Acts 3: 11 – 26 Peter speaks to the onlookers
While the man held onto Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them, ‘Fellow Israelites, 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? 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. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 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 completely healed him, as you can all see.’
‘Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For 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. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.”
‘Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, “Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.” When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.’
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Yesterday we read that this healing was a sign to the crowd. It bore witness to Jesus, increased the faith of believers and built up the numbers of the church. Today, we’re going to look at it from a different angle; we’re going to look at it as an allegory for the healing that God brings about when somebody repents from their sin.
Human sin has dreadful consequences. Greed, lust, and ambition lead to oppression, suffering and death. Idleness, indifference, and lack of moral purpose allow selfishness to flourish. When we’re honest with ourselves, we can see that we all share the same faults and they all lead to the same end result.
Consider, for example, the way the UK supplies weapons to Saudi Arabia. The end result is that Yemeni civilians, including many women and children, are killed by British bombs dropped by British-built warplanes.
Are we, as a nation, outraged by what our leaders are doing?
No. The arms trade is a big earner for the country. It employs many thousands of people. Not many people protest against it. And yet thousands of innocents die, and we all benefit. Doesn’t that make us rather like those Israelites who stood in the crowd and disowned Jesus?
Consider, too, the poverty trap that catches so many of our society. It’s built into our culture’s economic system.
Or the supply and consumption of narcotic drugs. Or road rage. Or the greed that leads to a disproportionate ratio between the highest earnings and the lowest. Or unchecked consumerism that is wrecking the planet.
All these things are the direct result of a web of human sin and despair, and they’re often interlinked.
Human sin does indeed have dreadful consequences. It cripples us morally.
Despite our flaws, God loves all humanity. He wants to deal with our flaws both at the level of the individual and at the level of society.
This passage in Acts tells us how he is doing this. He has sent Jesus to us to heal us and to bring us life. We must allow Jesus to heal us of that sin that cripples us. Peter tells the Israelites who witnessed this healing: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out”.
According to Peter in his address to the crowd, the results of repentance are that your sins are wiped out and that times of refreshment will come from the Lord. Furthermore, the repentance of God’s people will enable the return of Jesus in his second coming, and allow God to restore everything.
What was the response of the lame man to his healing? He rejoiced. He literally jumped for joy. He went straight into the temple praising God. He was overjoyed to be free of his disability. What was the response of the crowd? They repented and were saved.
In the same way, when we recognise our faults and turn to God in repentance and faith, we hear him say, “My child, I love you. You are forgiven. Follow Jesus. Love each other.”
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you that I am one of your children. Please help me to keep following Jesus faithfully.
In Jesus’ name, Amen