is seen in encouraging and helping.
1. The Bible says: 32 Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. 33 There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. 34 And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. 35 And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.