Acts • Sermon • Submitted • Presented
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Last week we looked at the healing of a lame man by Peter and John outside the temple in Jerusalem. We talked about the fact that this was a man who had been that way since birth. He had never taken a step in his entire life but once Peter took his hand and raised him to his feet he entered the temple walking and jumping and leaping for joy. And as you might expect that drew a crowd. Verse 11 of chapter 3 tells us:
While he was holding on to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astonished, ran toward them in what is called Solomon’s Colonnade.
Now before we get into the heart of the message here I want to take just a minute to talk about Solomon’s Colonnade. Depending on which version of the bible you’re reading you might see Solomon’s Colonnade, or Solomon’s Portico, or Solomon’s Porch. This was an area on the eastern side of the temple inside the Court of the Gentiles. This was an important area for the Jewish people because it was one of the last remnants of the original temple built by Solomon, hence the name. Now there were several of these colonnades within the temple walls. They were covered by a roof, supported by columns and were popular areas for people to gather for teaching. (Show picture). We see Solomon’s Colonnade mentioned in the New Testament 3 times. Twice here in Acts in 3:11 and again in 5:12 and then in John 10:23. Now I want to talk about that mention in John a little later on but first let’s turn to our passage here in Acts 3 for this morning.
11 While he was holding on to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astonished, ran toward them in what is called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he addressed the people: “Fellow Israelites, why are you amazed at this? Why do you stare at us, as though we had made him walk by our own power or godliness? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied before Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14 You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer released to you. 15 You killed the source of life, whom God raised from the dead; we are witnesses of this. 16 By faith in his name, his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Jesus has given him this perfect health in front of all of you.
So the crowd sees the lame man running around, jumping, praising God, and they naturally want to see what’s up. So everybody gathers together in one of these teaching areas and they’re asking what happened, who did this, how did this happen etc. And Peter asks them, “Why are you so surprised at this?” And at first glance my logical, rational brain thinks, “Well, why wouldn’t they be surprised? They see a man walking around that they all know can’t walk. I’d be surprised too.” But then, my faith, my belief kicks in and I realize, this shouldn’t be a surprise to these people, because how many times over the last 3 years have they seen Jesus do something just like this? There are 31 individual healing miracles of Jesus recorded in the gospels and some of them were mass healings like when he healed the ten lepers. So it’s not like this was the first time someone had ever been healed. In fact in Matthew 21:14 we see Jesus healing people in this very spot.
14 The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.
So Peter says, “What are you so surprised about?” But then he goes on and asks, “Why do you stare at us, as though we had made him walk by our own power or godliness?” He’s saying, it wasn’t us. We didn’t do this. And here he goes back to the same refrain that we saw a couple of weeks ago when we looked at Peter’s sermon at Pentecost. He talks about how the Jewish people are guilty for the death of Jesus. He says, “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied before Pilate, though he had decided to release him.” And I won’t read through the whole thing again, but Peter goes on, pointing out the guilt of the Jewish people in sending Jesus to his crucifixion. But then we read verse 16 which is really the key to this whole sermon,
16 By faith in his name, his name has made this man strong, whom you see and know. So the faith that comes through Jesus has given him this perfect health in front of all of you.
That’s the power that Jesus name has. By faith in the name of Jesus this lame man, who had never taken a step in his entire life, was walking. But that’s not the biggest miracle. Like we talked about last week, the physical healing is great, but the bigger miracle is that by faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed spiritually. He has gained admittance to the spiritual life of his community, but even more importantly, he has gained a right relationship with God, his sins are forgiven, and he will spend eternity in the presence of the Savior. That’s the perfect health that Peter is talking about. It’s both physical and spiritual because we are not just physical beings, but spiritual as well.
But then Peter continues, and he offers this salvation, this healing to those listening to him. Let’s continue reading in verse 17
17 “And now, brothers and sisters, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your leaders also did. 18 In this way God fulfilled what he had predicted through all the prophets—that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, 20 that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus, who has been appointed for you as the Messiah. 21 Heaven must receive him until the time of the restoration of all things, which God spoke about through his holy prophets from the beginning. 22 Moses said: The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers and sisters. You must listen to everything he tells you. 23 And everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be completely cut off from the people.
So in the first part of the sermon Peter points out their role, their guilt in the crucifixion of Jesus, but then here he tells them, “But you know what, it had to happen this way. Jesus had to suffer, he had to die so that we could all be saved.” And then he calls them to repent and to turn back.
