The notes this week have been provided by Heather Capper. As usual, the passage can be read here.
News of the healing we read about yesterday spread quickly throughout the temple courts, causing a huge crowd to follow, gaping in astonishment. Peter is quick to seize the opportunity to turn the attention away from himself and the ex-cripple and on to Jesus. It’s possible that the crowd had almost forgotten about Jesus and his miracles (just as we today also can have short memories – out of sight, out of mind…), but here they are confronted with the fact that while Jesus may not be physically present, his power certainly is. Peter tries here to help them make sense of what is happening by testifying to the power inherent in Jesus’ name.
We read earlier in the week that the early church ‘devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching (2:42) and here we have some of that teaching – some insight into what the apostles had learnt from Jesus as eyewitnesses of his life, from his teaching in those post-resurrection days that he had been with them (Luke 24:44-45), and as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Peter tells the crowd here that the ancestral God of the Jews had been active for their salvation, in the person of Jesus, and they had missed it! Jesus was God’s servant, doing God’s will, the Christ of God, ie Messiah, for whom they had been waiting for centuries. Jesus’ death wasn’t any accident or tragedy; it was according to the plan and purpose of God and the proof of that was that God had raised Jesus from death to eternal life and glory (v13).
After asserting that Jesus was their Messiah, Peter drives home the message that his listeners must have been shocked to the core and horrified to hear: ‘You handed him over..you disowned him…you killed the author of life – just as people today would be shocked to hear that they themselves were responsible for the death of Jesus. All through the centuries the Jews have been blamed and often persecuted for causing the death of Jesus, but Scripture reminds us that he was ‘pierced for our transgressions…crushed for our wrongdoing’ (Isaiah 53:4-6), so we, and all humankind, are ‘responsible’ too.
The fact that it happened according to God’s will and purpose doesn’t absolve us from guilt, any more than those first century Jews. Jesus earlier in Luke (13:5ff) had told those who would follow him that they needed to repent, and in tomorrow’s passage, Peter will tell his listeners that too.
For us, resurrection is supernatural and as such, to many today it is unbelievable, despite the fact that eyewitness evidence is usually primary evidence and therefore first class evidence. In the face of today’s often negative take on the supernatural, we need to remind ourselves that every facet of evidence there is for the resurrection is not only compelling but is the best explanation of this amazing event and as believers we need to have confidence today in the reliability of Scriptural evidence and assert the truth of it.
The power Peter speaks of resides in the name of Jesus (16) and in our faith in that name, and as believers we trust daily in that name for our relationship with God the Father. We may or may not personally experience miracles on this scale, but miracles of different sorts happen all the time when the name of Jesus is uplifted, and God’s power is no less today.
Let’s make sure we have an up-to-date testimony, something to share with others which God has done for us this past week when we have called on His name, or something He has taught us recently about himself.
Do we find ourselves at a loss when others mock us for our belief in the resurrection and the supernatural miracles Jesus did? Let’s make time to think through what we do believe and assure ourselves that our faith doesn’t depend on ‘cleverly invented stories’ (2Peter 1:16), but on excellent objective evidence, as well as our own subjective experience of what God has done in our lives.
Thank you, Lord, that your purposes will always prevail, despite man’s efforts, and that you have our ultimate good in mind. Thank you for the power that the name of Jesus holds. Enable us to trust you for all things and to be confident that our faith is based on the best evidence we could have.