Acts 3:11-26

Acts 3:11-26: Times of Refreshing

After the healing of the crippled beggar at the temple, the newly healed beggar held onto Peter and John.  The language suggests the beggar was clinging to them- holding tightly to his new, two best friends. The result of this healing attracted a crowd of curious onlookers there in the section of the temple known as Solomon’s Porch. Peter uses this occasion to preach another impromptu sermon.  Having obtained their attention- Peter asked two questions then proceeds to give a Scriptural answer.

Later Peter would write in I Peter 3:15; “ But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for your hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”  Peter sees the opportunity this miracle has provided to speak to this gathering crowd. Where once, he had denied he ever knew the Lord now Peter has become a bold and increasingly effective preacher of the Gospel.

Peter now looks at the world differently and looks at every occasion as an opportunity to preach the Gospel. Peter saw the ground was fertile, having been broken by this miracle of a changed life. He then proceeds to sow the seed of the Gospel in this fertile soil. Notice who the audience is:  “Men of Israel.”  This was a Jewish crowd, what one would expect in the Temple at the hour of prayer. And after all, Jesus’ instructions were to be His witnesses in Jerusalem first. Paul would emphasize it was always to the Jews first then others. This was God’s design and plan.

Peter says to these men of Israel-‘why are you surprised at this miracle?’ They knew of the miracles Jesus had performed- there were numerous witnesses to His various miracles including the resurrection of Lazarus after four days in the tomb. Why are you surprised- it is not as if miracles have not been performed before by Jesus and they will reveal this is just another miracle done in His Name.  In addition, these Jews were well versed in the wonder working miracles that God had done in the history of the Jewish people and nation- the parting of the Red Sea, the manna in the desert, the battle of Jericho, etc.

This crowd believes Peter and John have this power to heal and perform miracles. But Peter quickly dispels that belief by telling them this miracle of healing was accomplished by faith in the name of Jesus.

But notice how Peter approaches this impromptu sermon:  first he builds it on Scripture, a foundation of Old Testament referring back to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Then Peter lets them know this Jesus, whom Peter will prove based on facts is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God and fulfillment of prophecy was glorified by God and you handed Him over to be killed and disowned, denied Him. Talk about the Word of God being a two edged sword, Peter just delivered a thrust right to the heart of the matter.

Peter states the facts of our faith, for our faith is based on facts. Peter says you handed Jesus over to be killed.  Pilate was convinced of Jesus’ innocence and stated that he found no fault in this man. (Pilate had been warned by his wife not to have anything to do with this man, Jesus.) Pilate actually sought to release Jesus and gave the crowd the opportunity to have Jesus released- but they asked that a murderer, Barabbas, be released.

You killed him, Peter states, the author of life. But God raised Him from the dead and we are witnesses to this.

Peter states the cold hard facts: you turned Jesus over to be killed; you had a chance to free Him but chose instead to free a convicted killer. You denied, disowned the Holy and Righteous One. This term- Holy and Righteous One is a reference to the Messiah.  Peter knew the guilt they felt- for he, too, had experienced that guilt, having denied the Lord three times on the night of His arrest. The guilt created by his actions caused Peter to weep bitterly. Peter would go back to fishing feeling that because of his denial- he would no longer be considered a disciple of Jesus even after His Resurrection.  Perhaps this is why the angel at the empty tomb said ‘go tell His disciples  AND PETER, He is going ahead of you into Galilee and there you will see Him, just as he told you. (Mark 15) The angel had specific instructions to say ‘ the disciples and Peter’, for the Lord knew Peter would think himself no longer a disciple.  So Peter could certainly identify and empathize with their guilt.

Peter does not preach ‘ feel good about yourself’ preaching- he preaches the truth that is designed to convict one of sin, righteousness and judgment. In fact- Peter’s preaching is intended and designed to produce- guilt.

Do you know what always accompanies guilt?  Fear. Fear is produced by guilt. I used to wake up afraid in those last days of the summer of 1977.  This fear will cause one to take one of two courses: one method is to try and escape the fear through alcohol, drugs, or other diversions such as  a lifestyle that seeks pleasure in an attempt to run and hide in order to  blot out the fear and the guilt. But as the saying goes- you can run- but you cannot hide. For others their guilt and fear produce resentment, anger and bitterness which can cause them to lash out at others even in physical violence. Both are destructive and neither solves the problem of guilt. Day after day, sleepless night after sleepless night- people try to get away from their guilt- but it is constantly on their mind.  Disappointment, despair, depression are the constant companions of this person.

Why would Peter deliberately produce such guilt and pain? Because Peter wants to tell them the ‘good news’- the Gospel. He wants to tell them what God has done to solve the problem of guilt and fear for all of the human race. Peter is going to tell them the most wonderful news in the world- of a faith that lays hold of the grace of God.

Here is the solution to your problem Peter tells them: “ 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 given this complete healing to him, as you all can see.” ( verse 16)  Here is the Gospel- the ‘good news’- God is demonstrating to you how He reacts to human guilt. He reacts in love and grace, on the basis of the name of Jesus, by faith in the name of Jesus, this man believed and the power and authority and the work of that name had made him whole- completely healed.  You see when we place our faith in the name of Jesus, in His Shed Blood- the Lord passes over our sins- because they are blotted out by the blood.

Even though these people had handed over God’s Son to be killed and disowned Him- God’s answer to their rejection and our rejection of the Lord of life is to forgive us, justify us, and adopt us as His own children.  It was God’s own Son, the Lord Jesus who asked the Father from the cross to ‘forgive us – for they know not what they are doing.’ We are ignorant. We are blinded  by the lust of our flesh, the lust of our eyes and the pride of life. We have a veil over eyes placed there by the deceiver. We are blinded to the truth.

