REPENT AND TURN TO GOD
Acts 3:11-26 Key Verse: 19
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
Do you remember the previous passage? Peter said to the crippled beggar, “Sliver of gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Instantly the man’s ankles became strong and began to walk, praising God. It was not Peter who healed this man; it was the Risen Jesus. Sliver of gold cannot solve our life problem. Only Jesus can solve it and change us and give us new life. Today Peter speaks to the crowd who saw the complete healing of the crippled beggar. Through listening to his speech, may God bless us to repent of our sins and turn to God and be refreshed by Jesus today!
Part I: Peter proclaims Jesus (11-16)
Look at verse 11. “While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.” These people were just casual worshipers in Jerusalem coming to the temple according to their traditions. But now in front of their very eyes, the man who had been a crippled beggar for coins was walking, holding the apostles’ hands. It was amazing grace of Jesus. In awe of this, all of them came running to the apostles in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade.
How did Peter turn this into an opportunity to preach Jesus? Look at verse 12. “When Peter saw this, he said to them; ‘Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? It was a moment when time stood still as many onlookers looked at the newly healed man, and Peter and John. Their eyes went from the jumping man, to Peter and John, and back to the jumping man, and back to Peter and John. In his speech, how does Peter identify God and Jesus?
Look at verse 13a. “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.” Peter did not take credit for the man’s healing. He turned people to God and Jesus. Peter’s faith in the name of Jesus is rooted in the God of Israel, the God of history. In the Bible, God is called the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob several times. The first time is in Exodus 3:6 when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush. This God created the heavens and the earth by his almighty power. This God had established the nation Israel by his own mighty hand. He is the foundation of all creation.
Jesus himself also called God, “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Mt22:32). According to Jesus’ explanation, it means God is living and in him God’s servants are living, because he is God who raises the dead. Peter says that God glorified his “servant” Jesus. How? Isaiah describes Jesus as the Lord’s servant, who suffers and dies for the sin of the world and rises again (Isa52:13-15). Isaiah foretold the suffering and exaltation of God’s servant, Jesus. No religious leader understood this. But Peter knew it. Peter proclaims that God has glorified his servant Jesus through the resurrection. Peter was fearless before the crowd who participated in the crucifixion of Jesus.
Then why did Peter expose their evil deed? Look at verses 13b-15. “You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this” Peter exposed their evil deed with a broken shepherd’s heart because they were the perpetrators of the greatest crime in human history. But Peter did not condemn them. He understood them because he was the same kind of sinner. He, too, had disowned Jesus. But the Risen Christ visited him and forgave him. It was the marvelous grace of Jesus to Peter. Peter believed that this grace of forgiveness was available to all of them.
Peter shouted, “You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked a murderer to be released.” “You killed the author of life.” They regularly had attended worship service in the temple. But they were totally against God by disowning Jesus to be their Promised Messiah. Outwardly, it seemed that they were God-worshipers and God-lovers because of their faithful temple worship. But when God practically came to them in the form of a human, and taught them what to do and what not to do in their day to day life, they felt bothered. They did not want to live in the way God wanted them to live. They chose what they wanted over what God wanted. Why did they reject Jesus?
Some people rejected Jesus because they loved to be honored as devout Jews; some people rejected Jesus because of their love of money and power; some people rejected Jesus because they wanted to enjoy their sinful pleasures. Moreover, when Jesus challenged them to deny themselves and love God alone, they hated him and nailed him on the cross. In this way, they became the enemies of God. Peter shouted, “You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked a murderer to be released.” “You killed the author of life.” In fact, it was not only their religious leaders’ sin, but also it was their own sin.
When Jesus died on the cross and was buried in the tomb, they thought that they had finally removed their stumbling block and everything was over. But that is not the case because God raised Jesus from the dead. The Risen Jesus appeared to his disciples for 40 days, enjoyed eating fellowship with them and planted resurrection faith in their hearts by giving them many convincing proofs. More than that, he poured out his Holy Spirit on his disciples and empowered them to do many miracles. Healing the crippled man was just one more clear piece of evidence of Jesus’ power and true identity as the Christ. Surely, they had killed the Holy and Righteous One, who came into the world to save his people.
Their choice was really wrong. Peter proclaimed, “We are witnesses of this.” Today, many people take casual attitude toward believing in Jesus. Their understanding is that believing in Jesus means to have a free ticket to the kingdom of God after death. They do not hesitate to say, “I believe in Jesus.” But at the same time, they do not hesitate to disown Jesus in their daily life only to secure what they want, such as pleasures or success in the world. It is because in the true sense, believing in Jesus does not mean anything to them. Maybe, in their priority, Jesus is listed not in the first, or second, or third, but fourth or fifth or tenth. When they are challenged to choose one of them, Jesus is rejected always.
When I was in UIC as an Intern, I saw one sign at the wall of library. It says, “God is not side dish but main dish.” Many people reject Jesus, the Holy and Righteous One, only to secure their momentary pleasures or their own success in the world. Jesus is the Author of our life. Let us not reject him because of our security. Jesus is our Creator. Let us not reject him because of our family members. Jesus is our Savior. Let us not reject him because of our worldly dreams. Jesus is our Lord. Let us give him our first priority, our wholehearted love and devotion. Faith in Jesus is what we must secure absolutely and at any cost, even at the cost of losing what we hold to be the most precious and important.
