Daily Devotion – April 13, 2021 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Acts 3:12-19
3:12 When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk?
3:13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him.
3:14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you,
3:15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.
3:16 And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.
3:17 “And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.
3:18 In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer.
3:19 Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out,

This passage begins about three minutes after Peter and John have healed a professional alms-beggar from the Beautiful Gate entrance to the Temple in Jerusalem. Every day people have laid him at this gate and he has begged for money there. Everyone who regularly uses this gate knows him. Now he is running and jumping around, praising God. A startling alteration of daily life and expectations for everyone!

Peter sees it as an opportunity to claim the power of Jesus Christ’s name, deflect honor and worship away from himself and John, tell Jesus’s story and place his listeners in the role of villains responsible for Jesus’s death, and finally call people to believe in the resurrection of the Messiah. The Holy Spirit surely used a beggar, healing power, and Peter’s voice for good. There were plenty of consequences for this perfect storm of evangelism. Luke says about 5000 came to faith because of this event. But also Peter and John caught the attention of the same leaders who had tried and convicted Jesus, and so they were arrested and then tried the very next day.

When the Holy Spirit gets a good idea, it seizes the moment and many things start moving!

After a short trial, Peter and John were released (the Jewish leaders were afraid of the many people converted by the healing) and the disciples met with the new converts and a sort of communal revolution happened. People put all their belongings to common use, they looked out for one another, and they worshiped together. The Christian movement was born from a healing, an arrest, and the Spirit unleashed on the hearts of hundreds and hundreds of people. Can you think of anything in our day that has looked like this, been acted out in this way? For surely the Holy Spirit is still at work in the world!

Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for the Holy Spirit’s power to heal, to turn our attention, and to buoy us up the way it buoyed up Peter and John. Keep stirring us, dear Lord, that your will might be done.  Amen.