Acts 3:11-21

Peter and John pointed people’s attention to Jesus.

Peter told them that they should not be surprised at the miracle they saw in the crippled beggar.  Peter told the crowd, “You, Israelites, why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk?  The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.”  Rather than taking the credit for themselves, they gave glory to God!  I think that is exactly what we should do after accomplishing anything great.

 

Peter and John pointed out their sins.

“You handed over and disowned in the presence of Pilate, although he decided to release him.  The Jews are responsible for the death of God’s servant.  “You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.  You killed the Author of Life, whom God raised from the dead.  To this, we are witnesses.”  Peter spoke directly at the conscience of his audience.  He put the blame, not on Pontius Pilate who commanded his soldiers to crucify Jesus, but the Jewish people who had demanded Jesus’ death.  Crucifixion was the most horrible way to punish the criminals in the Roman world.  It was the most shameful act in human history.  Whenever they speak of it, there is a kind of shocked horror in their voices.  It is as if they said, “Look what sin can do!”

 

“To this we are witnesses!”  God has called every believer to live their lives as the witnesses of Christ’s death and resurrection.  Are you living your life as a witness?  Peter said, “By faith in his name, this one whom you see and know was made strong in his name.  The faith that has come through him has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you” (v.16).  You may have a question whether Peter talks about the faith of the apostles or the faith of the crippled beggar.  The answer, of course, is that both th apostles and the beggar had faith.  Peter and John performed the miracle only because they fully trusted Jesus to give them the power to heal.  The lame man also trusted the Lord to heal him.  The faith and the name of Jesus are the two side of the same coin that bring healing in this story.  Faith is the manner and Jesus’ name is the cause of the man’s restoration.  By faith in Jesus’ name, Peter trusted that Jesus’ divine healing power would flow through him to heal the lame man.

One thing we need to be careful about the ministry of healing.  Among the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of healing (1 Cor. 12:9, 28).  Paul performed healing miracles during his missionary tours.  But he was not able to use his gift of healing whenever he pleased and wherever he wanted.  He had to learn how to live the life of contentment with a thorn in the flesh which God did not remove.  It is only up to God to answer our prayers in his time and according to his will.  This should make us humble and depend on God even more!

 

Exhortation

Peter told them that they did it in ignorance.   He said, ‘You guys committed the crime unintentionally, being led by a mob spirit that caused you to shout, “Crucify Jesus!”  Peter also told the crowd that Jesus suffered and died in order to fulfill the prophecy of the prophets.  Many prophets in the Old Testament prophesied that “Christ would suffer, die and rise again.”  Since the Jewish people were familiar with the writings of the Prophets, Peter reminded them by using the Old Testament Prophecies.

But Peter did not miss this wonderful opportunity to lead them to Christ the Author of Life and the Savior of the world.  So he told them to repent and turn to God so that their sins may be wiped out.  Another way to say this is to “repent and believe” since repentance is a turning away from sin and faith is a turning toward to God.  We know that only God through Jesus Christ forgives our sins.  When God forgives our sins, our broken relationship with God can be restored.  What does it mean by “That times of refreshing may come from the Lord?”  It literally means “that there may come seasons of refreshing from the face of the Lord.”  “The times or seasons of refreshing” may mean “salvation”; “time of spiritual strength or renewal; Jesus’ second coming.”  According to today’s context, Peter probably meant their salvation and new life in Christ through their repentance and faith.

 

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?  If not, you can do that right now.  How do you live out your faith?  Do you maintain strong faith?  Is your faith and lifestyles aligned with the Word of God?  There are many people who are suffering in today’ world including the people in Syria.  Many of our neighbors and family members follow the pattern of this world rather than following the Way of Jesus in their ignorance.

Let us live our lives as the witnesses of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Let us approach to those who are lost, least, and the marginalized in our society in the name of Jesus.

We’ve heard countless people say, “This is the church I’ve been looking for all my life; I just didn’t know it.”  According to the New Testament, the point is not whether I prefer being a part of a small church or a large church. The point is not whether this congregation will continue to be a small church or become a large church. The only point about which the New Testament seems to care is this: is there someone in the city of Tampa who is waiting to experience the love of God through us? Is there someone for whom God’s love can be made real because of the witness of this church? If there’s one more person in Tampa who needs to experience the love of God in Jesus Christ, then this church is not yet big enough.” 

Rev. Dr. Jim Harnish (former senior pastor at Hyde Park UMC in Tampa) 

 

Let us also be the kind of church Rev. Harnish talked about.  “If there’s one more person in Ormond Beach who needs to experience the love of God in Jesus Christ, then this church is not yet big enough.   Let us pray and continue to live out our faith so that we also can hear from countless people, “This is the church I’ve been looking for all my life; I just didn’t know it!”

 

Let us pray.