And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. — Acts 3:12-13
When I was growing up, our family went through a similar ritual every Christmas season. Mom and Dad would act as though they had completely forgotten the holiday was coming. They did not ask us children to create a list of toys and other items we wanted. We did not see them leaving the house to go shopping for presents during the season, and there were no gifts being wrapped and set aside for us to open on Christmas day. We would talk about this lack of evidence among ourselves, in a mixture of complaining, proverbial wringing of our hands, and anxious wonderment as to whether our parents really loved us.
All the time we were experiencing this childlike consternation over their apparent forgetfulness, my parents were quietly making plans, shopping for Christmas gifts, and hiding them away. They never let us down. Without fail, our parents would bring out gifts for us children to open on Christmas morning, and we would enjoy celebrating together. It took us years before we figured out the amusement our parents enjoyed through this annual ruse.
In retrospect, I wonder why we ever thought they would fail us. This hoax only worked because of our low expectation of our parents. We should have known that if our parents had the means to give us gifts on Christmas day, they certainly would do so. Even if it was difficult, they would do whatever they could to make our Christmas awesome. We should have known, because we knew how much our parents loved us.
In our focus verses, we see Peter trying to make a similar point to the Jewish people who witnessed the healing of the man lame from birth. When the man stood to his feet and was seen walking, leaping, and praising God, Peter asked the onlookers why they marveled. He indicated that they should have expected no less from “the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers.” This was not a God foreign to them. Unlike the Gentiles who had no knowledge of God, the Jews had known of Him all their lives! He had worked miracles repeatedly in their nation’s history, so why were they astounded at this event? Peter’s underlying point was that Jesus Christ was their promised Messiah, so they should not be surprised when works were done through His Name. After all, the prophets of old had foretold such works.
To be sure, there is always room for believers to have a healthy awe and wonder at the miracles God performs. However, we should also have an expectation that the God we know will move in our lives in miraculous ways when we need Him most. After all, we know He loves us and He has worked on our behalf before!
What challenges are you facing in life today? Do you expect God to show up and work out those challenges for His honor and glory? Remember, you can always count on Him . . . because He loves you!
The Apostles were dwelling in Jerusalem and therefore were in proximity to the center of Jewish life — Herod’s Temple. As Jews, Peter and John and the other disciples attended the different services of worship there.
Herod’s Temple was a complex with several precincts or courts to which admission was progressively restricted. All people were allowed to gather in the Temple’s outer court. From there, Jewish people could enter the area exclusively reserved for them. (Gentiles attempting to go beyond the outer court would have been subject to punishment, possibly even death.) The first of the inner courts was as far as the Jewish women were allowed to go; the next area was exclusively for ritually cleansed Jewish men; and the innermost court was reserved for the Temple priests.
There is some debate among Bible scholars regarding the exact location of the Beautiful Gate, although it probably was what is also known as the Nicanor gate. However, it would have been a gate separating the outer court where Gentiles were allowed from the inner area where only Jewish people could enter. Thus, the healing of the lame man not only would have been witnessed by residents of Jerusalem, but also by a mixed multitude of God-fearing Gentiles and Jews who had made a pilgrimage to the Temple from outside the local area. This location provided a rich opportunity for Peter and John to bear witness to the power of Jesus Christ to a large and diverse audience. In particular, it afforded an opportunity for the disciples to challenge a Jewish audience to acknowledge that Jesus was the Messiah.
Traditionally, many individuals with sicknesses of all types sat at the Beautiful Gate asking for alms (money, food, or other donations given to the poor or needy). No doubt this lame man whom Peter and John healed was a familiar sight. Thus, his healing clearly was an authentic miracle from God. Both his actions of leaping and walking, and his words of praise to God, were a testimony to the miraculous event that had taken place. No one present could deny the power of Jesus Christ, nor could they ignore the message that Peter proclaimed after the miracle.
Peter’s sermon repeated the theme of “repent” that characterized his first sermon (found in chapter 2). He admonished his hearers to “repent and be converted” (verse 19). The verb translated repent literally means to “return” or “turn again.” The result of so doing would be that their sins would be blotted out.
Verse 22 and 23 are probably a paraphrase of Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19. In verse 24, Peter established that Samuel was the first of a succession of prophets who had foretold the coming of the Messiah. He concluded his message by reminding those listening that they were “the children of the prophets” (verse 25) — the rightful heirs to the promises made through the prophets. The phrase “unto you first” (verse 26) confirms that it was God’s plan for the message of salvation to be delivered initially to the Jews, and then be spread throughout the world by them.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The witness in Jerusalem
B. The witness by Peter and John
1. The miracle by Peter (3:1-11)
a. The setting (3:1-2)
b. The request (3:3)
c. The response (3:4-7)
d. The result (3:8-11)
2. The message by Peter (3:12-26)
a. Israel’s rejection of Christ (3:12-18)
b. Israel’s need for Christ (3:19-26)
After the healing of the lame man, Peter saw an opportunity to preach to the amazed onlookers, and began by confronting their astonishment. His purpose and desire was to help them see that Jesus Christ, through whose Name the miracle had occurred, was indeed the Messiah prophesied by their forefathers.