If yesterday was fill ‘er up, today is most definately “Hit me again.” Reading on in Acts, this girl just loves the “rest of the story.” (Well, there is even more “rest of the story”, but this is the next “rest of the story.”) Anyway, I love THIS story, in part, because I love all the stories that involve Peter. Ask just about any HiSKiD at church and they can tell you that Ms Dawn’s favorite Bible character is Peter. My favorite book of the Bible is Acts, and Genesis, and Judges, and Chronicles, Ruth. . . . .well, the favorite book is a bit harder, but my favorite character is by far MR Peter! And one of the reasons is because of things that happened like the things that happened in Acts chapter 3.
While everyone is looking on in amazement, ooohing and ahhhing, Peter blurts out,
“Hey, really???? Why in the world are you so suprised? I mean, do you think we did this ourselves? God did this. Yup, God. Same God who sent Jesus and glorified Him. Yeah, that God, that Jesus. The one you handed over to be killed. The one you disowned. The one you decided should die instead of a murderer who you asked to be released. You know, you killed the author of life. Well, you tried. God raised him from the dead. We know cuz we’re were there. We saw it all. And this man, he’s definately not lame–figuratively or literally. He’s completely healed, but not because of anything we did, but because of the absolute awesomeness of the very name of Jesus, and his faith in Him.”
At this point, I imagine jaws dropping. (a sight I have recently witnessed on numerous occassions as certain surprising disclosures have come to light in our lives) After the jaws drop, and the fog in their brains begins to clear, and the truth and weight of what Peter is saying begins to sink in, I think their heads probably dropped, eyes unable to make contact. At which point Peter lays the smack down.
WAIT!!! NO HE DOESN’T. . . . Well, he does. But what’s so awesome is how he does it–it’s gently, with grace, and without condemnation that he continues
Now, brothers, I know you were clueless. You had no idea what you were doing. You acted in ignorance, and so did your leaders. But it had to be that way, God had to fulfill the prophecies. But look, now you know. I’m telling you, God is showing you and because God loves you so much we are here warning you that once you know what you’ve done, you need to repent, turn to God and let your sins be wiped out and times of refreshing start coming in. Plus you gotta understand that He doesn’t want anyone to perish. But, and this is a big but, anyone who does not listen will be completely cut off.
Peter went on to explain how prophets from days gone by have been telling this basic message for years. We know that God still has people telling this message. He understands that we can be ignorant of the truth, so He is sending people right and left to help us see and understand what our sin has done and that He has the answer to this problem and that answer is Jesus. He loves us enough to warn us of the consequences of what will happen if we choose to reject Him or fail to believe what He is saying.
I love Peter’s “good news-bad news” approach. The good news is God healed this man. The bad news is you killed God. The good news is all you have to do is repent, believe, follow and you can be saved. The bad news is if you don’t you will be completely cut off.”
But I mostly love Peter’s compassion. “Now, brothers, I know you acted in ingnorance, and so did your leaders.” I love how Peter didn’t condemn them, he didn’t judge them, the didn’t belittle them, or shut them out. Peter just loved them enough to tell them the truth. “Hey I know you didn’t understand what you were doing, but you need to know, because this knowledge will save your soul.”
So Jesus, “Hit me again.” Today I desire to be filled with that kind of compassion, that Peter kind of, Jesus kind of love that says, “Hey, I just love you enough to let you know what’s at risk here.” Maybe that prayer is being answered today when someone reads this, maybe it will be answered through some place I teach, or by some chance happening. But I pray that God continues to fill His people up with the boldness to speak His words as we ought with compassion, love and truth, so that those around us might know the truth and be set free.