This blindness was the problem in the day of Peter and the disciples it is a problem today.  Today people look at Christianity and think what can that do to solve the problems of the world? So in their ignorance and blindness they keep trying to run the world in their own wisdom. The result is the blind leading the blind. Their pride is in how smart and educated they have become- ever learning but never coming to the truth. Until finally, we see what Isaiah saw- those who call good – evil and evil- good.

Do we really think man in his own finite knowledge and intelligence can fix the problems of the world? Do we think  science, medicine, technology, corporations and government can fix the world’s problems? Take a look around- the most technologically nation in the world today is Japan. We only succeed in making them worse and  the longer you wait to fix a problem- the more difficult and the more drastic are the solutions.  Yet God has not changed – He is the same today as yesterday as He will be in the future. God is still willing in His grace, mercy, love and kindness to say to those who ask for Him to forgive them- to graciously forgive us; to blot out our sins- to write it off as ignorance and blindness. In other words – He remembers we are dust, frail and prone to wander. “GOD DOES NOT TREAT US AS OUR SINS DESERVE; OR REPAY US ACCORDING TO OUR INIQUITIES. FOR AS HIGH AS THE HEAVENS ARE ABOVE THE EARTH, SO GREAT IS HIS LOVE FOR THOSE WHO FEAR HIM; AS FAR AS THE EAST IS FROM THE WEST SO FAR HAS HE REMOVED OUR TRANSGRESSIONS FROM US. BUT FROM EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING THE LORD’S LOVE IS WITH THOSE WHO FEAR HIM!” (Psalms 103 by David) God blots out our sins- could there be any greater news?

He forgives all our sins. He redeems our life from the pits. What a portrait of a loving father. He is more merciful than we deserve. He knows we need Him.

So  Peter preaches to produce guilt and fear. Fear of judgment is what a guilty person fears. They know they are guilty- their guilt is ever before them.  Living with this fear and guilt is not how God intended for us to live. Peter had awakened this guilt and fear for only one reason- that he might share the good news how this problem can be solved. Let us listen to Peters’ impromptu sermon as he uses this occasion to give reason for  his hope.

“ 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 Christ, who has been appointed for you-even Jesus. He must remain in heaven 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 among His people.”

Have you experienced the refreshing that comes from the Lord’s forgiveness of your sins? Have you known the refreshing that comes when all your sins are blotted out- cancelled!  When you know this truth- it sets you free. I believe this refreshing comes not only to an individual who repents and turns to God- I believe it can come to a nation as scripture and history testify to this truth.

Notice this repenting and turning to God leads ultimately to the time in the future when the Lord Jesus will return to earth to restore everything.

Peter quotes from Moses, refers to Samuel and the prophets as if to say- you are Jews you know the prophets, you know what the Scriptures tell us and they all point to Jesus. God has sent Him to you to turn you from your wickedness.

In Jesus, Peter is telling these religious Jews, you have the fulfillment of prophecy and can fully realize your destiny as sons of the covenant. To follow after Jesus would not be a break from covenant but would actually be a realization of the covenant of fellowship that God had always wanted to have with His people. Christianity is not a break from Judaism it actually grew out of its Hebrew roots. By accepting Jesus as Messiah, Lord and Savior- these Jews would be completed Jews.

But the time was coming when fewer and fewer Jews would believe the Gospel as Christianity spread to and through the Gentiles.  But the early days it sprang from converted Jews and the disciples, including Paul would always seek to bring the Gospel message to the Jews in the area first.

Peter tells them: “ When God raised up His Servant(Lord Jesus) He sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” (verse 26)

We marvel at Peter’s  boldness to tell it like it is. The truth sometimes hurts- but pain is useful for a physician to diagnose a health problem or issue.

Guilt is described as a feeling of pain or responsibility or remorse for some real or imagined offense. Now there are different types of guilt.

Charles Stanley explains these as follows:

  1. Civil guilt. You broke a human law. Speeding, running a red light or not paying your taxes. You must pay a fine or receive whatever punishment this guilt demands.
  2. Theological guilt. You broke a divine law of God. The Bible is clear we are all guilty- all have sinned.
  3. Psychological guilt is guilt we feel. Can be real or imagined. Example of imagined: my parents divorced because of me…
  4. True Guilt is guilt that leads to constructive sorrow.This guilt is healthy- just as physical pain is healthy in that this is our cue that something is wrong.

Two responses are common:  I give up- I can’t help it and I have tried and tried to no avail. The despair of lost hope is dangerous and can lead to suicide or turning to alcohol and drugs to dull the pain. The other response is ‘ I’m not that bad. And no one is perfect. Rationalization of sin.  Also an equally dangerous solution for dealing with guilt.

God produces the pain of guilt and the fear that accompanies it in order to deal with the root problem of sin. A person who is not sick- does not need a physician. So God makes it clear we are hopelessly, helplessly lost. All have sinned- none are righteous, no not one. There is none who understands, there is none who seek after God.  That is why Jesus said He came to seek and save the lost.

We must be able to recognize our wrongs in order to resolve them, and guilt is the avenue through which we can achieve this.  No wonder Peter’s preaching had such results- it produced  guilt- then offered the solution- Gods’ grace made available through the work at Calvary by the Lord Jesus.

Coca-cola had an advertising campaign that ran for years where the tag line was “ the pause that refreshes.” When you are really thirsty- there is nothing that will satisfy your thirst like cold water. Jesus gave the woman at the well reason to pause – then explained how she could have water that refreshes ever springing up- the true source of refreshing- salvation available only in the name of Jesus.