The ACTS Files – Why do you wonder at this O’ Israel? – Acts 3:11-16 – 04/25/2016
Acts 3:11 (ESV) While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article looks at an account where Peter and John went to pray and God used them in a mighty way. My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in chapter three verse eleven…
V11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?
The man clung onto Peter and John, he knew that these guys had something special and I believe that what Peter said was maybe for the man who was invading their personal space as much as it was for those who were gobsmacked that God had worked in such a real and tangible way. This is a danger that we as Christians can be like these people, who know all about God but are genuinely surprised when God shows up in a real way. Makes us question how strong our faith actually is huh?
They surrounded Peter and John and Peter suddenly realizing he has an audience addresses the people! He took advantage of a willing crowd to seek explanation of what was clearly supernatural. He makes sure that they are aware that this was Jesus and not him. He shows humility in a manner that we could all learn from. This could have been Peter’s ticket to the top table of religious scholars but he made sure he attributed the glory to Jesus and Peter was doing what we see in the book of Romans…
Romans 10:14 (ESV) How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Peter knew that although they saw a miracle then that would not be enough to save them, they had to hear the word of God and understand and believe. That was the purpose of Peter preaching and that is important today, because many churches seek signs and wonders and do not focus on the other majors such as prayer and decent doctrine. Peter never wanted to give the impression that it was him or his spirituality that healed this man, he was simply the vessel used by God.
Peter asks “why do you wonder at this?” for three years Jesus went around healing people and Peter was leading the charge in claiming that he rose again and he was alive with his father in heaven so why would it be weird that he would still be distributing healing power in his name from heaven? Peter was consistent in his doctrine from the moment he picked up the man and all the way through the sermon in the portico; it was all in the name of Jesus.
V13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.
In case you wondered what God, Peter gives the genealogy of this one. The Jewish people did not even write the name of God down out of reverence for the name of God. It would be easy to say you know God but not know which God they served. Here is an example… I am a big guy who is Caucasian in skin pigmentation with dark hair and brown eyes, if someone claimed to know me and stated that I was 150lbs, blue eyes and ginger hair then you would state that “you may know William but it is not the one I know” and Peter to avoid discussions like these makes it absolutely clear that he is talking about God. He was the God of their fathers and the one who had an everlasting covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
He also declared that Jesus was sent from God and was on a mission from God, he switches the sermon back to the point of what he wanted to say, this was all about Jesus and not in any way about Peter. When your mission becomes as much about you as Jesus then you know you have lost focus, here Peter stays on point.
And Peter reminds them of what they have done in John 18 & 19; Pilate was looking for any loophole to release Jesus as he could not find anything that he could sentence him to death for in the Roman laws. He found him guilty of no crime but because of the difficult local political situation and the desire to avoid a riot, he listens to the Jewish people and their denial of Jesus, Peter shows the Jews (who were just as much to blame as the Romans) culpability in the death of Jesus, this is a bold move and showed that Peter was indeed a changed man that the one who cowered on the night Jesus was arrested.
V14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.
Peter goes into great detail in case they had forgotten what happened (unlikely as were are talking less than a few months after it happened) He calls Jesus by who he was “Holy and Righteous” and I spoke earlier about the culpability of both the Romans and Jews in the crucifixion of Christ but the fact remains that one side could not have done it without the other. Two peoples who were normally at odds rounded up on the Holy one!
And to compound their shame he reminded them that they asked for a murderer, a local terrorist of the Roman occupation, a savage to be released instead of God’s own son! That is how far they had fallen! Peter reminds them (or perhaps tells the ones who could claim they were never told) that Jesus, the “author of life” rose from the dead and despite the best efforts of the people; death could not hold him as God raised him from the dead.
The interesting thing about peters declaration here is partly the boldness but also the public refute of the lie that had been told by the Jewish scholars that the stone had been rolled away by his followers and his body was stolen to perpetuate a lie that he had risen from the dead! (Matthew 28:11-15) He and the apostles were witnesses to this and history tells us that many went to their death for being that witness! What tremendous example of the truth of the account as who would honestly go to death for a lie?
V16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
Peter reminds them, now he has established the following facts…
- Who God was and made sure they understood it was God
- Who Jesus was and made sure they knew which Jesus he referred to
The second one is important because there are many versions of Jesus out there even today, we have cults who try to decry and deny the very deity of Jesus and claim he was less than God, or just a good man, or some other lie to perpetuate their cultish false doctrine.
Peter advises that is was in the name of THAT JESUS, that Peter had faith and when he said to the man to stand up, that man had faith that Jesus would heal him of the illness that had plagued him for four decades and now he stood next to them as a living witness that he was genuinely healed and Jesus made him whole! The co-creator of heaven and earth had enough power to heal him through faith, what an awesome testimony!
Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter three verses seventeen through twenty six when we look at part two of Peter speaking in Solomon’s portico. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.
God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.