Peter again in this sermon lays out from the Old Testament scriptures the proofs that Jesus is the Messiah that they’ve all been waiting for. He shows them from the words of Moses that Jesus is the Messiah. But you know there was another time, here in this same location when the question of Jesus being the Messiah was raised. I said earlier that we would talk about one of those other mentions of Solomon’s Colonnade so let’s look at that now.
23 Jesus was walking in the temple in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” 25 “I did tell you and you don’t believe,” Jesus answered them. “The works that I do in my Father’s name testify about me. 26 But you don’t believe because you are not of my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
You know I see stuff all the time where people say, “Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah.” or “Jesus never claimed to be God.” There are numerous places in the gospels where Jesus flat out tells people, but I like this one in particular. For one because it ties in to the whole Solomon’s Colonnade thing, but also because here, in just a few verses, we have Jesus saying both.
The people say “If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” “I did tell you and you don’t believe.” I told you, but it didn’t do any good because you lack faith. To our limited human brains it seems like a paradox. Jesus says, “You don’t believe because you are not of my sheep.” But we’ve been taught through the church that to become one of his sheep, to become a Christian, we have to believe in him. So which is it? Well, honestly, it’s kind of both. To believe in Christ we have to have faith, we have to place our faith in Him. But that faith doesn’t come from us. It comes from God.
8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—
So to be a Christian we have to place our faith in Christ, but even our faith isn’t from us, it’s ultimately from God.
But let’s turn back now to the last few verses of our passage for this morning. Peter concludes his message by saying
24 “In addition, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, have also foretold these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, And all the families of the earth will be blessed through your offspring. 26 God raised up his servant and sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”
Here, once again, Peter extends the message of the gospel beyond the nation of Israel to us. As he says quoting the promise God made to Abraham, “And all the families of the earth will be blessed through your offspring.” He says that Jesus was sent first to the Jews. But if he was sent somewhere“first” then that means there must at least be a second. And that second sending was to the rest of the world. It was to us, so that we can have that same salvation that was first offered to the Jews.
So we’ve seen this miracle, this healing of a crippled man by Peter and John. The man starts walking and leaping about, praising God, and hanging on to Peter and John. And this obviously draws a crowd and it’s that crowd that Peter speaks to in the verses that we’ve looked at so far this morning. But what’s next? Peter has pointed out the sin of the people and he’s laid out the proofs that Jesus is the Messiah, and then he’s called on the people to repent of their sin and turn away from it. So what happens now. Well we’ll have to look on into the beginning verses of the next chapter to find that answer.
1 While they were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted them, 2 because they were annoyed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 So they seized them and took them into custody until the next day since it was already evening. 4 But many of those who heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
What happens? Well the religious leaders get mad, as usual. They hadn’t liked it when Jesus was going around claiming to be the Messiah so they worked up this plot to get rid of him, to have him killed. So now they have Jesus’s followers performing miracles in Jesus name right there in the temple itself. And they’re teaching people that Jesus really is the Messiah and they’re showing the proof of it from the very scriptures that these religious leaders all have memorized. So what do they do? They decide to have the apostles arrested, because, you know, that whole plot to kill Jesus thing worked out so well the first time. So since it’s already toward evening they have Peter and John arrested and thrown into jail until they can take care of them the next day.
But then look at what verse 4 says. “But many of those who heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.” The religious leaders tried to shut Peter and John up. They had them arrested and thrown in jail, but the sermon had already been preached. The gospel had already been shared and the size of the church grew once again. In Peter’s first sermon on Pentecost we saw the church grow to 3000. Here we see it grow again to 5000. And as we continue on in the book of Acts, we’ll see it continue to grow, and then to spread out from its origins in Jerusalem.
The sharing of the gospel will never come back void. It doesn’t matter how much the religious, or political leaders try to interfere. It doesn’t matter how many obstacles Satan throws up in our paths. When we share the gospel we are sharing life. And that life will take root and grow. We may not ever see the fruit of it. But it will grow nonetheless. We may be the one to plant the seed, the one to water the seed that was planted by someone else, or the one to take out the weeds that grow up trying to choke out the seed. Sometimes we get to be the ones that witness the harvest. But every job is important. There can be no harvest if the seed isn’t planted, and watered, and tended. We’ve been given this great gift that came down to us from this first church all those centuries ago. We hold the same gospel that Peter preached that evening on Solomon’s Colonnade that saw the church grow to 5000 believers. Jesus, the son of God, came to earth and lived, and died to pay the penalty for our sins. But then he rose from the dead, conquering death once and for all, so that we could gain forgiveness from our sins and live eternally with God. What will you do with that gospel? Will you hold on to it? Will you clutch it to yourself? Or will you share it? Will you plant it and water it and tend it in the lives of those around you?
Would you pray with me?