Summary: The "Secret to Change" through 1) The Perplexity of the Crowd (Acts 3:12-13), 2) The Person of Christ (Acts 3:14-17), and 3) The Power of Christ (Acts 3:18-19).
For several years of government contracts, many civil servants, including teachers, have been able to bank unused sick days for cash payments after several years of service. In Ontario, leading up to this labour day, the provincial government has endeavered to pass legislation to change this provision to have sick days be used only for sickness. It has taken a situation of unprecidented debt to enable such a call for change.
When Peter and the other apostles were approaching the temple in Jerusalem, they were called on for financial help from a sick man. They did not have the financial resources to help him, but cured him of his sickness. That sickness became symbolic of the need for change that required a supernatural act, resulting in repentence.
When we see suffering in our world and in our lives, what's the answer. In allowing difficulties, be it environmental or personal, God is showing us that He is not a God to be trifled with. The difficultes are pointing to a greater calamity of eternal judgment and unrepentant sin will lead to this. Yet there is now an opprotunity to turn from that sin, a "Secret to Change". But it is hidden to those to reject the path of deliverance.
1) The Perplexity of the Crowd (Acts 3:13)
Acts 3:12-13 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: "Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. (ESV)
In verse 12, Peter and John’s healing of a man crippled from birth drew a large crowd. He stood with the apostles on Solomon’s portico in the temple, a living illustration that God’s power rested on them. Passing from the court of Israel back again through the court of women and the Beautiful Gate, Peter and John came with the healed man to the court of Gentiles. On the eastern side of the court of Gentiles was located Solomon’s Colonnade. It was a porch along the inside of the wall with rows of stone columns twenty-seven feet high supporting a cedar roof. Evidently the Christians met here frequently (Gaertner, D. (1995). Acts. The College Press NIV Commentary (Ac 3:16). Joplin, MO: College Press.).
When Peter saw that the crowd had gathered, he began his sermon. The continuity of the New Testament with the Old Testament stands out remarkably in St. Peter’s address. He speaks to the “men of Israel,” and he connects the present miracle with all that God had done to their fathers in days gone by. He does not seem conscious of any break or transition, or of any change of posture or position. Only a new incident, long since promised by the prophets, has been added (Acts of the Apostles Vol. I. 1909 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.). The Pulpit Commentary (94). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.)
By addressing the crowd as men of Israel, a courteous title emphasizing their identity as the covenant people (cf. v. 25). The expression men of Israel is a means of identifying Peter with those to whom he speaks and would include both men and women (Newman, B. M., & Nida, E. A. (1972). A handbook on the Acts of the Apostles. UBS Handbook Series (76). New York: United Bible Societies.)
His first question, why do you wonder/marvel at this, is a mild rebuke. As the covenant people, they knew God to be a miracle-working God. Miracles had played an important role in their history. More recently, they had witnessed the miracles performed by Jesus to demonstrate that He was the Messiah, God’s Son. That God should work another miracle through the apostles should come as no surprise to them.
• This introduction serves some important lessons on sharing the truth about Christ. Before an explanation of who Christ is or a call to faith, it may be necessary to clear up misunderstanding in our audience to open a channel for discussion. Yet while doing so, it is crucial to neither talk down to or ridicule.
Peter then asks them why do you stare/gaze at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? They should have known that two Galilean fishermen had neither the power nor the piety to perform such a feat on their own. The crowd’s dilemma was that while they acknowledged God alone as having the power to do miracles, they had denied that Jesus was God, and that His followers had divine power granted by God. So they were left with no explanation for what they had just seen. Peter directs attention away from himself and John to Jesus Christ. He makes clear that it was Christ's power that effected the healing (3:6).