In Acts 3, Peter takes advantage of the crowd that gathers to preach a sermon. This will become a pattern in the book of Acts: a miracle opens the door to a message. The healing of the lame man draws a huge crowd, a crowd ready to hear the gospel. Peter preaches the gospel, shifting the attention away from the disciples, away from the man who was healed, and places all the attention on Jesus Christ. After he tells the gospel story, Peter focuses on his listeners, confronting them with their sin, and calling upon them to repent and turn back to Jesus.
The first thing we should notice is the way that the miracle serves the message. Peter uses the occasion created by the healing in order win a hearing for the gospel. The miracle is not the message! The miracle exemplifies the gospel, it authenticates the gospel, and it makes the gospel attractive, but the message of Jesus is the main point.
When the crowd had gathered, full of amazement and wonder, the disciples are faced this problem: what do you do when glory is offered to you? How do you respond when people hand you praise? There are three options: the first is to accept it. We’ll call this option “pride”. The second option is to reject it. This is the way of false humility. The correct response, which is the one that Peter models, is not to accept glory, nor to reject it, but to deflect it. Peter points the spotlight directly at Jesus.
This should be our model, as well: we are living in a world where glory is offered all the time, where praise is constantly flowing. This is the decision we face every time we receive a compliment: how do we respond? We usually fall into the second ditch – we try to dodge the compliment, and modestly pretend that nothing special is happening in our lives.
But as Christians, our lives are filled with Spirit-wrought miracles, and these things catch the world’s attention. So Christian, by the power of the Spirit, use the everyday miracles of your life to spread the message of Jesus Christ! That’s the main point for us to hear: God uses the work of the Spirit to create opportunities for the gospel. That’s what happened to the Apostles in the book of Acts, and that’s what God is doing with our lives today.
But there’s another challenge: when Peter re-directs the honor away from himself, he does so by pointing out that the Jews weren’t simply making an honest mistake by giving glory to the wrong person. They were continuing to avoid giving credit to Jesus. Peter’s message doesn’t begin with information, but with biting rebuke. Look at verses 13-15: Peter gives three contrasts that highlight the awful wickedness of the Jews. First, when God says “worship Jesus”, the Jews say “Crucify Jesus!”. Second, the Jews choose wickedness instead of righteousness. Third, the Jews choose death instead of life.
But see also the kindness of God – Peter is offering them another chance! They killed Jesus, but God raised Him from the dead, and He comes back into their midst and begins healing and serving again through His Apostles. And so Peter’s cry becomes “Repent! Turn back from your sins! Stop giving glory to wickedness and death, and worship the Holy One who gives life! The miracle you just witnessed is proof that God still wants to heal this broken world. The message of this miracle, the healing of a lame man, and his full participation among God’s people, is that God wants to deliver you and heal you, and have fellowship with you, restoring all things to Himself.