Peter’s first witness – Introduction
This third session on Acts is based on chapter 3 with Peter performing a healing and then goes on to witness the fact of Jesus’ death and why he was crucified. This would have happened a few days or weeks after Pentecost when God’s Holy Spirit was given to the disciples they spoke in tongues then Peter preached and 3,000 people were converted.
Again I’m going to paraphrase the readings (in italics) but please do read chapter 3 yourselves, it only takes a few minutes, then consider how each of us can recognise those times. When we do, we can be inspired to use those opportunity to witness our faith. We all have been given different gifts of the spirit and these should fire us on to put the ways of Our Heavenly Father first and live for Christ alone
Talk Session 3 Acts 3 Peter’s first witness
Peter and John along with all the disciples had received God’s Holy Spirit there were already 3,000 followers however it was important to attend worship in the Temple. They were Jews and they followed the tradition to pray at set times in the temple, they ignored the danger in being arrested for being followers of Jesus, but now going about their daily business and not causing disturbances things were about to change
Acts Chapter 3 Peter Heals a Lame Beggar
At three in the afternoon at the time of prayer Peter and John were going up to the temple, a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate to enable him to beg, on seeing Peter and John he asked them for money.
It was a common practice then for those who are disabled to beg for money. Being crippled since birth his limbs would be badly shrunken and deformed it is quite probable that he could have been sitting outside the temple gate when Jesus was going in and out, he might have seen Peter and John with him and heard about miracles, of healing, of bodies being made whole again. He was there doing his work, begging enabling him to feed and clothe himself for then there was no social security everyone had to work.
His task was to ask people for money in a place where people might feel generous, most would pass by and it was likely that Peter and John would have done too, but that day they did not, something stopped them, some inner compulsion to do something for that man. Most likely there would have been others begging but they stopped at this particular person, Peter didn’t have any money on him yet he knew he could witness God’s love to him, but how?
4 Peter said to the beggar, “Look at us!” The beggar looked at them expecting to get something. Peter then said, “Silver or gold I don’t have, but I give you what I do have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Peter taking his hand helped him up for his feet and ankles instantly had became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk, he went with them into the temple courts, walking, jumping, and praising God. When the people saw the man they knew as a beggar walking and praising God, they were filled with wonder and amazement at what happened to him.
At certain times we can feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we may not always recognised it as such at the time but hindsight can remind us. An opportunity arises and our Spirit led instinct takes over. A beggar sees Peter and John walking pass, two men going into a temple. People going into a place of worship are most likely good people, caring people generous people, people who will help others who are less fortunate, so he calls out not in hope or expectation but in a self-scripted appeal.
Peter stops and straight away makes it personal, by saying, “look at me!” He doesn’t just drop a small coin at the man’s feet, he’s prompted to do more, yet why this man? There were many beggars at each of the temple gates, he had been lame all his life, his work was to rely on the generosity of people. Peter’s heart was moved, something about the man or situation spoke to him. He had been asked for money but Peter knew money was not what this man needed, it was the ability to walk, to go out and live as a full member of society.
How much courage did it take to do his first miracle? Or was it simply prompted by the moment when he did it by an inner faith, knowing it was the right thing to do. With his relationship with Jesus and being filled by the Holy Spirit, having preached in the city streets, seen 3,000 people acknowledge Jesus as Lord, Peter would have been full of God’s Spirit confident to do anything by his faith, it is after all what Jesus said he would do.
We can enjoy the man’s reaction for he was ecstatic, and who wouldn’t be, full of joy he was dancing and praising God; Fulfilling Isaiah prophecy in 35:6. Then will the lame, leap like a deer. It’s no wonder that people would then pay attention to what Peter would say and believers can still find that joy in our churches today in knowing Jesus. We can express our joy at being chosen by God to become his followers, however we can be too concerned with what others think about us rather than God. On this occasion we know that people in the temple who knew the beggar were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Peter Speaks to the Onlookers, 11 The people were astonished and came running to them and Peter spoke to them: “Fellow Israelites, why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? God has glorified Jesus who you handed him over to be killed, You disowned the Holy and Righteous One. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. It is by Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed this man, as you can all witness to.
First Peter had to have the faith to perform this healing, now he has the opportunity to witness what has happened Peter takes no credit in being part of it, but tells it was done by the name of Jesus. He tells the key facts, Jesus was the man they were responsible for killing, He was glorified by God and was raised from the dead and the proof was standing there before them a lame beggar now fully headed done in the name of Jesus
For any spiritual work including healing to take place certain things have to be in place, recognise that there is a need for healing, then the person has to have the faith to use Jesus’ name for the healing. Jesus power to be channelled into the healing and then the healing to be accepted
Peter continues:- “Fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But God knew his Messiah would suffer as told through the prophets. Now repent, turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, and that he may send the Messiah to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.
First the stick then the feather, Peter understands why they put Jesus to death as Jesus said on the cross, the people didn’t know what they were doing, he didn’t judge them as being unforgiveable, he told them God knew it would happen that Jesus was going to suffer and then gave them the opportunity to put everything right by God. If they were to realise the truth, the wrong they had done and repent then they would be made acceptable to God.
This shows just how great God’s love for us is. He is willing to forgive those who played a part in the murder of his son but only if they recognise the evil deed they did and truly repent. Already 3,000 had heard and accepted Jesus as their saviour and following this incident we will find another 2,000 commit to Jesus and today it’s millions
When we accept Jesus as Lord and turn away from sin then we too are made acceptable to God our sins are wiped out. It is that choice we need to pass on to others for one day The Messiah will return as promised by God’s prophets and Jesus. Always remember Jesus is The Messiah, and we can trust what he says
Peter does not leave it there but carries on:- 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. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people. All the prophets have foretold these days. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 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 confirms God’s involvement with the Jews, fist by quoting Moses that The Messiah would be a Jew and is to be listened to and then by telling them what God told Abraham that the world would be blessed by his offspring this was Jesus. Jesus first went to the Jews but the plan was to reach all people, Jews & gentiles alike
Throughout the history of the Jews, Gentiles had the opportunity to recognise God working through them but the people and the Jews wanted to keep to their own gods. It seems that not only did the Jews want to keep their God special and did not want to convert people to know the one living God but the gentiles who they came into contact with did not want to accept that the Jews god was a God of real power and influence