Acts #11 (chapter 3:12-18)
The Book of Acts
Confronting the Murderers of Christ, Part 1
Acts 3:12–18
If Peter had been speaking on the public streets of America in our day and age, he would most certainly have been accused of anti-Semitism with what we read here.  And I suppose any of us who deal honestly with what Scripture says regarding the death of Jesus would be regarded with suspicion as well. 
But just because we speak truthfully about the subject does not mean we are anti-Semitic just as speaking truthfully about a number of other issues doesn't mean we are homophobic or racist or gender-biased or guilty of a multitude of other accusations that are thrown about.    
I'll tell you where I stand on such issues:  I just want to have the same attitude toward these issues and individuals that God has.  I understand that the Jews are God's covenant people.  They are the apple of His eye. In fact, Jesus came to bring the gospel to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile.
In fact, all of my heroes are Jewish.  I tease some about being thankful that I wasn't born Jewish because I love pork so much, but I must confess there is a real envy in my heart toward those that are Jews because a born -again Jew gets all the spiritual blessings of salvation plus all the inherent blessings of being in covenant with God as a Jew!
And I think our heart ought to be the same as that of Christ as He wept over their unbelief and desired that they would come to a saving knowledge of WHo He is and why He came. 
However, none of that changes what Scripture says and what history records Israel did to their Messiah It is reality and it doesn’t do any good to deny it. It is the truth. In fact, I find it very ironic that the Jews would offer such outrage and disdain for those that would deny the Holocaust, yet they bristle at the idea they crucified their Messiah. 
But it was them who rejected their Messiah.  They put Him in the hands of the Romans to execute Him.  That’s an enormous crime, as is the rejection of Christ by anyone at anytime in human history. Any rejection of Jesus Christ brings about eternal judgment. 
So while we don’t assess some kind of unique, more severe judgment on Israel because they rejected Christ,  neither can we deny what Scripture says when it declares it was the people of Israel who rejected their Messiah. 
So with that in mind, let’s look at Peter's words to the Jews from here in the third chapter of Acts.  As we saw last week, Peter and John go to church ond day, and there they encounter a beggar who has been crippled since birth. 
He asks them for money, but winds up getting saved, and goes to the Temple with them, where immediately, he becomes the center of attention. 
When the crowd starts inquiring about what has happened, Peter takes the opportunity to preach, and that's what we read beginning in verse 12. 
Notice how quickly Peter get to Jesus!  It's not unlike the sermon we read earlier from the day of Pentecost.  In fact, that is the theme of all the preaching of the apostles in the book of Acts.  And we ought to make it the central theme of our preaching as well. 
So here, Peter brings a specific accusation against the Jews and he presents it in a unique way.  Right of the bat, we discover his target audience in verse 12. He begins by saying, “Men of Israel.”  We now know these comments are exclusively for the leadership of Israel. 
Then he asks a couple of questions:  “Why do you marvel at this?  Why are you amazed at what happened with this man?  You seem to be under the impression that it was done through our power or ability, when obviously, it was done through the power of God."
That question and comment is designed to engage them at an intellectual level.  Why are you amazed at this when you know God’s power from the Old Testament and you've seen God’s power exhibited through the person of Jesus.  We said it was in His name.  You have seen His power here in your own city again and again, and throughout your land.  Why are you amazed?  Why are you so startled? 
Furthermore, you know that only God can do stuff like this! Miracles aren’t done by people.  So why are you so amazed?  Even though we're just a couple of Galilean fishermen, and you know that people don’t have the power to do what we've just done, you need to accept it for what it is, a miracle of God!
So Peter places them in a dilemma.  Only God can do miracles.  Jesus did miracles.  We do miracles.  Therefore, both Jesus and we are of God.  This is God operating through us, just as He operated through Christ.  Then, Peter immediately places the spotlight on Jesus.  
verse 13
So, the miracle draws the crowd.  The questions form in their mind about what is the source of this power to do miracles.  Peter answers that it can only come from God, and it was demonstrated to bring glory to Jesus. 
Then, in verse 13-26, the theme is Jesus Christ.  And the sermon divides very nicely into two parts.  First is guilt, and then is grace.  First is guilt, and then is grace.  Let's look at the guilt first.
1.  The Guilt
verses 13-15
The word “delivered,” which you see in verse 13, is a term that refers to turning someone over to executioners.  It’s a technical term for being arrested. 
Then he uses the word "denied" here and again in verse 14.  Some translations us the word “disowned”, but that's a bad translation of the word used here.  That sounds like you owned something and gave it away or severed the relationship. 
This is the word “denied.”  You denied His claims.  You denied Him as your Lord.  You denied Him as your Messiah.  And the deliverance is a result of the denial. 
Then, verse 15, you killed the Prince of life.  And it's interesting that he's not talking about the Romans who actually drove the nails and owned the cross.  He's talking to the men of Israel. Who killed Jesus?  No doubt, Pilate was involved.  Herod was involved.  The Romans were involved.  They all played a role. But Peter says it was the Jews who killed Jesus. 