How did God prove that Jesus is alive? Look at verse 16. “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” The healing of the crippled man was proof that Jesus is alive. The power of God that raised Jesus from the dead gave an immediate and complete healing to a crippled beggar. The power of God that raised Jesus from the dead can change Matthew, Matt, Isaac, Michael, Sarah, Erik, into true disciples of Jesus. The power of God that raised Jesus from the dead can change North America into a kingdom of priests and a holy nation one person at a time.
Part II: Times of refreshing may come from the Lord (17-26)
Now how did Peter call the crowd and how did he comfort them? Read verse 17. “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.” Now Peter called them “brothers.” And he comforted them the fact that they acted in ignorance. Peter told them that in their ignorance, they committed the greatest crime against God in human history. Of course, he did not mean that they were innocent. He exposed their criminality in a strong term, but now he softened the tone of his voice and offered them the forgiveness of sins.
How did Peter see their mistreatment of Jesus? Look at verse 18. “But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer.” Peter explained clearly that Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection were the main point of the Old Testament and the fulfillment of all the prophecies. In their mistreatment of Jesus, God was fulfilling what he had declared through the prophets. Finally what did Peter challenge them to do? Look at verse 19a. “Repent, then, and turn to God”
It is very interesting to notice that Peter said to them, “Repent, then, and turn to God.” They were the Jews, who had worshiped God and served God throughout their lives. But still Peter challenged them to turn to God because despite their religious life, they had not turned to God yet – they were still self-seeking; their hearts were in the world and their live for themselves. The only difference from the people of the world was that they talked about God and attended the synagogue worship service every Saturday faithfully.
When they had not turned their hearts toward God, those religious lives could not save them at all, or give them any credit before God. Now what they needed was to turn their heats to God and live for God, instead of relying on their own self-righteousness of going to the temple worship service regularly. What God wants people to do is to turn their hearts to Him and live for Him, instead of decorating their lives with religious lifestyles and activities. Many people think that they are serving God because they go to church and follow Christian culture. But without giving their hearts to God, it is just self-serving and self-satisfying life.
The message for them in many cases is the same, “Repent, then, and turn to God.” They must turn to God instead of being content with their religious life. What God wants is not for us to just live a religious life or have a form of religion such as being in a few church activities. But instead, turning to God by dedicating and devoting our real life to God; this is Christianity. God wants us to be real, not just having some religious pretense. God wants you to repent of your sins and turn to God. God wants me to repent of my sins and turn to God. From now on, we, as Christians, must live for God, not for ourselves or something else.
The Greek word for repentance is “metanoeo” which means is a “change of our mind.” Repentance requires a changed life before God and the Truth (2Ti2:25). Repentance brings a transformation of our life. Then our sins can be wiped out, and our burdens of sins and guilt and condemnation can be removed. Verse 19b says, “so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” If we repent of our sins in the name of Jesus, we can enjoy times of refreshing from the Lord. Many people go to many places to refresh themselves. However, usually they fail and become more tired. Repentance is the best way to refresh our mind and soul.
Worldly sorrow brings death, but Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation (2Co7:10). Amen! What blessing we receive when we repent and turn to God? Look at verse 20; “and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you - even Jesus.” When we repent and turn to God, God sends Jesus Christ into our hearts and lives in us forever. Yes! Repentance is hard, but it is the way of life. Through repentance, we find forgiveness. The love of God is poured into our hearts when we accept the blood which his Son Jesus shed for us on the cross. Times of refreshing come when the Promised Holy Spirit fills our hearts and lives in us. The Risen Jesus will come in glory to restore everything.
Read verse 21, “He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he prophesied long ago through his holy prophets.” Now Jesus is waiting for the time of his second coming when he will restore everything and bring all things under submission to God. In this way, Jesus will fulfill God’s redemption work completely. When he comes again, the present world ends, and the new world will begin with new heaven. At that time, God will be among his people– this is our true hope. Until then, his disciples have been sent into the world, working hard to help people repent, and turn to God.
In verses 22-26, Peter testifies that Jesus is the Promised Messiah whom all of God’s Prophets spoke about such as Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah. Therefore, those who accept Jesus and turn to God will see the time of refreshing that comes from the Lord. However, those who reject Jesus and refuse to turn to God will be completely cut off from among his people. Only God’s judgment is waiting for them. God’s plan was to bless all peoples on earth through Jesus, but first the Jews, and then, the rest of the world.
*Conclusion: Today we learned that Israelites were the heirs of the covenant of God. So the message of salvation was given to them first in order to bless them by turning them from their wicked ways. Now it is the time for them to open their hearts, accept Jesus as their Savior and be blessed as God has promised through his holy prophets. Everyone who accepts this gospel of Jesus Christ and turns to God has salvation and will see times of refreshing coming from the Lord. May God help us to repent of our sins and turn to God and be blessed! May God bless our Easter Bible School this weekend through many powerful resurrection witnesses!