What do you do when you realise you have done something terribly wrong and you know are going to cop the inevitable consequences? You start to panic or else you do some very serious thinking, “How can I get out of the mess I got myself into?”
That was the situation of the Jews we read about in Acts 3. They had earlier demanded that Jesus be crucified. He HAD then been crucified but there had been reports that God had raised Him from the dead on the third day. If that were so then it meant that the Jews of that time had killed their long-promised Messiah. So here they are in Acts 3 looking at a lame man who had been healed by the apostles. How had they healed him? By calling on the name of Jesus. It meant that Jesus was indeed alive. He had risen as Lord. He had returned to heaven. He had sent his Holy Spirit on the apostles and others to empower them. He could answer prayer asked in His name. What a mess these Jews were in! Guilty before God. Was there any escape for them?
Peter challenged them in 3 ways. He told them:-
1). YOU MEN OF ISRAEL (of that time) ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR JESUS’ DEATH. Acts 3:12-15. (12) 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? (13) 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. (14) But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,(15) and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.
He told them that they (as men of Israel) had put Jesus to death. They thought, as men of Israel, that Jesus should be killed for claiming to be the Son of God. But that wasn’t what their God, the God of Israel thought. Their God raised Him from the dead after they had Him killed! Jesus was indeed the Son of God! In these verses we note how Peter rammed home their guilt. They had delivered Jesus over; they had denied Him before Pilate; they had rejected the choice given to them by Pilate to set Jesus free. Instead they had chosen a murderer to be released to them; they had put to death the author of life. It was guilt upon guilt upon guilt.
How about ourselves? It’s no use our going, “Tut! Tut!” in condemning them. We too were involved in His death. It was our sins as part of all the sins of the world that nailed Him to the cross. We helped put Him to death through our sins. They were guilty. We too are guilty before God. As Peter put it in 1Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
2). JESUS IS RISEN AND ACTIVE IN HIS WORLD. (Healing Through The Name Of The Risen Jesus). 3:16-18. (16) And his name–by faith in his name–has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
A healing miracle had taken place before their eyes. Jesus had been asked to bring healing to a lame man, and the healing had taken place. God’s power was released into the man’s body as Peter and John prayed in the name of Jesus. It was another proof that Jesus had risen from the dead. Healing could take place in His name. They had seen it happen to a lame man. There was power in the name of Jesus.
3). THE NEED TO GET RIGHT WITH GOD THROUGH JESUS. 3:17-19. (17) Peter continued, “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. (18) But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. If they had known who Jesus was as their Messiah they would not have killed Him. Paul made the same point in 1Cor 2:7. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. They didn’t recognise that their Messiah had to suffer and die on the cross to take away the sins of the world. They were accountable. They would have known of many Old Testament prophecies which had predicted that the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One had to suffer and die.
Peter told them how to get out of their serious problem. He gave them two things to do, and then encouraged them with the good news of what would happen if they obeyed those 2 commands. These same two commands are applicable to us today. So is the good news if we too obey those same commands.
The Two Commands. (19) Repent therefore, and turn again. What did that mean for them? What does it mean for us?
i). Repentance. The word means a lot more than simply feeling sorry about what we said or did. It is a lot more than feeling deep remorse like Judas Iscariot did after he betrayed Jesus. It is a change of mind accompanied by a change of direction in life. It is recognising the sinfulness of sin and turning from that sin to God to ask for His mercy. Judas didn’t do that. He didn’t turn to God. His was not true repentance.
ii). Turning again. (From sin to God. The Greek word is epistrepho.) This word is used often in Acts to show the change needed in those who trust in Jesus. Some examples are as follows:-
In Acts 9:33-34, Peter said to Aeneas who was paralysed, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” When the residents saw him healed, they turned to the Lord.
In Acts 11:19-21 we read of men of Cyprus and Cyrene travelling with Stephen to Antioch. They preached Christ to the Hellenists. We read the result, Act 11:21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
When Paul and Barnabas came to Lystra in Acts 14:15 people bowed down to them. Paul responded, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM.
At the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15, mention was made of the Gentiles who were coming into the Christian faith. It raised the question as to whether they should be accepted into the Christian family as they were or should they be forced to adopt Jewish rites and ceremonies first. James was given the answer, Acts 15:19 “Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles.
So we see in these references that repentance demands a change of mind and also a change in direction. It is turning away from sin AND turning to trust fully in God and in Jesus with all that one is and has.
Three Results follow from obedience to these two commands.
i). Forgiveness of sins. (that your sins may be blotted out).
- The debt to God is cancelled. (We see forgiveness in action in Mat 18:27, The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.)
- The record of sins is blotted out.
- Forgiveness is available in Jesus for every sin. Eph 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood the forgiveness of our sins.
We too can know that all our sins, past, present and future are covered (forgiven) by the blood of Jesus as we receive Jesus in whom all that forgiveness is to be found.
ii). Refreshment by the Holy Spirit of God. (20) that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. This noun occurs only here in the New Testament. The verb form though is used in 2Tim1:16 to describe the refreshment that Onesiphorus brought to Paul in prison, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.
A similar reference is to be found in Titus, Tit 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Christian believers have experienced the sense of being washed, cleansed, being born again, coming alive, being renewed, as God poured out His Holy Spirit upon them. It’s the experience that those who obey those two commands enjoy as they commit themselves to the Living Lord.
iii). We are Made Ready for the Coming of Christ. (and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus). Instead of being fearful at His coming, believers could look forward to Him coming in glory as forgiven, renewed children of God. What a relief that would have meant for the men of Israel of that time. If He were to return in their life-time they no longer had any reason to fear His coming, if they did what Peter had commanded.
We too as His saved people can look forward to His coming with the same confidence, as He comes to take us to be with Him forever. It will be the final episode of our salvation. We recognise that in our Holy Communion services when we say together these three phrases in the table below. To the right of those phrases are the various aspects of salvation that they represent.
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
We are saved from the penalty of sin
We are being saved from the power of sin
We will be saved from the very presence of sin.
Praise God that if we find ourselves in a mess before God that we too can find the same way out as those Jews in Acts 3, by obeying those same 2 commands, that is by repenting of our sin and turning to God by trusting in Jesus His Son the Messiah and our Saviour.
Praise God we can know the same results if we do.
- We can be forgiven of all our sin through what Jesus has done on the cross.
- We can be refreshed by the Holy Spirit as we comes to indwell us
- We are made ready for Jesus‘ coming to take us to be with Him in glory.
In the words of one of our songs, Hallelujah! What a Saviour!
Blog No.071. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Wednesday 25th April 2012