Heather has provided the notes this week. The passage can be read here.
In the first part of his sermon yesterday, Peter explained how it was the power in Jesus’ name which had healed the man – now he applies to his audience the truth which follows on and the need for a response.
From the beginning, God had intended all these things to happen – their revered prophets, including Moses, Samuel and Isaiah, had foretold ‘these days’ (v24) – ie not only the happenings of the death and resurrection of Jesus but also healings such as this one (Isaiah 35:6), so it was not a ‘new teaching’ (v24), as doubtless the Jews had thought (or been told!)
Peter assures them that they themselves are in line to share in the blessing God has promised them as heirs under the old covenant, if they repent and turn back to God. Jesus their Messiah had been sent first to them to bless them with the good news of the coming of God’s kingdom. Ignorance may previously have driven their actions, but now there is no excuse. They need to repent and turn back to God.
Peter doesn’t pussyfoot around, but tells it as it is – tells them of their wrongdoing and disobedience, (v14-15) and of the way out of it (v19), with a warning of the consequences if they didn’t listen (v23). Again, Peter shows what he has learnt from Jesus in those post-resurrection days – that Jesus has now entered into his glory (cf Luke 24: 26) and is in heaven, but is poised to return as the Christ ‘appointed for them’, to be their Saviour and mediator before almighty God.
He is as gentle (17) as he is clear but that doesn’t make the message weak or watery. There’s certainly a lesson here for me in the way I think about sharing God’s good news! We need gentleness but firmness, taking any opportunity afforded us of lifting up the name of Jesus in a relevant and up-to-date way. Peter would later write that we should always be prepared to give an answer for our hope…but with gentleness and respect (1Peter 3:15)
I guess a lot of us find the balance between gentleness and firmness a difficult one. If so, we need to pray daily for clarity about how to relate what we have experienced of God to the questions that others ask of us, so that we can offer good news that they can see as relevant to themselves also.
- Just because we don’t have all our questions answered doesn’t mean that our faith is based on something rather vague or wobbly. God’s plan was written clearly in the Old Testament, though only understood with hindsight by the disciples themselves. So it is often for us – we get more clarity about God’s dealings with us when we look back. Lack of immediate understanding of God’s dealings with us doesn’t invalidate God’s promises to us in Scripture.
- Often we fail to recognise our need of ‘times of refreshing’, even as believers; it may be we’re physically tired, or feel spiritually dry, or have simply ‘lost’ our enthusiasm and love for God. Let’s ask Him to refresh us again today – if that means genuinely repenting, let’s do it! – so that we enjoy once again God’s blessing on our lives. (Lamentations 3:23: ‘His compassions are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.)