Summary: how Peter confronted the Jews on killing the author of life, and how we are to use witnessing opportunies to do the same
April 27, 2003 Acts 3:12-20
12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 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. 17 “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—namely Jesus.
There are some things that only happen once in a lifetime. Occurrences that make you absolutely stop in your tracks and say to yourself, “I can’t believe that just happened.” Several years ago I was at a Pastor’s conference up in Hadar, NE, eating breakfast at a hotel, when I noticed the receptionist’s TV - which showed a huge hole in the World Trade Center. I couldn’t believe what was happening - it was almost surreal. Each and every one of us will never forget those airplanes flying into the twin towers - it was an occurrence that will be forever etched in our minds.
Just prior to today’s text - something like that happened - something that made everyone stop in their tracks and stand there in awe. A man who had been crippled from birth - who was over 40 years old and had begged at the temple gates for years, was healed and enabled to walk. As the people were about their daily routines, they suddenly saw this man jumping and running around in the temple courts. They would never forget what had just happened that day. It was a miracle.
It’s at moments like these - time stopping moments - in war, sports, romance - that a tremendous opportunity arrives. It’s like the blinders of every day life are removed from people, and they’re so amazed that they’re willing to stop and listen - at least for a minute. Their hearts and minds are so shocked that they want to hear - want to find out what happened - and how it happened. When Vince Lombardi won the many trophies with the Green Bay Packers during the 196 0’s, he became a virtual icon in the world. People bought his books, sought his autograph, paid him to deliver speeches, and treated him like a virtual god. This happens all of the time. It happened with the firefighters and the police officers of New York - those remaining were a hot item on the talk shows and book fairs.
Unfortunately, we often turn these modern day heroes into the golden calves of America. We buy their baseball cards, read their books, seek their autographs, and treat their words as if they were the words of God Himself. Up in Wisconsin it was Vince Lombardi and Brett Favre. In Kansas it’s George Brett and Bob Dole. In America it’s the soldiers or the firefighters of New York. In the realms of Christianity it may be Martin Luther, Mother Theresa, Billy Graham or the Pope. Humans love to put these people up on a pedestal and treat them like gods. Half jokingly reporters even say, “he is a god” and “you can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him,” and the idols don’t complain. The sad thing is that most of the time these heroes can’t help but eat up all the attention they’re getting. They love to have people listen to them and eat up their every word, how they were able to dig deep and somehow pull out the victory or save the damsel in distress.
But we’re really not any less guilty. Our children even think to themselves and even say, “I want to be a movie star,” or “I want to be a basketball player,” or “I want to be a policeman”. There’s nothing wrong with it in and of itself, but they most likely want to do those things because they dream of one day being recognized as a hero or a superstar. All of us have that selfish magnet within us that wants people to look, to pay attention, to listen to what we have to say. We don’t like it when we aren’t recognized for the great job we think we’re doing at work or at home. We get miffed if someone doesn’t say “thank you” or pat us on the back. But we sure do love the people who constantly tell us what great people we are or how much help we have been to them. It shows that we are very self centered people.