Summary: Peter and John give us a model for Christian acts of service and proclamation. Also, Peter’s sermon focuses on Good News now and for the future.
Two of Jesus’ disciples – Peter and John – are on their way to the temple for prayer (Acts 3:1). In other words even though they were the first Christians – believing and trusting in Jesus as Messiah, and having witnessed Jesus’ death and resurrection – they had not turned their backs on being Jewish; far from it! They were the first ‘Messianic Jews’ and estimates today put the number of Jews believing in Jesus at between 30,000 and 125,000.(www.jewsforjesus.org.uk/AboutUsPages/FAQ_pages/FAQ_About2.html)
They were stopped by a man who was regularly to be seen begging at the Temple. The man had been crippled since birth (3:2); and following in the footsteps of Jesus when he called to them Peter and John looked at the man, spoke in the name of Jesus, took him by the hand and he was healed (3:3-7).
The man literally jumped for joy, praising God (3:8). Wouldn’t you!? The people were amazed (3:9-10).
There are two themes which I would like to draw out from our study of Acts 3 verses 11 to 26. The first is:
The model presented by Peter and John for Christian acts of service and proclamation:
1. It was in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (3:6 and 3:16). Our acts and proclamation must be also.
2. We can pray this: “Lord as I [do my job, go shopping for my neighbour, run this parenting course, visit a friend, pluck up the courage to chat to someone who is lonely] please use it for your glory. Please might people ask, “Why are you doing this” so that they can learn more about God’s love.
3. This man’s healing did not rely upon his faith. He asked for money (3:3). The disciples helped him physically in Jesus’ name (3:7).
4. When I worked for The Woolwich and used to visit Waterloo regularly I always took an apple with me to give to anyone sitting begging asking for money.
5. All the glory went to Jesus. Praise was deflected. For example (3:12) the (mainly Jewish) crowd stared at Peter as if he had power, a bit like the pagans who began to worship Paul in Acts 14:15. In both cases people were directed towards Jesus.
6. The ‘name’ of Jesus was central (Yeshua in Hebrew). ‘Name’ in Jewish thought speaks of character, attitude and authority.
7. EG, in a period drama a messenger comes “in the name of the king” (authority); an ambassador comes “in the name of the government”; campaigns run “in the name of fair trade”; elections “in the name of improved health and education” etc.
The second theme is:
The good news, now and for the future which is at the centre of Peter’s message, in word and deed:
1. First of all some facts. To the crowd Peter says “You killed the author of life but God raised him from the dead” (3:15)
2. Some scientists talk about Intelligent Design. Jesus is author, designer, word, creator (Colossians 1:16).
3. Amazing (oxymoron): Killing the author of life.
4. Peter says they acted in ignorance (3:17).
5. We will be aware of people we know who act in ignorance. Living as if this life is all there is, living as if there’s no God etc. However, once we’ve heard the gospel we have no excuse for ignorance.