devotion 6-6-15

Good Morning!

Acts 3:11-26

11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished. 12When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, ‘You Israelites,* why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant* Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus* has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

17 ‘And now, friends,* I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah* would suffer. 19Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, 20so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah* appointed for you, that is, Jesus, 21who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets. 22Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you from your own people* a prophet like me. You must listen to whatever he tells you. 23And it will be that everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be utterly rooted out from the people.” 24And all the prophets, as many as have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, also predicted these days. 25You are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors, saying to Abraham, “And in your descendants all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 26When God raised up his servant,* he sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.’

The healed man, standing and walking, is a powerful testimony. The people gather around Peter and John, and this man, in a portico of the temple. (In the attached photo of a model of the temple, there are porticos all around the temple – one of those, apparently, was called Solomon’s Portico.) And this provides the opportunity for the second of Peter’s sermons described by Luke.

First, Peter says that what has happened for this man is not by his and John’s power or piety, but has occurred through the power of Jesus Christ. When the Spirit does work miracles of healing, how often we forget that it was not through our own power that it occurred! This is something I realized years ago, on mission in Jamaica, when a healing did occur as we all prayed – and there is no doubt that God sometimes brings about healing in response to our prayers! But in this instance, I had the thought, perhaps my prayers can bring about healing. And then I realized what a burden that would be – to have the power to heal on one’s own would mean one could do nothing else; what about the person I did not pray for? No, I realized, healing and miracles belong to God, not to me! And that is what Peter makes clear to the people there – the healing is done through Jesus Christ.

This is the same Jesus they, and their leaders, turned over to the Romans to crucify. Again Peter holds all the people of Israel, especially Jerusalem, responsible for the crucifixion. Quoting Willimon, “When confronted by God’s Messiah, humanity got together and did what it often does in the face of truth – violence and crucifixion.” But God responded to humanity’s action with his own action, resurrection. To follow Jesus means to be a witness to God’s action in response to human violence and rejection.

And so, they must repent, and turn from their evil ways, and follow this Jesus. God will forgive them, and Jesus will, some day, return to be their Messiah as well.

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