The Second Gospel Sermon
We are all probably much more familiar with the first gospel sermon than we are the second. The first was preached by Peter and the apostles on the first Day of Pentecost following the ascension of the Lord back to His heavenly glory. The Holy Spirit had come upon them, as Jesus had promised, to guide them unto all truth and to bring to their remembrance all that He had taught them. The account of this sermon can be read in Acts chapter two. But we may be less familiar with the second gospel sermon, probably because not nearly as many sermons are devoted to it. We find it recorded in Acts chapter three.
Peter and John were heading for the temple at the hour of prayer when they came across a man who had never walked before in his life. He was begging, and was hoping to receive something from them. "But Peter said, 'I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene-- walk!' And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. And with a leap, he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God." (Acts 3:6-8).
This man was known to all. He had never walked, and it was his
custom to sustain himself through begging at that same place every day. When
healed, the man walked and leaped and praised God. Imagine his joy! Imagine the
wonder of the people who had seen him for so many years sitting. Idle muscles
never used before had strength as if they had been used all along. Nothing we
see today compares to this. This was not a "healing service" like seen today.
This was not an unknown man pretending to be lame. This was not a man who would
now be able to limp a few steps. There is no asking for money by those through
whom the man had been healed.
Giving Jesus Credit
The meaning behind the miracle was explained to the people. Peter and John are quick to explain that the miracle was not about them, nor about the previously lame man. It was about Jesus. The power came through the Lord Jesus, whom they had crucified by the hands of Pilate, and whom God had raised up and restored to glory. (Acts 3:11-16).
The people are accused of doing worse than Pilate. They had delivered Jesus up to Pilate, and then when Pilate had decided to release Him they had demanded His death (vs. 13). Peter, in his sermon, identifies Jesus as "the Holy One". This is particularly fitting because, in an Old Testament prophecy from 900 years before, it had been said that the Holy One would not be left in the place of the dead. "For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol; Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay." This point had also been made in the first gospel sermon. (Psalm 16:10; cf. Acts 2:31,32).
Peter selects terms carefully from the Scriptures with which the people were already familiar to identify Jesus. Jesus is referred to as "His (God's) servant Jesus" (vs. 13; Isaiah 42:1-3). Also, He is "The Righteous One" (vs.14; See Isaiah 9:7; Jeremiah 23:5). Additionally, Jesus is "The Prince of Life" (vs. 15 ; Isaiah 9:6; Daniel 9:25).
As the identification of Jesus of Nazareth continues, Peter
refers to His resurrection from the grave. Peter and John, and many others, had
walked and talked with Jesus following His rising from the grave. This fact had
also been confirmed by the twelve apostles on the Day of Pentecost (vs. 3:15;
Acts 2:32). But why believe them? There are many good reasons, including the
Scriptural citations to which Peter has already referred. But there is another
powerful reason, and they do not have to look very far to see it..
The Healed Man
"And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all." (Acts 3:16). The event they had just witnessed finds sense only by divine action, because with man it would have been impossible. Here is a lame man here they have seen all their lives... begging at this gate, lame from birth. "Look at him!" Where does that power come from? Its the same power that raised Jesus up!
That is the answer to the question, "Why should we listen to the
apostle's teachings?" whether asked by these people or by people today. The word
of the message has been confirmed. It is from God!. (Hebrews 2:3,4; Jude 3).
Testimony of the Scriptures
They had acted in ignorance. It is not that they did not know the words of Scripture, but that their prejudices and hard hearts had kept them ignorant of the intent and meaning of them. How often people can read simple Bible truths, claim to love God, and yet dismiss the obvious in favor of their own preferences (i.e. baptism). These people had crucified Jesus because of the lack of willingness to accept the truth about Him. But God knew that it
would be that way; "But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled. (Acts 3:18).
Repent, Return, Redeemed, Refreshed
"Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." (Acts 3:19). Here we see a two part command and with a two part promise. The people are told to "repent" which means to turn their hearts away from sin and unto God. Then they are told to "return" which involves some action. Peter does not not specify here what this action would entail, but had done so previously (Acts 2:38).
The result: They would have their sins wiped away (see also Acts 22:16) and receive seasons of refreshing. But to reject Jesus would close the door to the grace God offers (Acts 3:21-26). God will "send Jesus" (vs. 20) to those that obey the gospel. Though now in Heaven until His return, He can still be with us. He does not want to remain just in heaven. He wants to a part of their, and our, lives (Matthew 28:20; 18:20; John 14:18-21;23). All the prophets foretold "these days". We are now in them, and await His return. Because of His grace, we can be ready for it. The people of Peter's day needed to know this. We do too.
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 10.3; March, 2003