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Identifying with Peter Acts 3:12-19

Peter for many people is very much the apostle with whom we can identify. Here he is with John at the Temple gate known as “Beautiful” where a man who has been lame from birth had been carried in. Looking at the two apostles the man expects some coins in charity but Peter said “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you in the name of Jesus of Nazareth: Stand up and walk!” The man was healed and went into the Temple walking and leaping and praising God. Of course the crowds who had known the lame beggar at his accustomed place for so many years were astonished, pressing around the disciples and the leaping man to see who had done this thing.

Now we hear Peter’s thoughts: “They think it was John and I who did this, they don’t understand, I must set them straight. It wasn’t us who made him walk, nor anything we have done or deserved. It was God who did this.” He tells them, “And I mean your God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and Jacob, the God you all know and worship. He glorified his servant Jesus. [and now Peter’s disappointment and anger seeps through, he interrupts his argument - he is so human, which of us has not set off passionately to make a big point only to digress on a hobby horse of the moment?]
“yes, this Jesus, the one you handed over the spotless, blameless innocent one you rejected, and in favour of a known murderer at that - and see what happened: You killed the author of life and we know that because God raised him from the dead and WE have seen him."

Then recollecting what he was trying to say he makes the key point: “And it is by faith in Jesus that this man has been made strong, not us not anything we have done but through Jesus. Somehow regretting is digression, his tirade against the Jews he is trying to persuade, remembering perhaps his own weakness around the fire when he was confronted by the servant girl:

“But friends I know that you did not know what you were doing, nor more your rulers.

Remember your scripture: Peter has already used the term servant when he said God glorified his servant Jesus and now he reminds the Jewish crowd that Isaiah (and others) foretold that the messiah would suffer:

“He was despised and rejected of men
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities
upon him was the punishment that made us whole.”

So Peter says that the sign that they were witnessing today of the man leaping and praising is renewed proof of what he is telling them - that Jesus was the Messiah and is the fulfilment of what the prophets told us would happen, that he suffered for us.

From our Gospel this morning we heard: Jesus himself stood among the disciples (and their companions) and they were startled and terrified. Jesus told them “Thus it is written that the Messiah is to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day” “And”, he continued, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in His name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem.”

Look and love how well Peter did these things as Jesus had asked.

Amen.

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