Friday, March 15, 2013
PETER, THE POWERFUL
This morning, with out even one cup of coffee in me, I began reading Acts 3 to prepare for next weeks Tuesday Bible study. I made it through verse 14 before my mind went wild remembering Peter from our evening study of Matthew last year. We took the whole year to study it chapter by chapter and we got very personally acquainted with Peter and the other Apostles. This was NOT the Peter that we got to know and love in those chapters. THAT Peter was a blunderer, tripping over his own mouth time after time. He was a proud fisherman who loved Jesus but, like all the Apostles, just didn’t get it.
They walked and talked with Jesus for three years and at the end they still didn’t get it. They still didn’t understand who Jesus wanted them to be, let alone who Jesus came here to be: A Savior not a conqueror. They wanted Him to be powerful in a warrior sense, while what He wanted for them was that they be powerful in His place. “I must go so that the Holy Spirit can come.” And what would the Holy Spirit do for them? He would give them the power to “get it” and to “do it.” They would become the power to spread the Good News and change the world forever because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit who was in Him to them.
And, yes, the sermon and the results of the sermon at Pentecost was major in getting things rolling. It was a magnificent, awe inspiring example of the power of the Holy Spirit. But for me it is verses 12-14 of chapter 3 that blew my mind. This was NOT Peter! At least not the Peter I came to know and love in Matthew. This was a totally sanctified, Holy Spirit filled Peter. He had been changed. He was a startling new creature. Consider these verses with me:
Verse 12 reads: But when Peter saw this, He replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we have made him walk.
Peter and John had just healed a man who had been crippled from birth and was well known in the temple. Word traveled fast and people gathered quickly to gawk at them, wondering at their ability to heal this man. Peter, the proud, gave up his pride for himself and gave it to Jesus, asking the crowd why they were so amazed about what happened. He told them to stop looking at Him and John and to start looking at Christ, the true power that healed this man.
Verses 13-14: The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered up and disowned in the presence of Pilate when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One…
And then I want to ask Peter, “WHO disowned Him? Who denied ever knowing Him? Who scattered like chaff in the wind when Jesus was arrested? Who left him alone to suffer these consequences?" “Peter, weren’t you guilty of disowning Him?”
But do you know what Peter could have answered? “Those sins are gone, I have been forgiven and I do not have to pay for them because Jesus did. Because I did that, I have been given compassion for others who have denied Him, and I long to help them find Him and be forgiven, too.”
Isn’t that a picture of our own lives: We confess our sins and turn away from them and they are gone! God has chosen to forget them and no one can accuse us of them anymore. And because we are forgiven we can also have compassion for others and long for them to find the Christ we know so well and have their sins covered in His blood.
Peter was longing for the whole world to finally see the truth that was so plain to Him at last. He “got it” now. And He was empowered to share it with the whole world. He tripped up a couple times over rules of law, but God worked to change him even in that. God will change us as well. He will empower us to do the work He wants us to do and He will go out of His way to show us what that is. Do we “get it” now?
Do we trust our Lord to empower us? Do we even care if He does or not? Do we even question whether we need to be empowered? Or do we look to Him every day for the power to change someone’s life, knowing that we cannot do it in our own power?
May we seek His power every day: to enable us to do a good job at work, to enable us to touch someone who needs touching and to help us keep in touch with Him. May we go forth from our homes (or in our homes), enabled by Christ and willing to do His bidding, whatever that may be!