It was the Jews forced the issue with Pilate when Pilate wanted to release Him.  The Jews chose Barabbas over Jesus when they had an opportunity.  The Jews forced Pilate against his will to crucify Jesus, a blatant miscarriage of Justice.  Pilate actually declared Jesus innocent six times in the combination of gospel narratives. 
But the Jews kept pressing the issue until ultimately Jesus was killed. The Scripture says they were insistent with loud voices.  Read the Gospels, and you will find it was a riot mentality that began to form.  And Peter just tells it like it was.  You killed Jesus.  It was the Jewish people who pushed Pilate all the way to the crucifixion of their own Messiah.
And I find it interesting how Peter refers to the Lord.  As if to add to their indictment and pile up the guilt, He uses a series of titles to identify Jesus that rasie the level of the crime that much more. 
For instance, in verse 13, he’s called
- His servant Jesus, the servant of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers. 
I looked back into the history of the word that is translated servant, and servant isn't a bad translation.  It certainly can mean servant, but it isn't the normal word for servant.   
It's the Greek word for son, boy, child and I wonder if more to the point Peter wasn't saying, "You delivered and denied the Son of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers.  You denied the Son of God."
I think that especially needs to be considered because of his reference to the God of our fathers.  Abraham and Isaac and Jacob were sons of God, but Jesus was the Son of God and you killed Him. 
Not only did they kill the Son, they killed the Savior.  Notice that Peter specifically mentions the name Jesus which is a Greek from of Joshua which means "Jehovah saves". 
Literally, it means “salvation is of the Lord,” or, “the Lord is salvation.”  The full meaning is “Jehovah Savior.”  God Savior.  And Jesus is the New Testament form of Joshua. 
And Peter is forcing them to face the reality of killing the Son of God.  I wonder if, as he spoke, their minds backed up a few days to the time they had screamed for His death and determined to have His blood on them and their children?
Then, in verse 14, He mentions that Jesus is
- the Holy One
That has prophetic overtones.  Peter is almost certainly referencing Psalm 16 which calls Messiah the Holy One.  I say that, because he quotes that same psalm in the first sermon as we saw in chapter 2, verse 27. 
Jesus is God's Messiah, the Holy One, the one who is without sin. Luke 1 describes the baby born in Bethlehem as the Holy Child.  Hebrews 7 says, he’s “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.”
And then He adds, "The Just".  The righteous One.
One of the tragic ironies of the crucifixion is they killed the Righteous Just One and asked that an unrighteous one be released. 
By the way, there is an interesting pairing in this phrase, "the Holy One and the Just".  The first word means intrinsically good.  It speaks of nature.  He was, He existed as, it was His nature to be the Holy One. 
The other word, the "Just" means to be innocent when measured against the law.  He did nothing wrong or sinful.  And when put together, they say He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners by nature. 
And He was without violation, without sin in behavior. 
So to these Jews, Peter says, "This wasn't just some good man off the street that you killed.  You put to death  and denied the One who was Son of God, the Savior Who was and Is the only Holy One, the only Righteous One and you did it in exchange for a thief and a murderer named Barabbas.
And finally, verse 15, he calls Jesus
- the Prince of life
That's quite a paradox isn't it?  You put to death the Prince of life.  You killed life.  You destroyed the one who is life itself and wanted a killer released.  You asked for one who took life in exchange for one who gives life. 
And not only is Jesus "life", He is the Prince of Life.  The same word is used in Hebrews 2 where it is translated as "the captain of our salvation".  It's seen in Hebrews 12 as "the author of salvation". 
We think of a prince as royalty, but this word has more to do with being the source or the originator.  Jesus is the author of life.  Nothing was made without Him.  By Him was everything made that was made.  In Him, was life.  You killed the originator of life, the one who said, “I am the resurrection and the life, the only one who can provide life.”
What a horrible, terrible, unbelievable crime was the crime of murdering Jesus, especially in light of these names that are used. 
He is the Son of God, the Savior who is Righteous and Holy.  He is the originator and giver of life, and you killed Him!
verse 15b
You killed Him, and God raised Him, and we have seen Him.  God raised Him.  Why does he bring in the resurrection?  Here is where the story comes full circle. 
Only the power of God that can raise a man from the dead can explain the miracle they've seen in the healing of the lame man. 
That's what he means in
verse 16
You killed Him; God raised Him.  Through our faith in Him, He has raised this lame man.  The one you delivered, the one you denied, the one you disowned, the one you despised, the one you destroyed; He is alive and He is powerful that He gave back to this man a body that he’d never known in his entire life.
So Peter drives home the horrendous guilt, and then tells them: The one you murdered is alive, and He’s putting His power on display, and it is His power poured through us because of our faith in Him, that has given this perfect health to this man.
That’s the indictment and it’s inescapable.  They knew they had done it. And now they stand guilty before God.  
verse 17
Here we move from the guilt to
2.  The Grace
When they are pinned to the wall with no escape, in the darkness of their own deed, Peter opens a window in verse 17.  “You acted in ignorance.  So did your rulers.”  He follows that up in verses 18 and following with a message of grace and forgiveness. 
Aren't you glad God always follows guilt with grace?  We’ll see that next time.
Let's pray.
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