2016-8-21 Take Time to Talk About Jesus

ACTS 3:1-26                                                                                          AUGUST 21, 2016


Most Christians understand that we should be witnessing about Jesus at every opportunity. However, many believers are uncomfortable with taking time to talk about Jesus. In this passage in Acts 3 Peter and John are on their way to a prayer service. Prayer at the Temple was held three times a day. During this service there was usually singing along with prayer. I am sure that just like today that services would begin on time. This encounter with the crippled beggar took place at the entrance to the Temple. What strikes me is that Peter did not hurry on by on his way to pray, but took time to speak to the beggar. As we look at this passage I hope that we will be encouraged to also take time to talk to others about Jesus.

Acts 3:2-5 (NIV) 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.” It is no surprise that there were people begging. There was no other way for them to make a living. The entrance to the Temple would have been a good place to seek help. The beggar was expecting to receive a coin.

Acts 3:6-8 (NIV) 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.” Peter understood that Jesus had called him to be a fisher of men. Peter understood that he was calling people to faith in Jesus. Peter was not seeking to promote himself. He understood that his power to heal and do miracles came from Jesus. A miracle took place as the beggar’s feet and ankles were restored to full function immediately.

I am sure that not many people came into the Temple jumping up and down and yelling for joy. Jesus had made him whole! His antics drew a crowd. Acts 3:9-10 (NIV) 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” I am sure that many of the people who were present had probably had given him coins before. They knew who he was.  Seeing the joy of someone being healed is truly a wonder and leads to people wanting to know how the miracle took place.

Acts 3:11-12 (NIV) 11 While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?”Luke tells us where this took place as it was a very large area which could accommodate large crowds that were gathering. Peter immediately lets the people know that the power to heal came from Jesus, and not from him. Miracles are not an everyday occurrence. Miracles are from God, which the Jews understood at once and opened a door so that the people who witnessed this miracle would be willing to listen.

Peter began preaching by pointing to Jesus. Acts 3:13-14 (NIV) 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.” Peter hammers them with the truth that they were partially responsible for Jesus being executed by the Romans. Note that Peter used the word “servant” to describe Jesus.

The Jews present would have immediately made the connection to the servant passages found in Isaiah 42-53. Isaiah 42:1 (NIV) 1 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.” Isaiah 53:10-12 (NIV) 10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. 11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

In pointing to the passages of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah the people would then begin to understand by the work of the Holy Spirit that the Isaiah passages did refer to Jesus. They would have begun to understand that Jesus had to be the Son of God and that they had put him to death. Peter did not sugar coat the message. Acts 3:15-16, 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16 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 can all see.” It is very hard to argue with the miracle that the crowds had just witnessed. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction and understanding.

Peter tells them that all this took place as a part of God’s plan. Acts 3:17-23 (NIV) 17 “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. 21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 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. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’”

Peter tells them that everything that took place with Jesus was a fulfillment of prophecy and that now they were being called to repent and turn to God. Peter told them to repent and the result would be that their sins would be wiped out. When records were used to record events the scribe would use ink on parchment.  Ink could be removed by using a wet cloth to wipe away any record of what had been previously recorded. Peter was saying that God would not only forgive their sins but that any record would be wiped out.

Peter tells them that to ignore this message about Jesus by refusing to repent would have consequences. Ignoring this message will result in being completely cut off from God’s chosen people. Peter also told them that Jesus as the Son of God now resides in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything.

Peter concludes his message with a word of hope and of the promise of the covenantal blessings from God. Acts 3:24-26 (NIV) 24 “Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Peter reminds them of the blessings that are now offered in turning back to God by professing faith in Jesus, the Messiah. These promises are also made to us. When we turn by faith to Jesus,  our sins will be forgiven and wiped away (deleted) from the Lord’s records. God’s plan continues to unfold. God has called us to faith and we are now disciples of Jesus. Our fellow citizens are just as lost and needy as they were 2,000 years ago and they need to be told where to find help and forgiveness.  May we be like Peter and John who took the time to talk about Jesus to all those who would listen. This is our task!

Let us pray.